Friday, December 4, 2015
'Tis the season, where eggnog flavor replaces pumpkin in virtually every product lining the grocery aisles (Oreos, really? Stop messing with perfection! Sweet-nothing-but-preservatives-and-unnatural, 'natural'-flavor-perfection). And so, for those who are writers or for those who love them (bless your poor misguided affection) I've compiled a gift list for the Writer in your life.
1.) Time. Okay, so unless you're Doc Brown this one is tricky. But if you can give the writer in your life some quiet time by watching the kids, or buying them a gift card for a coffee shop (or a writer's retreat if you just have mad cash to blow) it will help them invest in their writing. Time is a premium, one-size-fits-all, writer's gift.
2.) Encouragement. Writing is a labor of love. We don't do it for money (unless we're James Patterson and we have a million dollar mortgage to keep up with). So, knowing that what we're doing means something and might be, even in some small way inspiring, is a beautiful gift. We're famous for being self-critical, and even the smallest 'nicely done' can mean the world.
3.) Helpful Critique. I've had lots of criticism; some of it even about my writing. But bashing a writer because you don't care for their genre, or because their character uses a voice that differs from what you expect, or because you found one typo in 300 pages, isn't necessarily helpful. Give feedback that will help us to improve. If we've confused you, let us know why. If there's plot inconsistencies let us know, courteously. All writers want to be better writers. Help us grow without asking that we turn a sci-fi comedy into historical fiction.
4.) Give the Gift of a Review. If the writer in your life has written and published something that you liked, write a review saying so. Write how it made you feel, write what you loved about the setting, or the characters, or the power of their poetry. Even if you didn't like all of it, give a positive and honest blurb about what you did like. The world of self-published authors is growing steadily and having good reviews can help other readers find their work and help your writer to keep doing what they love.
I hope you all find time, encouragement, helpful feedback, and pleasant reviews (and a lot of your favorite pens) in your stockings this year.
What are some of the best things you've gotten as a writer?
(One of my best would be the sage advice from other members of the Northern Colorado Writers Group. Absolutely invaluable.)