By: Beverly Peders
The holiday season is upon us and it brings snow, hot cider, and gift giving. However, for the screenwriter or freelance writer in your life, it may be hard to find something to get them other than books or pun-covered merchandise. Here are some ideas that come straight from a screenwriter’s own wish list:
Was your friend inspired by the old typewriters? Perhaps they admire certain nineteenth century writers and would love the tactile experience of an old-fashioned typewriter. In any case, there are several different “types” to choose from! While it can be pricey, the cheapest I found from Staples is $102 and the prices can range all the way to custom-made Etsy masterpieces that are $1,500+. If this screenwriter or yourself are more knowledgeable with computers, typewriter keycaps are cheaper, ranging around $25-$35 and produce the same effect with a little more effort. Even if typewriters aren’t their thing, there are many different types of keyboard that could make writing more fun or at least less tedious. Like the bamboo keyboard or ergonomic ones. Cheaper still, find some keyboard stickers they might like or a keyboard skin.
When it comes to power, the last thing any screenwriter wants to happen is for their computer to shut down. Sometimes it’s impossible to find an outlet or travelling makes sitting in one spot to charge long enough impossible. Portable batteries, while they mostly only have enough for USB devices like tablets and smartphones, can still be a lifesaver if they write on their phone or type on their tablet. While these are also a bit pricey, usually around $100 for a good reliable one, it will be priceless to a writer.
Something every writer should have is an external hard drive to backup all their hard work on. Good hard drives (from 500 GB to 3 TB) range from $45 to $90. The more space, the longer it lasts for the writer. If they don’t have an emergency battery or have a special project they have spent a lot of time and work on, they may want to keep it safe and secure. A great functional gift that beats a gift card.
Headaches and sore eyes are common amongst writers who type and research and do everything by the blue light of a computer screen. However, there is a way (kinda stylish too) to minimize these effects. Computer glasses. They range from $6-$100 depending on the quality and whether they’re prescription or not. There are also tinted or clear glasses, but the clear ones are usually more expensive. Here is a guide on how to find the right glasses for your screenwriting friend and maybe a pair for yourself too!
A must have for any writer, no matter how many coffee shops they frequent, is a trusty travel mug. I myself have one from Thermos that’s not only around $20 and comes in many different colors, but I can go to work at 9am and my tea is still hot at 2pm. It’s a bit difficult to clean the inside of the lid, but the mug works incredibly well. There are tons of other types of travel mugs that are praised for their temperature control. Contigo, RTIC, and more. If you want to go really crazy, there are self-stirring mugs out there for $30+. Find the best price, color, style, and size for the writer in your life.
If your writer is someone who prefers writing from home, to keep their writing fuel warm, coffee mug warmers are always a great gift idea. There are coffee warmers that plug into outlets or that are USB powered instead to free up those important outlets. The simple ones aren’t that expensive, but if you’re a big spender there are some you can control the temperature it’s warmed to for a nice $30. Be mindful of how much desk space your screenwriter has.
Does your writer get snacky? If they’re usually too busy to run back and forth from local stores to stock up or throw something together, there are a variety of subscription boxes with different types of food. Health snacks, baked goods kits, assorted meats, candy, and more can be purchased for you writer from $5-$60 a month. A month of goodies for a year could be the best present yet.
Pen and Paper
Although screenwriters mostly write on computers and laptops, nothing beats a good old-fashioned notebook. Some of the top-quality notebooks like Leuchtturm1917, Rhodia, and Whitelines are steps above the usual bookstore notebook. They might even be the perfect luxurious note-taking pad that can entice any screenwriter to get back to jotting everything down. There are even more different types of fancy notebooks from waterproof journals to personalized notebooks you can find on Etsy or Shutterfly. Prices vary from $7-$50 depending on the quality, function, and size of the notebook.
Despite my love for calligraphy, I never got a fountain pen because I thought they were difficult to maintain. Now that I have two, I can say for sure that they do require some maintenance, but they are worth it. From having the smooth glide of the nib across the paper to selecting what ink to use from pinks to greens to greys, it makes writing with pen and paper more pleasing. A good sight to find everything from inks to pens to videos on upkeep of pens is the Goulet Pen Company website. If your screenwriter is already hooked on fountain pens, there are carrying cases and special paper to add to their collection. The hardest part about writing is writing so with fancy notebooks and pens, it makes taking the time and easier and more fun task.
I live in a small apartment so I don’t have the space for my own whiteboard, but it’s something that I need for my creative process. Anything from a wall-mounted whiteboard to a double-sided one on wheels can really help a screenwriter plot out their story in many different colors (don’t forget the markers!). The ease of erasing what doesn’t work and writing over it is something you just can’t do as cleanly and efficiently on paper. It also helps that when you get a nice story web going, you feel like a mad genius. It really works!
My friends and I used to joke about turning everyday things into pens for those writers who always need to jot something down before they forget it. Like a razor pen or a toothbrush pen. All joking aside, that’s often very true, especially in situations when paper can get soggy – like in the shower. What to do? There are many options from a diver’s writing slate (varying sizes) or this AquaNotes equivalent of waterproof sticky notes! From $8-15 this is any easy gift. It could even work as a gag gift to tease them about the writer’s proclivity to write things down all the time.
Music is very important to my writing process, but it’s not very helpful if I can’t hear it. If your screenwriter is someone like me, then they might go through earbuds every few months. What they could use is a nice, durable set of headphones. CNET’s ranking of the best headphones of 2017 may be a bit too pricey for some since the cheapest pair is $128.19, but a good pair of headphones doesn’t have to be fancy or bluetooth. Amazon’s bestseller right now is only $38.99 and there are options for quality bluetooth earbuds or earbuds and headphones that can double as functional during workouts too and don’t break the bank.
I cannot praise Spotify enough despite the fact that I still use it free. You could pay for your screenwriter’s Spotify or Pandora for them and they can listen ad-free to their story playlists. Especially if you’re not sure what music they own or like, this could give them the choice to listen to more music than what’s on just one CD or purchase with just one gift card. Spotify is $9.99 a month (unless you catch it during the current deal of the first three months are $0.99) while Pandora Plus is $4.99 a month and Pandora Premium is $9.99 a month. This can be paid through respective gift cards.
Out and About
Sometimes, a great way to write screenplays is to take a step back from writing and go out and enjoy yourself. A great way to do that is to go see a play and support the arts (especially if the screenwriter you know likes to dabble in playwriting). Or movie passes! The average theatre membership is $50-$100 per season and will apply discounts to the seats and shows you wish to see (although most theatre memberships vary from city to city). Movie passes, like MoviePass, are $9.95 a month and allow the member to access any movie at select theaters on any day.
If your screenwriter friend is someone who likes to get inspiration from history and art, a museum membership would be invaluable. A membership can go from $50-125 and is also tax deductible (check your local museum for more details and variances of pricing). Members benefit from discounted prices (like parking!), access to exhibits and events (which can include classes and workshops), and more. You should check with your local museum for specifics as they can vary widely, but the benefit of inspiration and the relaxation away from the screen and in front of art is shared by all.
These are just a few examples of great ideas for screenwriters. Of course, everyone is different, so dig a little deeper into any of these ideas your like. Think of them as inspiration rather than a grocery list. If there’s anything you think I missed, comment and share!