Gifts get a bad rap sometimes. We lament the hurry-scurry feel of the holiday season, and in order to settle our hearts and minds, decide gifts are off-limits. Perhaps because gifts are my love language, or because I’ve both seen and felt the heart-swelling joy of a perfectly chosen (or created) present, I’m putting my foot down. I’m taking a stand in defense of gifts.
A gift can tell a loved one that you see their heart. A gift can inspire fresh curiosity, support emerging creativity, and remind a person of who she is – and who she has the potential to be. A gift can be a point of connection, a reminder of a shared memory, an invitation to play.
Gifts don’t have to be giant to be meaningful. Here’s a list of 25 small Writerly Play inspired gifts sure to encourage the creative person in your life.
Inspire your favorite creative to reflect, dig deep, and find where their heart is showing up in their work.
Every creative process is a hero’s journey. This thought-provoking book is a wealth of creative coaching disguised as a simple paperback, and serves as Yoda to any creative ready to take their work and courage to the next level.
Subtitled “A Journal for Slowing Down, Letting Go, and Loving Who You Are,” this beautifully illustrated journal is filled with engaging questions and prompts, and feels like a breath of fresh air in the midst of a busy day.
End your day with this invitation to playful reflection from the ever-whimsical Workman Press. Every colorful page offers a slightly different format for thinking over the day, determining its highs and lows, and pinpointing insights to carry forward to tomorrow.
Encourage whimsy in every creative work session with these colorful, playful tools.
Dare greatly with this guided sketchbook. Laura Lee Gulledge’s art is rich with metaphor and yet easily accessible. Artists of every medium will enjoy this collection of creative challenges which will push their thinking in new directions.
I often wonder how to stimulate the kind of thinking I might do in an acting class when the group offers a person, place and problem. Here’s an excellent solution! Warm up your drafting muscles by rolling the dice and then telling a story to fit what you roll.
While this card set is usually a party game for seeing how well you know your friends, it can also be played solo. Creatives can take on a character and play with that person’s preferences in mind. Whether they’re exploring a main character, a villain, or an ideal customer, your creative friend will come away with tons of new insight.
When it’s time to revise, it always feels cozy to stack a few friendly reference books on your desk for SOS moments. This one is an excellent guide for any kind of storytelling artist, full of inspiration for those days when all your characters want to do is roll their eyes and sigh.
Yes, I promise! A three-pack of index cards will put a smile on any creative person’s face. Revision is a puzzle, but with a fresh deck of cards for plotting, planning, and strategic thinking, your friend will have all the tools needed to face down any creative tangle. Want to give a problem-solving kit? Add black sharpies and a collection of post-its. Wha-la!
While these questions were designed with game creators in mind, so many of the angles they present are perfect for storytellers of all genres. This deck is a fantastic revision companion, offering over a hundred lenses with which to see and reconsider creative work.
A game AND a book, this hands-on experience is fantastic for warming up revision muscles. The game, as designed, guides the players to think about motivation, dialogue, character, plot and theme. However, this book goes far beyond being a game for young writers. Creatives can adapt many of the games included, and apply the same kinds of critical thinking to their own projects.
A book of stories about words? Better still, like the other Workshop tools, this book isn’t only amusing … it’s a hearty tool that will help creatives find the just-right word and refine their work.
All creatives need mentors. Whether they’re people we meet with in person, or experts we meet through their work, we deepen our work when we stand on the shoulders of giants.
For writers, finding the perfect word is a moment of pure joy. This necklace celebrates the art of the exquisitely chosen word, and describes that feeling of flow that writers can’t help but crave.
How do we visualize what we read? This book is a fascinating lens through which storytellers can take a look at their work from a completely different angle.
When we’re looking for a literary mentor or two, it’s a great idea to wander outside of our comfort zone. This reading log stretches readers to be adventurous, and also to take time to reflect on what they read.
These book darts not only mark your page, but the exact line where you left off. Better still, this adorable tin is from Anne Bogel of What Should I Read Next podcast fame. If your creative friend hasn’t yet discovered this beloved literary podcast, your gift will be a double-whammy: book darts AND a new favorite weekly listen.
The Writerly Play Cafe
Creative works are meant to be shared, but that reality doesn’t make sharing any less daring. These final five gifts acknowledge courage and encourage collaboration.
Would You Rather is one of my favorite storytelling games. This deck of cards will spark thousands of What-If conversations, and help creatives warm up for a collaboration session, or even find that next not-to-be-ignored idea.
Simple words, but true. Brene Brown’s words will look beautiful in a frame hanging over a desk, and will be a helpful reminder that showing up in the arena is worthwhile.
Yes, these printables are free, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. Download the set, print a few copies, and tuck them in a colorful folder. Your friend will be delighted with their new set of tools for giving and receiving feedback at the beginning, middle and end of the creative process.
OR, give the gift of creative momentum!
It’s no fun to feel as though you’re rowing while dragging a thousand pound anchor behind you while developing a novel. Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel is a course that sparks both joy and depth in your creative process.