This is the Handley Ridiculously Useful Holiday Gift Guide for marketers and writers, updated for 2019.
Here are my picks for ridiculously useful gifts to help marketers become better, more confident communicators now and in the new year.
Some are useful. Some are ridiculous. Some are both. Which are which? Well, that’s up to you.
Marketer Gift Guide for 2019
1. Masterclass writing classes. Wouldn’t it be fun to take a writing class with Malcolm Gladwell, R. L. Stine, Shonda Rhimes, David Mamet, Margaret Atwood, Dan Brown, Judy Blume, or James Patterson? You can, for $90. Or you can pay $180 for an all-access pass, take them all, and spend 2020 developing your made-for-TV nonfiction-thriller street-smart play for young adults.
2. MarketingProfs Marketing Writing Bootcamp. This annual MarketingProfs writing-palooza is specially tailored to what marketers need to know to level-up their writing game. I teach a class on newsletter writing.
3. Working typewriter. Writing on an old-school functioning typewriter will change your writing. Seriously. Why: It’s distraction-free, it’s weirdly and wonderfully tactile, and it slows down the process so that you spend more time on each sentence.
Plus, it’s flat-out playful: A few years ago I spoke at the American Writer’s Museum. It has a table of typewriters, and museum visitors were playing on them like kids in a ball pit. That sold me on the joy of a manual typewriter, right then and there. Because you know what deserves more of a joyful vibe? WRITING.
I don’t have a link to one of these, but you can find them new in some office supply stores or used around the interwebs. (Especially Instagram.)
4. Wireless Typewriter Keyboard. Actual typewriter not your jam? Fine. Work up to it with this Bluetooth-enabled typewriter keyboard, which has an old-school vibe with modern functionality.
I keep mine with my laptop in my Tiny House. You can use it with an iPad, too. Find it in Black at Amazon. Or see it in Limited Edition Mint on the QwertyWriter site. Heck yeah.
5. Reading log. Remember keeping a reading log in elementary school? This is a grown-up version of that, giving you space to record stats and reviews of each book you read. Among the entry pages are 12 challenges inspired by Book Riot’s annual “Read Harder” initiative (props for that name…), which aims to encourage us to try out new genres and titles from a broader range of voices/perspectives.
6. Scrivener. You wouldn’t want to give/get say, Office 365. But book-writing software is a whole different story: It’s a signal that I believe in you. You are going to write a book next year.
7. Waterproof Notepad. Because everyone has their best ideas in the shower.
8 . Grammarly. Again with the software. Obviously, we’re knee-deep in the Useful Swamp on this 2019 gift guide list….
Grammarly has really stepped up its game this year. It’s added Tone of Voice functionality, for one thing. I like how its new editor is so much more than just a grammar-checker, it’s also a personal writing buddy. Sometimes it’s annoying to have an assistant looking over your shoulder, and it’s satisfying to trash their recommendations because sometimes I really do want a run-on sentence just for effect because this paragraph belong to me-me-me you know what I mean…?
9. Writer’s Block Soap. So I don’t believe writer’s block is a thing. But soap obviously is. And so is clever copy that sells soap to wash away fake writer’s block. (They sell bathbombs and candles too).
10. Novel scratch-off chart. This might be the motivation you need to read more. It’s like a winning scratch ticket but what you win is more lasting than actual cash.
11. Cocktail recipe books with a literary twist. For those who take “write drunk, edit sober” literally. The series includes Tequila Mockingbird, Gone with the Gin, and (my favorite) Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita.
12. Litographs prints the text of your favorite books on T-shirts, pillows, scarves, and more… plus it’s Boston-based. I like the blankets best (especially Peter Rabbit, because of Bun). I like the tattoos, too.
14. Book Blend Spices. Books, food, puns. It’s all here in these glorious spice blends with names like Girl with a Pearl Onion (sea salt & cipollini onions), the Salt in Our Stars (salt and purple garlic), and Orange Is the New Black (turmeric, ginger and garlic-infused sea salt).
14 ½. Books to make you a better writer and storyteller My annual reading recommendations will be out in January. In the meantime, go ahead and check out last year’s list and pick up anything you haven’t yet read, mmkay?