To the friends and family of the writer:
It’s too late now to go out and buy your loved one, the writer, a present (probably). Perhaps you’ve put it off so long because you simply don’t know what to get them. A new pen? A notebook? Food? What do writers like? Books? Books about writing? WHAT DO THEY WANT FROM YOU?
It’s not too late, it turns out, to get a writer the perfect gift.
A writer doesn’t need another tool, another device, another distraction (though, sure, all those things are nice, and they’ll still appreciate those things, don’t worry). And they don’t need a pat on the back, a reminder that they are doing a good job and that they are going to make a name for themselves someday.
What a writer needs is simple. Effortless, even.
A writer needs you to read something they’ve written. Just one thing. One short, painless thing.
Why? Because all year, they have been working really hard, trying to be better at doing something they really like to do. And they have kept you out of it, not because they do not like or trust you, but because they know that not everything they write is good, and they want nothing more than to show you the best of themselves, especially in their original work.
Offer. Ask them if you can take just a few minutes to read a little something of what they’ve been working on this year. You’ll be amazed at how much joy this will bring them. Because what they’re looking for isn’t criticism, or even an honest opinion. Just knowing you’re willing to take the time to acknowledge all the effort they have put into their craft this year, in a very meaningful way, is more than enough to make this whole year worth it.
To the writer:
As a writer, you, reading this right now, have hopefully learned how difficult it is to find people willing to read what you have written. This is because people are busy, and they do not have time to read every single word that comes out of your head. It isn’t because they don’t like or appreciate you. It’s because, honestly, some people would really love to sit down and really absorb something you’ve written … but they can’t. They don’t want to rush through it for the sake of reading something you wrote. It wouldn’t be fair to you. They know that.
So as a gift to you this year, you can ask them to do what is usually pointless and often almost selfish to do: ask them to take that time, the time they don’t normally have, to read just a page. Maybe two. Choose a short passage of something you have worked very hard to perfect, bring it to them and say, “For me, just this once, could you read something I’ve created?”
They don’t need to give you feedback. They don’t need to critique every single element of every single line. They just need to read it.
Why? Because it makes you feel good, and you know it. Approach something like this with no expectations, and you will find that people who love you will be more than happy to take a few minutes to dive into your world. This is what the holiday season is all about: celebrating each other. Appreciating each other. Being kind, and respectful. Giving, without expecting anything in return.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.