Picking Next Year’s Planner


With 2017 winding down, it’s time to  share my top 5 picks for planners for 2018.

It’s no newsflash that I am fond of lovely stationery, but I go gaga over new planners. Planners are the mother of all stationery, a blessed union of paper and ink, printing and binding, layout and design. They are both tool and creation, a space for both organisation and inspiration.

My Criteria

Seeing my planner gets a gruelling 365 days of daily use, I don’t rush the selection process. My planner must tick all the boxes. Of course, looks are an important factor, but ultimately a planner has to be supremely useable.

  1. A full combination of spreads:  yearly, monthly, weekly and daily spaces, because they all have their uses.
  2. Not too bulky: My handbag is heavy enough without adding the weight of a phonebook. ON the other hand…
  3. …Not too pokey: I need room to write, remind, draw, plot…
  4. Sturdy: It has to be able to withstand the vortex of death, aka my handbag. Rounded corners and a sturdy cover required.
  5. Quality paper: No thanks to blinding blizzard white, yes please to soothing, restrained ivory – with a smooth finish s’il vous plaît.
  6. Lie-flat binding: I like a planner that opens all the way without wrestling it. And forget the icky spine-breaking nonsense. I dislike wire spiral binders that get in the way and render half the writing surface a no-go-zone.
  7. Bonuses: A ribbon page marker is helpful. **Stickers** are fun, the icing on the planner cake.


My Top Five Choices for 2018

  • Milligram 2018 Family Diary – Weekly Notebook – A5
  • Pilot 2018 Diary for Writers
  • Kiki.K Leather Planner – Sweet
  • MochiThings 2018 Flowery Weekly Journal
  • Hobonichi Techno Cousin


Milligram Family Diary

Milligram 2018 Family DiaryUp first, the 2018 Family Diary from Melbourne’s Milligram (formerly NoteMaker, one of my favourite Australian stationers). Having just rebranded, they’ve launched their own line of Milligram diaries. They’re onto a good thing with this fantastic family-friendly planner. The weekly spread has two pages where everyone’s activities can be noted along with meal planning. There’s a budgeting page and other cool features, like **stickers**! I especially like the gorgeous cover designs and pleasing page layout, created by designer-illustrator-author Beci Orpin.

This planner is perfect for busy families, but as a new empty-nester, this one isn’t the best fit for me now.



Pilot 2018 Diary for Writers

Pilot Diary for Writers 2018This one is a handy tool for writers. The Pilot 2018 Diary for Writers is chock-a-block full of writerly information, inspiration and wisdom in the form of quotes, competitions, festivals and awards. There are pages to track submissions, record lent and borrowed books, and list interesting TBRs.

Three cheers for the excellent paper and targeting writers’ needs, but one frowny-face for the spiral binding.



Kiki.K Sweet Large Leather Planner

Kiki.K Leather Planner SweetOkay: it’s leather. And it has Pugs. And kittens. Say no more.

Nobody in the stationery business does ‘whimsical’ like Kiki.K. They also do ‘gorgeous,’ ‘stylish,’ and ‘wow,’ but I’m smitten with the range they call Sweet, with its cute hand-drawn pugs, kittens, ink bottles, cacti, and more. The Kiki.K Sweet Planner is white leather printed with the Sweet motifs. Inside is lined with a beautiful shade of eggshell blue. It has customisable tabs, is refillable, and comes with **stickers**.

It’s gorgeous but a little too bulky for me.



MochiThings 2018 Flowery Weekly Journal

MochiThings Flowery Journal 2018 Planner.

MochiThings is a wonderful online stationer selling  a full range Korean paper products, from basic to deluxe, plain to cutesy. Planners come in a huge variety of sizes and styles – seriously, they have all kinds of binding, every size, layout, and design you could want. The one I like is called Flowery Weekly Journal. It features a floral cover, is compact in size with a week-to-a-spread, and has the all-important lie-flat binding.

This is very similar to the MochiThings diary I chose for 2017, which worked out great except that I found the B5 size a little too tight.

You’ll want to check out the array of planner accessories for sale at MochiThings.com: there’s washi tape out the wazoo and **stickers** galore. Check out this scrummy Scheduler Kit.

Flowery Weekly Journal – US$22.95*


Hobonichi Techno Cousin

Hobonichi planners are a premium Japanese product with a worldwide cult following. Why are so many people crazy about Hobonichis?

  • The one planner has it all: year, month, week and day pages.
  • 180º lie-flat binding
  • Tomoe River paper (high quality smooth but thin pages to reduce bulk)
  • Daily quotes and quirky information
  • Graph paper pages for design
  • A dazzling array of cool covers to dress up your planner and reuse year after year.
  • Covers have a built-in pen holder and two ribbon markers.
  • A variety of sizes: Weeks is long and narrow. Techno Original is a compact A6 size. Cousin is larger, A5 size.

J¥ 7,020* for Cousin + cover


And the Winner Is…

Hobonichi Cousin 2018.  I am trying out the larger A5 version called Cousin to give myself additional room for jotting notes. As mentioned, B5 cramped my style.

Going with the larger version means I have to read my dates in Japanese kanji, but I think I will manage. Although I won’t be able to enjoy the quotes (and information about quirky things like stretching, Japanese fast food, emergency preparedness, and Japanese holidays), but I can read the days and dates thanks to my years of living in Asia and studying Chinese (and a little Japanese). If Cousin’s language thing is a deal breaker, the good news is the Hobonichi Techno Planner (smaller A6 size) comes in an all English version.

I thought I’d try the variety called Avec, which breaks the year into two volumes, halving the weight of the planner.

Hobonichi Techno Cousin 2018 Avec

Choosing from the 19 different cover designs for Cousin was fun.  I picked a happy shade of yellow with white polka dots and an ice blue interior. Isn’t it darling? I can’t wait to start using it.

Hobonichi Techno Cousin Vitamin Dot Cover 2018

Hobonichi planners can be bought online at Milligram or through the official Hobonichi site.


Over to You!

Got a favourite planner that I should look into (for 2019)? Do you stick with the same one year after year or, like me, keep hunting for the perfect planner? I hope you find a good one for 2018.

Image Credits

Arnel Hasanovic via Unsplash

Planner images via various retailers’ websites

*Prices are approximate and correct at the time of publication.

Bookbinders – a Stationery Addict’s Dream

Bookbinders is Brisbane’s own fabulous little stationery shop, and it’s not too far from where I work. Last week, I stopped by to check it out. Owners Leanne, Roger and Michael took me for a tour and answered all my questions. When Leanne used the word ‘toothy‘ to describe paper, my heart knew it was among friends.

Bookbinders stationery shop is sure to warm the hearts of all true pen and paper lovers. The owners are the real deal — Roger and Michael are both bookbinders by trade. They stock a huge range of premium products, from Midori Traveler notebooks and accessories to Pilot Prestige pens.

For stationery addicts outside of southeast Queensland, check out Bookbinders’ online store, but Brisbanites should definitely visit. While you’re there, check out Bookbinder’s charmingly old-world Kingsley Hot Stamping Machine (shown right) for monogramming notebooks.

Paper – Canvas of Dreams

My resolve not to buy another notebook crumbled when I saw the Field Notes steno book. It’s a handy size to carry around, and its sturdy cover will stand up even to handbag punishment. The spiral binder is at the top, comfortably out of the way no matter which side of the page you write on. The ivory paper is lined and divided into two columns with an attractive but unobtrusive shade of tan.

Bookbinders also carry paper products — toothy and otherwise — by Apica, Fabio Ricci, Hugo Boss, Midori Traveler, Tomoe River, and their own brand.

Fountain Pens – Swanky Word Swords

They cater to every pen budget, with a range that spans from the economical, everyday-carry type to the swoon-worthy, high-end fountain pens.

At AU$9.90, Pilot Preppy fountain pens are a good everyday carry solution. A Preppy is cheap enough that you won’t worry about losing or dropping it. I’d heard that fine nibs made in Asia are finer than European fine nibs, but it’s crazy how much finer. The 0.3 will be perfect for my planner, where I prefer tiny writing in a crisp line to keep everything neat. My next Preppy will be a 0.5 medium as the 0.3 is a little too scratchy (and not juicy enough) for my taste and writing speed.

Ink – Writers’ Elixir

Some stationery shops tuck the ink bottles and samples in a tantalising display behind the counter, out of reach. Not so at Bookbinders. They let customers handle the ink. If you’ve longed to experience the entire scintillating  range of Iroshizuku inks, stop by for a play at their display desk.

Especially cool is Bookbinders’ own brand, Snake Ink. It comes in nifty packaging — a tiny burlap bag like a snake catcher uses. Each shade is named after a species of snake.

I admit it — I was a sucker for their motto:

SNAKE INK: Cures Writers’ Block

Yes, thank you. I’ll take three. I demonstrated some restraint and bought only one colour, a gorgeous grey shade called Ground Rattler. It has a lovely pencil look to it.

I love the branding!

The Ink Miser kit consists of a shot glass and pipette (new word for me. I had to ask Michael to spell it for me. It’s a dropper with a long, flexible tube). The kit makes refilling fountain pens easier and tidier, and it prevents wastage.

*Sigh* Ink … It’s almost magical. It makes me want to write and write and write. Check out my Pinterest board, Writers’ Elixir, which features dreamy inks and writing implements.

Stationery – Necessities, of course!

I couldn’t resist the Maste washi tape with the tumbling pandas. Nor could I say no to the Midori pug-shaped brass paperclips. Swoon!

But the coolest discovery was the mini Midori tape measure. Smaller than one inch square, it’s the perfect size to tuck into a wallet.

Desk-cessories – aka Mind Declutterers

My favourite find was the Landscape Desk Organiser, a clever metal box with lids that come in a variety of ‘terrains’ or surfaces. I picked the business card holder style. It’s currently my glasses and pen perch. I have the annoying habit of leaving my reading glasses in silly spots and even losing them on my desk under papers and notebooks. So far the Landscape organiser is helping. Inside I’ve stashed frequently used items, like paperclips, rubber bands and lip balm. These are currently (at time of posting) on sale for a fantastic discount, so get in quick!

The Verdict

I plan to go back and pick the brains of the owners. I’d love to learn more about their monogramming machine and find out what makes bookbinders tick. I have lots more to learn and share about ink too, so watch this space!

Over to You

Do you have a favourite pen, ink or notebook? Does ink inspire you? Do you like traditional colours (blue-black), fun colours (crimson) or earthy (chestnut). Guess which I prefer!

Photo Credits

With the exception of the top photo, all images come from Bookbinders.com.au with the permission of the owners.

The photographer is Millyjane

All I Want for Xmas is The Arty Hearts Stationery

Dear Santa,

I’m ready to let you off the hook for last year’s gift-giving bungle ( An inSinkerator?  For me?  Really?? )  I’m a writer, not a plumber.

This Christmas, just leave a stash of summery stationery from The Arty Hearts under my Christmas tree, and we’re all good.

We’ll pretend Christmas 2015 never happened.

And Santa, when  I say ‘a stash of stationery’, what I mean is a haul. A big, bright, beautiful collection like this…


from The Arty Hearts.

Or how about this…



The Arty Hearts produces boutique stationery for the true paper lover. Their products feature the gorgeous artwork of Australian designer Katrina Read. Her stationery is luxurious: premium paper and quality workmanship. Her bright designs are on-trend and so cute: shells, pineapples, tropical flowersflamingos, watermelonFRENCHIES!

(Ooh, Santa, remind me to talk to you later about a Frenchie puppy for Christmas 2017.)

Who wouldn’t love to carry this sweet little Pocket Planner? Four darling pads of peel-n-stick notes in a slim folder decked with soothing greenery. I feel breezy and cool just looking at it. A pretty green pencil holds it all together, so it’s sturdy enough to endure a daily ride my handbag.

Open Pocket Planner – Palm Design


Closed Pocket Planner – Flower Design

No doubt, Santa, you’re aware one item of stationery is never enough. So I’ll take a gorgeous weekly desk planner to give my work space a pop of colour and pizzazz … And a few luxe notebooks, large and small…


… Matching pencils, cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, shopping lists …

We have achieved Paper Nirvana. Thanks heaps, Santa!

BTW, I’ve been a very good girl this year.

Lots of Christmas cheer,


PS: Santa, you might consider shopping for the Missus at The Arty Hearts. I hear last Christmas’s Dust Buster didn’t go down too well.

Where to Buy

The Arty Hearts boutique stationery range is available at boutique retailers around Australia. Check out their store on the HardtoFind website and follow on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Share to Win a Notebook!

Start your new year right—with a fresh, clean page in a cheerful new notebook. I have one deluxe notebook from The Arty Hearts to give away to a randomly selected winner.

Share this post on Twitter or Facebook before 15 November, and tag me (not at the beginning of the tweet or only I will see it). @Ali_Stegs

All Images ©TheArtyHearts, Used with Permission

Fun Gift Idea – Busy Bee Stationery Subscription


Stationery lovers are the easiest people to shop for. Seriously—give them something as simple as a nice notebook or a well-weighted  pen, and they will love you for life.

But if you want to give a gift that is full of surprises, consider a stationery box subscription. Busy Bee Stationery sends out monthly boxes of coordinated stationery for the diehard paper addict in your life (or for you).

I stumbled upon Busy Bee on Twitter and was immediately intrigued by the gorgeous range of high-quality products and the fun possibility of receiving a box of carefully curated stationery every month. Busy Bee’s Twitter and Instagram showed hundreds of loyal and happy customers. Here are a couple of shots from @beestationery’s Twitter feed:

BusyBee Twittter Feed photo1

BusyBee Twittter Feed photo2

BusyBee Twittter Feed photo3

This one shows the August box, one of my favourites.

Taking One for the Team

In the name of dedication to the craft of blogging and thorough research (I swear my addiction to paper had nothing to do with it!), I dutifully subscribed to Busy Bee. Living in Australia meant my box had a bit further to travel, but the wait was worth it. I received all kinds of fun products—many that I use constantly, some that I’m saving for special occasions, and a few that will make nice gifts because they are not my style.

Over the months that I subscribed to Busy Bee, I received a wide range of products, from photo album and scrapbooking materials to desk accessories. There was washi tape, blank notecards, and several items from the Santoro’s huge Gorjuss range.

Most of all, I enjoyed the traditional paper products and office supplies, including:


So cute in pink!

A date stamper

It adds a quaint library-esque touch to my hand-written letters, and it’s fun to use in my journal. It reminds me to use some of my other stamp pads and ink.


The Arty Hearts products are designed and printed in Australia!

A set of summery notebooks

These soft-covered notebooks  from The Arty Hearts are almost too pretty to use with their beautiful watercolour covers, but the premium paper inside beckons. These came in a beach-themed pack, which included beachy notecards and this cute nautical pen.


Bullet journalling, here I come!

A Leuchtturm notebook in magenta

Leuchtturm notebooks  have been on my wish-list ever since I learned that they are fountain-pen-friendly. The paper is thick enough tp prevent bleed-through. The bonded leather cover gives the notebook enough oomph to handle the occasional trip in my beach bag. It arrived in the bullet-journal-themed box with a gorgeous lettering brush pen in matching pink.

A set of 10 Staedtler fine-liner pens

I rely on my writing calendar to keep me on track and accountable, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Washi tape and coloured pens make it bright and inspiring. This set of pens is perfect for the job.


The orange Jetstream pen came in my first Busy Bee box and has been a favourite ever since.

The Write Drink coaster

This little guy has a permanent spot on my writing desk. The retro typewriter adds a cute touch to my work area. A simple treasure.

A pack of Write Notepads & Co pencils

These chubby white pencils are the best. Harkening back to elementary school, they help me get in touch with my playful inner child. A two-holed sharpener was included.

My Review

A Busy Bee Stationery box subscription is a fun gift for the stationery fiend. The products are excellent quality. Brands I received included: Leuchtturm, Santori, Pink Paislee, The Arty Hearts, Caran d’Ache, Graphique, Staedtler, and more.

I loved the premium quality notebooks best of all, and the desk products (erasers, sharpeners, stamps, and writing tools) were most suited to my tastes. These simple things make my heart thrum.

A couple of boxes contained scrapbooking or photo album decorations, which are not my cup of tea. They were lovely products, but I have no use for them. There were also a couple of boxes which included Gorjuss products. The pencil-case, desk set, pens, and stamp set are sweet and good quality, but are more suited to someone much younger.

All in all, I think the Busy Bee Stationery Box subscription is a super service. The items are useful and fun. The service from Busy Bee is tops. They are quick to respond to questions and issues. The Busy Bee community is vibrant too, with customers invited to share their gorgeous photos on Twitter and Instagram. They’re on Pinterest too!

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

The stationery addict on your Christmas list will swoon for this gift. The cost of a monthly box of goodies is US$39.90, with free postage in the US. Worldwide shipping is available at standard international fees. (Postage to Australia made the subscriptions quite expensive for me. Sadly, I had to cancel my subscription, but I totally enjoyed my few months of ‘research.’)

Over to You

Okay stationery addicts, bookworms, and word-nerds, what do you think is the ideal gift? I’d love to hear from you for inspiration for future posts. Please leave a comment or fill in this quick survey about gifts for readers, writers and stationery addicts.

Image Credit: WerbeFabrik, CC0

New Year, New MochiThings Planner

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 3.42.01 pmThere’s nothing like starting a new year with a fresh diary. All those empty pages, waiting to be filled with the dreams and designs and fun of an unfolding year.

Despite being digital-calendar-dependent, I still revert to a hard-copy scheduler for month-to-month planning. There’s something about the act of writing it down that helps me macro-manage my time, and I like the bird’s-eye view of a whole month spread out in front of me. It’s an essential tool for writers and bloggers as far as I’m concerned.

IMG_0427Last year, I used MochiThings‘s Iconic Desk pad. Each page of the dateless pad has a blank monthly grid and an elegant design down the right side. I use that space to write summaries of the past month and alerts for the month ahead.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 4.57.15 pm

Deco Stickers to highlight dates.

Fine (.28) gel pens, petite deco stickers, and washi tape turn the blank calendar into a colourful,effective planning tool.


The transparent deco stickers are a fun way to keep track of writing progress. Yellow spots mark my Spilling Ink posts and pink ones mark e-Quipped. The book-spine washi tape (pictured below and sold here) highlights literary events, while other washi tape indicates important dates, like submission deadlines and holidays. At the end of the month, I archive the sheet for record keeping.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 4.14.08 pm

Washi Tape with books!

The one downfall of the Iconic pad is that it’s meant to use on a desk, so it wasn’t the best thing to carry to meetings and so forth. I decided I’d upgrade to a more portable planner.

I went straight back to the MochiThings website because of their enormous selection and fantastic website. They have something for everyone, even über-picky shoppers like me. Here’s my planner checklist:


  • Big enough for info and stickers
  • Small enough to fit in my laptop sleeve
  • Room for notes


  • Heavy duty cover
  • Rounded corners to prevent dog-earing
  • Protective sleeve for portability


  • Able open flat
  • Stitched binding (Spiral binding makes hard to write on the left page, and spines prevent the page lying flat)
  • No distracting graphics or weird sayings
  • Stylish design — not too plain, not too prissy

Ahem…Like I said: über-picky. (You should see my specs for notebooks and pens!)

A Foxy 2016 Scheduler

After losing half a day to browsing the MochiThings website and blog, I found the perfect scheduler for this year. The 2016 Ardium MonthlyPlanner for US$14.95. Out of an array of gorgeous designs, I chose the Mustard Fox. Very cute, and it ticks all the boxes above—especially the style box. Foxes AND mustard. Gah…

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 1.42.32 pm

A close runner-up was the Molang Scheduler. It includes weekly as well as monthly pages, and it comes with a set of cute stickers of Molang (a cuddly monster or a fat bunny?). The spiral binding sits at the top of the calendar, where it won’t get in the way. In the end it was a tiny bit too small for my handwriting, so I picked the slightly larger Ardium. Molang is a  blank calendar, so it can be started any month of any year. A set of bright date stickers will make it pop.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 3.10.30 pm

Hmmm…I still like this one a lot. I hope I’ve made the right choice!

My third pick was the Scheduler Kit for $19.95. It comes with a Medium Monthly Planner (below), a sticky note set, a stick-on diary pocket, a set of date stickers, and a 2015/2016 calendar sticker set. All of the items can be bought separately, and the Medium Monthly Planner comes in a variety of sizes. I prefer large one.

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Whooo Needs Accessories?

My 2015 Panda calendar stickers are going into retirement to make way for the Owls of 2016. These Owl Deco Stickers are a hoot. They’re probably a little large for use in a planning calendar, but Whooo cares?

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 1.40.08 pm


And these little Owl Index Stickers are adorable.

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Back to School Bonanza

The end of January means it’s back-to-school time in Australia. For first time in nearly twenty years, I didn’t have to order a huge haul of stationery for the school year. It’s a good thing, because I’d have a hard time resisting MochiThings’s School Collection. Look at the adorable fringed backpack stuffed with all kinds of goodies–pretty notebooks, a whole Roy-G-Biv of gel pens, stickers, pencil cases, and more. $199.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 1.36.25 pm

What a haul of goodies! Forget the planner–I want to go back to school!

Check out Tumblr for the MochiThings Blog.

Stationery Fiends, Anyone?

Does new stationery make you weak in the knees? Tell us what desk-cessory or paper product you can’t do without.

MochiThings images used with permission

Cute Stationery Gifts Galore!

Stationery, office supplies, school supplies–or (the term I’ve coined) Desk-cessories. No matter the name for this category of stuff, I crave it! Paper products bring on a swoon. Lovely pens leave me breathless. Beautifully appointed desks make me go ga-ga.

Better Together Note Pouch | Be still, my beating heart!

MochiThing’s Better Together Note Pouch | Be still, my beating heart!

Just looking at this photo of MochiThing‘s Better Together Note Pouch triggers furious flood of dopamine in my brain. Sigh.

Hi, I’m Alison and I am a hoarder of notebooks, a collector of pens, a shameless drooler for desk gear. Go ahead: Call me stationery-addicted. I don’t care. Just hand over the damn stickers/stapler/sticky tape dispenser, and no one gets hurt.

Suppliers for My Next Fix

photo (12)

Screen Shot of my iPad

I have a dealer to satisfy every paper-product urge: Classy-Fine, Fancy-Pantsy, Artsy-Fartsy, even Cutesy. I keep my black book of suppliers in a folder on my iPad called “Paper Fix.” In it are about twenty links to pen and paper merchants’ websites around the globe. (Don’t judge me! Plenty of women do the same thing for handbags, shoes, and make-up. Anyway, a biro is a lot cheaper than a Coach bag!)

Need a Cute Fix?

Nobody does cute stationery like MochiThings. Today, I’d like to share a few cute items from the MochiThings collection. Any stationery lover will enjoy adding these items to her (probably not his, sorry guys) desk top or pencil case. Below are the Spilling Ink picks, with a couple of bookish items to start off.

MochiThings Cuteness Overload

Planner with a Fairy Tale Flavour

Cute Stationery MochiThings

Who says your daily planner has to be dreary? This Alice in Wonderland Planner is packed with gorgeous features. A durable hard cover, an elastic band to keep it closed in your handbag, and, best of all, lots of stickers to brighten your day. It’s dateless, so it can be started any time.

Fairy Tale Phone Wallet

Cute Stationery MochiThings

You can coordinate your planner with this cute Alice phone case for iPhone 5. It comes in Alice in Wonderland or Le Petit Prince. The wallet includes slots for three cards and a place to stash a couple of notes or business cards.

Pretty Ruled Notebooks

Cute Stationery MochiThings

Any school student would love to start the year with a few of these funky printed notebooks. They’d make a writer happy too!

These Sticky Notes are Too Cute!

Cute Stationery MochiThings

Use these Matroyshka Sticky Notes to mark pages when you’re reading or to decorate your planner.

Cable Holders

Cute stationery MochiThings

No more rooting around under your desk in search of wayward cables. These cute self-adhesive Rabbit Ear Cable Holders will lock them in place on your desk surface.

MochiThings – More Than a Cute Face!


 Basic Monthly Planner

Cute Stationery MochiThings

This Medium Monthly Planner is basic but oh-so-handy. No frills, just page after page of empty planning space. I’m getting one of these to do my blog planning in 2015.

Super Handy Purse Organiser


MochiThings doesn’t only do cute–they also specialise in functional. Tame the black hole in your handbag with this wonderful Slim Handbag Insert. You won’t believe the stuff you can fit into it. This one is at the top of my Christmas list! (Santa, take note!)

Gifts that Satisfy Paper Urges

Quell your cute cravings at MochiThings–or better yet, equip your favourite writer with some fresh desk-cessories because…

…Happiness is a well-appointed desk (and fully kitted out pencil-case.)

Images of products are used with permission from MochiThings.

Best Books for Writers: Great Gifts!

According to old-school legend, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but if he’s a writer, it’s a safe bet the way to his heart is through his bookshelf. Never let it be said that I’m sexist! A gift of good books works just as well for women writers! What better way to affirm the budding or established author in your life than by stuffing their library full of the best books for writers?

Best books for writers

Building the Essential Writer’s Bookshelf

How do you know what’s good? Goodreads usually answers this kind of question, but its Best Writing Books list names 432 titles! Because I can tell your heart is bursting to encourage the writer in your life, I’m going to do the hard work for you. My Goodreads shelf Writers’ Essentials holds nine must-have books for writers: five books on storytelling and craft, two reference books, and two highly browsable, creativity sparkers.

Five Must-Have Writing Craft Books

These books inspire good prose, spark literary excellence, and develop solid storytelling ability.

  • Reading Like A Writer: A Guide for People who Love Books & for Those who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose
  • Story: Style, Structure, Substance & the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee [Helpful for novelists too!]
  • Elements of Story: Field Notes on Non-fiction Writing by Francis Flaherty
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
  • Writing Irresistible Kidlit: the Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adults and Middle Grade Readers by Mary Kole.

Click the screenshot below to visit my Writers’ Essentials shelf.

Essential Writers' Bookshelf

Two Essential Reference Manuals

Any writer who plans to submit work to editors and publishers needs a style guide and a writer’s marketplace manual. When deciding on which manuals, the big question is “Where?” Geography (hence, language convention and market) matters. North American writers use Writers’ Market.  I live, write, and sell primarily in Australia, so my desk is equipped with the following:

This one lists agents, publishers, and all kinds of things serious writers need to know. It’s like a Refidex for writers. I find it handy to have a physical copy of the Writer’s Marketplace so I can mark it up, dog-ear pages, and so forth. But the trouble is, these manuals have a shelf-life of about two years. An annual subscription to the AWM is a great option–and a wonderful gift for a writer.

  • Style Manual: For authors, editors, and printers (Sixth Edition)

Pretty dry reading really…It covers things like comma rules, capitalisation conventions, and the official formatting of citations. Yay. But these two writing books aren’t about fun; they’re all about writing and presenting as professionally as you can.

Two Quirky & Curious Creativity Sparkers

Now for the fun part! Your writer is going to love these books. They’re full of geeky goodness and word-nerdery. Both are perfect for fantasy aficionados, but anyone who appreciates language will enjoy them.

  • Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (19th ed.) by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, edited by Susie Dent

Scholarly, eclectic, and up-to-date. Entries about heraldry and pub names sit amongst articles on steampunk and crowdsourcing

  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones

Part tongue-in-cheek send-up, part serious genre guide, this book is wickedly funny. A travel guide through the undulating landscape of Fantasyland.

A gift of a bundle of these books for writers will show how much you support your loved one’s dreams. If you have a favourite book for writers, please share it in the comments.

Creative Commons Image by Pane & Vino