Columns > Published on December 5th, 2016

5 Gifts for Writers That Will Motivate Their Lazy Asses

Around this time of year, your favorite websites are going to be exploding with half-assed listicles offering gift ideas. Even writing websites will try their hands at gift ideas for writers. Most of these lists will contain the same worthless entries nobody will seriously consider. Look, if you’ve ever wrapped a notebook in Christmas paper and passed it on to another human being, you’re an asshole, and the writer you gave it to thinks you’re an asshole, too. If they’re a writer, chances are they’ve already bought out Walmart’s entire stock of back-to-school notebooks and most of them are right this very second littering their house, forever unused.

So here are some actual useful gift ideas for writers:

05. Blackmail

I stole this idea from an episode of You’re the Worst. To motivate his writing, Jimmy writes up three different embarrassing letters addressed to his ex-girlfriend, his family, and the North American Man/Boy Love Association. He gives them to his girlfriend and asks her to drop them off at the post office if he fails to meet his book deadline. Of course, she’s only half paying attention, so she mails them later that same day, which introduces hilarious comedic hijinks. Ideally, you will be a bit more competent. Offer your writer friend the same deal. Have them write up some personal, career-ending letters, then hold on to them until they’ve finished whatever project they desire to complete. If they don’t agree with this idea, simply hack their phone or laptop and search for dirt the old fashioned way. Back up everything you think might ruin a person’s life into a flashdrive and threaten to release it to the public unless they get to work.

04. Poison

If you don’t want to get the postal service involved, there’s always the poison route. And no, I’m not talking about the “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” kind. Poisoning another human being is probably the easiest thing somebody can do in this world. We’re not going to tell you how. You’re reading this article, which tells us you possess an Internet connection. Hollywood has been depicting poison scenes since the invention of cameras. Just watch a bunch of them if you’re feeling out of shape. I recommend using one of the classic “you have 24 hours until your heart stops dead” poisons you often see in action movies. Once the poison enters their system, simply let them know that if they haven’t finished ten thousand words by tomorrow, they’ll be dead. It might help to show them some of the poison to let them know you aren’t screwing around. Note: do not forget to also purchase the antidote. (Oh, and this should go without saying, but uh...don’t actually do this. This is a comedy article. We are not responsible for any future poisonings of writers. We are also not responsible for any past poisonings—of writers or otherwise.)

03. Go All Annie Wilkes on Their Asses

If you’ve read the novel Misery or seen the film adaptation (or, hell, even the broadway show!), then you already know what to do. And if you aren’t familiar with Misery’s story, immediately rectify this unfortunate gap in your horror library. We don’t recommend actually handicapping anybody, but imprisoning them for a weekend might be exactly what your writer friend needs. It doesn’t necessary have to be a terrifying time, either. Take them to a cabin. Bring hot cocoa. Just keep in mind that eventually you’re going to include an adorable pig into the mix, so read up on proper pig-caring etiquette ahead of time. Oh, and at the end of the weekend, force your friend to burn whatever they’ve written. Trust me. It’ll be a hoot.

02. Pretend You’re Successful

There is one quick, simple way to immediately piss off your writer friends. Announce that you've sold a book for a shit-ton of money. Bonus points if you’ve never had anything else published before. Come up with a truly terrible plot; I recommend describing it as “Harry Potter fan-fiction with all the names changed.” Wait a month, then announce you’ve already sold the film rights. Watch your friend seethe with rage. But also watch them write faster and better than they’ve ever written in their lives. Revenge writing is always the best writing. However, I should mention that they might become so depressed they give up writing forever, which is—as we all know—the best gift anyone could ever possibly give a writer.

01. Catfish ’em

[Warning: this entry is the lowest of the low. Only those with absolutely zero morals will even briefly consider this idea—and, considering you’re reading one of my articles, I’m going to assume you fall under this category, so please read on.]

Slightly similar to the previous entry, but a thousand times more sinister. Prepare for an immense time investment. What you will need to do is create a publishing company. A website, fake authors, fake books, social media accounts, everything. It’s going to need to look nice, too. The company’s presence can’t give off any warnings that it might in fact be a scam publisher. It needs to be real and professional. You will have to keep the social media accounts frequently updated. You will have to write fake reviews for the fake books. will have to email your friend from a fake email address, and inform them that you’ve read something they’ve previously published, and that you really enjoyed it. Then you’ll ask if they’d consider writing a book for your company. If so, you can offer a high five-figure advance. Get creative and offer additional benefits, too, just go nuts. Tell them you can't draw up a contract until you’ve seen the finished book, and the offer expires in three months. Your friend will write like they’ve never written before. And at the end of this scheme, sure, your friendship will be ruined, but at least they will have a book in need of a home. A finished book! So pat yourself on the back for being the world’s greatest friend, even if they won't immediately appreciate it.

Any other ideas? What would you get that special writer in your life, to really motivate them?

About the author

Max Booth III is the CEO of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

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