For Montclair Local


“All Write Now” reflects the writing life. Steph Auteri is a full-time freelance writer and editor who has written for the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, VICE and other publications. Her memoir, “A Dirty Word,” came out in October 2018. She is a member of Montclair’s The Write Group. For more, visit


As a full-time freelancer, it's a given that my work load will dip and rise over time, leaving me twiddling my thumbs one month and hyperventilating over my Google calendar the next. But October was a doozy. My book, “A Dirty Word,” was released at the beginning of the month and my days quickly became consumed by last-minute interviews, guest posts and, most exhausting of all, in-person events.

That's right. The socially anxious introvert who prefers to hide behind her laptop 90 percent of the time was forced to speak articulately about her book in front of groups of people, multiple times. Is it any wonder that a month later I feel depleted, my desk littered with twisted-up tissues and a variety of nasal decongestants?

Thank god we're approaching the holidays. Am I right? That time of year when I can think about twinkle lights instead of work. That time of year when I can count on my loved ones to buy me the things I've been coveting, but have been unable to afford because I was too busy setting aside money for my quarterly taxes. The things that could possibly make my life easier, or cozier, or more relaxing, or even more inspiring.

If you're at a loss as to what to buy the cherished writer in your life, may I make a few suggestions?

Notebooks. Every writer can use a small, purse- or pocket-sized notebook to carry around with them, in which to jot down notes and source info and ideas that pop up when they're not near their computer. I particularly adore the glitter notebooks that can be had for just a few bucks at Watchung Booksellers, because, deep down inside, I am apparently still a 4-year-old girl. But they're fun, and make for great stocking stuffers. Though, if you're looking for something a bit more dignified, the shop also has your classic Moleskine in stock.

Cozy Socks. Watchung Booksellers also carries my favorite brand of socks, a nerdy line of footwear by Out of Print. Available in both knee-high length and classic cut, and emblazoned with bookish in-jokes, they're perfect for lounging about one's home office.

A Bath Bomb for Work Breaks. The beauty of being at home during the work day is that you can take breaks for a nap or yoga or even a relaxing soak in the tub, things that are generally frowned upon in your average office environment. Make your writer's bath break extra special with a bath bomb from DollyMoo. My favorite is the $6 patchouli saffron bath bomb, made with a variety of natural ingredients, including love and magick. But you could also go extra fancy and splurge for the $7 Wisdom Keeper bath bomb. Every writer could use an extra dose of wisdom to get through the day.





Lunch. The thing about working from home is that time tends to bend and warp, and meals are sometimes forgotten. Urge your fragile writer to eat with a gift certificate from one of their favorite local lunchtime eateries, like MishMish Café or Mesob.

Coffee. Endless Coffee. I know it's a cliché, but I can't make it through the day without at least three cups of homebrewed coffee. Keep your writer's pantry well-stocked with beans from local roasters like Thought in Motion Creation Café and Local Coffee. If your writer prefers tea over coffee (god forbid), hit up The Tea Store.

This Citronella Candle. I Swear. I know it seems odd to be thinking about this as winter descends but, eventually, your writer will be able to work out on their back deck again. Which is why I highly recommend the citronella candles from Swoon. The eucalyptus one smells divine.

Inspiration. Every so often, the tank runs dry and I don't know what to write next. I know this is not uncommon among writers. How might you inspire the writer in your life? Why not swing by Watchung Booksellers or the Montclair Book Center and pick up something that lets them indulge their love of books? Two fantastic options that recently released are Susan Orlean's “The Library Book” and Jane Mount's “Bibliophile.” Or you can pay for an experience. The Montclair Art Museum and Montclair Film both offer memberships that allow for free and discounted access to fun events.

Barring all of this, sometimes the best gift for a writer is your support. Buy their book. Leave them an Amazon or Goodreads review. Talk them up to other readers.

Oh, and if you know my friends and family — feel free to pass this column along to them.


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