In today’s fast-paced world of innovation and progress, we often think that faster = better. I’ve been considering this philosophy lately, especially since I learned that February is International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo). InCoWriMo encourages participants to send one piece of hand-written mail each day of February. 29 days, 29 letters. Doesn’t get any easier than that!
When I heard about the challenge through Boho Berry, I was immediately psyched to participate. I don’t usually send much hand-written mail (other than birthday cards), but the last few days of letter writing have reminded me of the many reasons I should! Here are just a few:
1. IT’S UNEXPECTED
Most people email, tweet, text, and Snapchat their way through life without a second thought. One way to stand out in this digital age is to take advantage of the methods other people have written off (no pun intended). Snail mail shows you put in a bit more effort. A personalized letter to your sister makes her feel extra-special, or you might let someone know just how much you appreciated that job interview. Either way, handwritten mail leaves a lasting impression.
2. IT DRAWS OUT THE EXPERIENCE
Typing is fast, efficient, and tidy. It is the default mode for most of the work we do. Sometimes we need time away from efficiency to become immersed in an experience; think quality vs. quality. With letter writing, I can switch off the digital distractions for a few minutes to think about details like which paper to use, how to format the letter, and I can consider the artistry of handwriting and lettering. It’s a very tactile experience. The end product is much more satisfying than a canned email I half expect the recipient won’t read.
3. IT MAKES YOU THINK BEFORE YOU WRITE
I’ll be the first to admit that I change my mind a lot. Like, A LOT. I delete almost every sentence I write before I am truly satisfied with it, and why shouldn’t I? I have a delete button right here that swipes away text faster than I can type it. Not so for handwritten letters. I actually have to take the time to be mindful of the message I want to send my reader. Each word I put down on paper is carefully chosen, especially with no grammar or spell check around to save me. This has exercised corners of my brain rarely needed on a word-processor, and the benefits carry over to the rest of my writing.
4. IT MAY BE BETTER FOR YOUR BRAIN
Some experts believe that writing by hand fosters creativity, leads to better writing, and is better for information retention. If that’s not reason enough, writing by hand is also believed to keep your cognitive functions sharp as you age. Many famous novelists insist on writing their first draft by hand. Bestseller list, here I come!
5. IT’S MORE PERSONALIZED
Unlike an email, how you personalize your handwritten mail is limited only by your imagination. I like to use a simple stationery so I can add my own embellishments and make something truly unique. Aim for a high-quality paper like Crane & Co. stationery sets. They have simple borders and embellishments, so they don’t interfere with doodles and lettering, which I like to add myself. I also prefer a bold ink; Faber Castell is what I use daily for my bullet journal, and they do beautifully on letters as well. The bold ink makes a nice contract against the page.
I don’t always have time to do my own artwork, so I keep some printed stationeries and notecards on hand. Studio Oh! makes adorable printed notecards that always look so friendly to me. The Winrase stationery caught my eye because it comes with brown and black paper, which vaguely reminds me of a farmer’s market: chalkboard signs and paper bags. I love the idea of putting together a chalkboard letter with bright white ink, and brown envelopes.
Companies like Goulet Pens, and Jet Pens, also stock thousands of items that will put your letters at the top of the stack. You can choose stationery, envelopes and liners, ink colors, stickers, doodle with your favorite colored ink, and use special seals to give your letters an extra personal touch. Pinterest is full of ideas for creating envelopes with unique materials and embellishments.
No matter what you write or who receives your letters, handwritten letters are sure to strengthen your personal relationships and give you creative satisfaction. Enjoy!
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I want to hear from you! How do you use handwriting in your everyday life? What are your best experiences with handwritten mail?