“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.” – Lord Byron
How long has it been since you wrote a handwritten letter? For most people, I would guess the answer is a few years; maybe even a decade or so. These days everyone is connected every minute of their day, always checking texts, emails, notifications, snaps, and a thousand other little things. With instant communication so easily accessible most people have retired letters to the annals of history.
Call me an old soul, but I absolutely love writing letters. I am obsessed with all things snail mail! I get excited about finding the perfect stationery, buying gorgeous stamps, and putting pen to paper. There is something incredibly thrilling about receiving mail that isn’t bills and advertisements. It’s also rejuvenating to step away from the digital world occasionally and focus on the slow analog systems society has all but abandoned. There are so many reasons why we should write more letters, but here are my top 5.
1. Letters last a lifetime
A sweet text message may make you smile once or twice before being pushed to the back of the line and eventually deleted. That is merely the nature of our efficient communication system. A letter, however, is a tangible sentiment and easily saved. I have a few boxes filled with the missives I have received. Friends, near and wide, who have written to me took the time from their busy schedules to think of me and fill pages with caring and intention. Each note, postcard, or letter I receive signifies the time taken to cultivate the bond between us. These letters also serve as a snapshot of an ongoing conversation; offering a glimpse into precise moments in our lives.
2. They preserve the art of handwriting
With the rise of technology, many of us have noticed a steady decline in the legibility of our script. There are even many schools across the country no longer teaching cursive to students. However, aside from being beautiful and unique handwriting helps to exercise our visual, memory, and motor skills in ways that typing doesn’t. Writing letters by hand keeps these skills sharp not just for you, but for the reader as well. Personally, I have noticed a marked improvement in my handwriting since I jumped back into snail mail. I remember, as a child, my penmanship was a point of pride, and now that I am exercising that muscle it has become so again. Sure it’s a small thing to boast, but it makes me feel great when I see my letters neatly arranged on paper.
3. Sending mail is inexpensive
Mailing a letter is super cheap, guys. While stamps saw a rate increase this year, they are still only 50 cents. Most stamps come in sheets or books of 20, although some commemorative come in smaller amounts. Really, though, that means sending a letter will be about the cheapest thing you do all week. For the price of two Venti Chai Latte’s, you can mail twenty letters or cards to people you care about and brighten their day.
4. Letters are deeply personal
The thing about text messages and social media is that they can become impulsive and reactionary. It’s easy to type out any old thing and hit send. With a letter, though, we have to be more intentional. It causes us to pause and consider not only our wording but our audience. I handcraft each letter for its recipient. If I am taking the time to write you a letter, believe that a lot of thought has gone into it. I always treat my letters the same way I treat my conversations by carefully considering the person I am talking to before proceeding. Since I think of letters as an intimate platform, I am also more likely to open up and share the details of my life that I might not discuss in a different setting.
5. It allows you to get creative
It all starts with a little card filled with sentiments but before you know it you are up to your ears in crafting supplies. At least, that’s how it was for me. I love sending mail that is full of doodles, pictures, paintings and the like. Handmade envelopes are a ton of fun to create and allow you to personalize your mail further. Stickers, rubber stamps, washi, and even custom address labels are an exciting way to add flair and personality. There are infinite different ways you can get creative with your letters.
I’m not expecting anyone to trade in their cell phones for snail mail, but I definitely encourage you to incorporate letter writing into your life. I promise it will make you positively giddy when you open your mailbox and find a letter from a friend in there. If you’re not sure who you should write to join a pen pal club, there are many available on Facebook and throughout the internet!
What are you waiting for? Sit down with a large cup of tea and write a letter letting someone know you care!