Letter writing series - #1 Why we write letters

So many people today feel rushed and are addicted to their phones. So why would you want to handwrite a letter? What's the point when you can shoot off an email, quickly?

It might be precisely because writing a letter is not an adrenaline-fueled activity. It's intentional. Focused and steady. Even calming.

Have you ever received a handwritten letter? Can you recall how it made you feel? If it came through the post, it was likely a pleasant surprise within the stack of bills and flyers. An envelope with a pretty stamp, swirly script and maybe even a wax seal, sticker or doodle is a bit like finding treasure.

In difficult times, whether it's a global situation, local or personal, just think of how a handwritten note would delight someone you know. It's an act of kindness, but it also demonstrates how you value that person and your relationship. Your focused attention, time and personal touches make it so.

Writing a letter may also be a way of connecting with those older than you. Chances are, they grew up with handwritten letters as the norm. Receiving it from someone younger, who is keeping the ritual alive, is bound to endear many. Letter writing has a long history.

Handwriting letters is much more personal than communicating over a computer or phone. It can capture and reveal your mood. For example, when a person is stressed, ill or aged, their penmanship may appear shaky. When they're excited or jubilant, you may find the text to be swirly, loopy, or large.

Handwriting can also place us in time. Have you ever looked back at your own writing from childhood? Perhaps you were someone who used to draw little hearts or stars over your small 'i's and 'j's instead of a dot?

The personal element of handwriting is one reason people hold onto letters as keepsakes. They're much more emotional than emails or text messages. A personal note between two people is private and can allow deep feelings and issues to naturally flow through.

Yet for all the reasons why it's great to receive a handwritten letter, there're so many why it's great to write a letter. It's something you can do without screens (your eyeballs will be grateful). It gives you practice writing - both in regard to form (e.g. cursive, calligraphy, etc.) and content.

The act of handwriting is also therapeutic and has mental and emotional health benefits. If you're writing to express your gratitude to someone, it will make you happier. It can also be a way to reconnect with those you know and meet new people through pen-pal programs.

  
 

Next week, we'll discuss more about the 'how' of letter writing. Until then, we wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day this Thursday and a wonderful week - the last one of winter!

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