The Lost Art of Letter Writing (And Why We Need to Get It Back)

I love connecting with people all over the globe. For someone like me, todayís online world offers a smorgasbord of opportunities. I can send emails, leave blog comments, write text messages and much, much more.

Before the internet I wrote letters. Iíd send a pages-long missive to my friend in London and a couple of weeks later there’d be†an even longer reply from him waiting in my mailbox. When I moved to Cape Town my Nana sent me short updates in her barely legible scrawl. I wrote back with news of my own. Years later, I regaled my mother with stories of life in Toronto.

I still love the internet, but Iíve come to realize that letter writing is a lost art that we need to get back. There’s something about the physical act of putting pen to paper. Itís more meaningful and more personal. You’re able†to express yourself more thoughtfully. With no backspace key to edit your every word, writing longhand allows†your thoughts to just flow.

WHY WRITING LETTERS BY HAND MATTERS

We live in an ‘always on’ world where things happen in an instant. Thatís great if you need a speedy response from a client or you want to bounce an idea off a friend, but it falls short when youíre expressing deeper emotions like sympathy or love.

ďSending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someoneís door,Ē says The Art of Manlinessí Brett McKay. You may not be able to visit the friend who is going through a rough patch, but taking the time to hand write a note or card will let them know how much they mean to you.

You didnít just flip open your laptop and bang out an email. Your cared enough to dig out a†pen and notepad and write your thoughts out in longhand. Then, you put your letter in an envelope, sealed and stamped it and put it in the postbox. Your energy and love permeated every aspect of the message.

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO WRITE LETTERS

write more handwritten letters

We need to teach our kids to write letters, too. Todayís generation of children has only ever communicated electronically. Encouraging them to take the time to write a note to their grandparents to say thank you for a gift offers a tangible lesson in gratitude.

Itíll also help them appreciate that people communicate in different ways. And thereís the novelty of receiving a letter in the mail thatís addressed to them. Most kids nowadays have terrible handwriting. Having them write letters could help them improve it.

Another plus is that letter writing changes†your body†and brain. One study†found that students who took longhand notes in class tended to think more critically about lecture material and record concepts in their own words.†That’s reason enough to get our kids writing more and typing less.

WHO DO YOU WRITE TO?

Okay, but who on earth will you even write to? I mean, isnít everyone online? Well, there are a few approaches here.

You could surprise a loved one (or a crush) with a beautifully written letter. Posting it would add the extra touch, but even if you left it on their pillow (or windshield) it would still mean a lot.

Second, and this is my current favorite, you could subscribe to a site like More Love Letters and write to people who are having a hard time. Not-for-profit and completely mission-driven, the global organization uses the power of social media to write and mail letters to strangers the world over.

The concept is super simple. People nominate someone they believe could use a love letter bundle and then MLL picks stories that resonate. You then get the chance to write a letter and mail it in. As they say, ďThe task is small but the impact is greater than you can imagine.Ē

I started an old school writing project with the long-term goal of sending a postcard to every country in the world. While Iíve sent postcards to a number of different countries, my main aim is simply to spread joy and happiness. You could try something similar.

Iím definitely not one of those Ďwhen we were young things were betterí people. I love how technology has turned the world into a global village. I have friends and colleagues Iíve never met, I’m inspired by people I’d never have known†about pre-internet†and let’s face it, learning is so much easier now.

But thereís something about this old school way of communicating that technology can never replicate. Maybe itís the human touch or perhaps itís because technology plays no part in the letter writing process. I donít know for sure. What I do know is that old school pen and paper letter writing is rewarding in the extreme.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

73 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thank you for posting

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Yfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

I very rarely write letters now

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Deborah W
Deborah W6 months ago

>>> This is MY total comment. (Don't know how all that extra stuff stuck on.)

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Deborah W
Deborah W6 months ago

Personally feel letter writing is a lost art we need to get back. It's more meaningful and personal, expressing ourselves in terms of deeper emotions, more thoughtfully laid out. AND THEY CAN BE SAVED, TAKEN OUT AND REREAD ON THOSE BAD DAYS WE ALL HAVE. Good idea to teach our kids to write letters. But first they will need to spell and print/write. GOOD IN SO MANY WAYS. Who should they write to? How about each other? Each will have their own way of communicating, good practice for the bigger world they will one day be released into. Grandparents (old school) would love it, while at the same time today's current crop of kids can unknowingly learn to express themselves , openly and unconditionally. Win-Win all around.
grandparents to say thank you for a gift offers a tangible lesson in gratitude.

It’ll also help them appreciate that people communicate in different ways. And there’s the novelty of receiving a letter in the mail that’s addressed to them. Most kids nowadays have terrible handwriting. Having them write letters could help them improve it.We need to teach our kids to write letters, too. Today’s generation of children has only ever communicated electronically. Encouraging them to take the time to write a note to their grandparents to say thank you for a gift offers a tangible lesson in gratitude.

It’ll also help them appreciate t

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Mike R
Mike R6 months ago

Thanks

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Ramesh B
Ramesh B6 months ago

Thanks

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