The art of letter writing

August 22, 2012

I was reading a fantastic article over the weekend in Good magazine, called ‘Beginner’s Guide to Letter Writing’. I’ve always been a fan of a hand-written note, with a personally addressed envelope; they’re so exciting to receive and I always get a kick out of sending them, because you know it’s fun for the recipient to get something in the mail that’s not just junk or a bill.

Sadly though, with the advent of electronic mail (which is FANTASTIC in so many respects) and rising postage costs, the art of the old-fashioned, snail mailed letter is dying. We think it’s time for a resurrection – here’s why….

Firstly, letters can be so pretty. There’s a range of gorgeous papers available, beautiful inky pens in as many colours as you can imagine, and stickers or crafty additions galore. Someone’s handwriting gives clues into their personality that we can’t get over the internet and can even sometimes provide insight into their mood.

Secondly, it takes time and communicates that you care about the person you are sending the letter too. This is especially true nowadays, when the easier, quicker, cost-free alternatives are at the end of our fingertips. A hand-written letter illustrates that you value the recipient highly enough to take the time, pay for a stamp and walk it to the post box.

Lastly, some fairly incredible things happen when you put pen to paper… This simple act makes us seem smarter and more thoughtful, as the pen provides a deeper connection to your thoughts than is offered by a keyboard. According to America poet laurete, Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books, “Writing a word out, letter by letter, is a more self conscious process and one more likely to inspire further revisions and elaborations of that thought.” The reality is, you can’t rush it so much, as you can when typing and, in line with that, are not liable to lose the nuance and richness that is put aside in haste.

As if you still need some further convincing, consider the fact that handwriting engages more sections of the brain than typing. A University of Washington study in 2010 found that primary school age students write more words and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard.

Letter writing is an ancient art, but there aren’t any hard and fast rules to doing it right (that’s right – the envelope and notepaper don’t have to match!)… So, pull out a pen and consider who you would like to send some hand-written love to, today.