I’m a firm believer in the fact that writing letters is one of the most fascinating and underrated experiences of our time. If you’ve been following along here, you probably know that I love receiving letters. They’re simple, unexpected, and carry a teaspoon of romance in them (unless they’re from the insurance companies or somewhere depressing like that). From one social media addict to another, let me tell you a few simple reasons you should put down your phones, stop the hash tagging, and instead break out your journal and stamps (at least for a few moments).
1. Letters make you really think about what you’re saying. I think one of the greatest dangers of social media is how quickly and easily it is to throw out snide comments or lies without any real consideration of your words. Writing letters forces you to actually write out your thoughts and organize them into your stories, with your own signature at the end. Writing letters allows you to really understand your own thoughts and to have accountability for your words.
2. You don’t have to write some drawn-out, double-sided novel. I send a notebook back and forth to R, one filled with drawings and poems and jokes and more poems. Sometimes sending ideas back and forth is the greatest inspiration you’ll receive all week.
3. For you artsy people out there, you can make your own stationary and envelopes out of maps and old music sheets. Calligraphy, typography, paintings and sketches can make any simple note look incredible. Can you imagine receiving that in the mail?! (I’d probably think I was receiving some magical invitation to Narnia or something).
4. They enhance every kind of relationship. When R went into the Coast Guard and moved a thousand miles away, writing letters was our only means of communication. It was the only thing I had to hold onto when we were apart, and yet I still felt like I was a part of his daily life (see reason #5). Even when he got phone access and we could talk every moment of every day, we still loved writing letters so much. I don’t know how to describe it, but there’s something beautifully unnecessary about using the slowest and most difficult process of communication (besides carrier pigeons and smoke signals) just to tell someone about your day.
5. Pen pals make the best of friends. You’d be surprised what you can learn from someone in the way they write, how they sign their letters, what doodles you find on the corners of their paper, etc. One of my favorite things is reading a letter from a friend and being able to hear their voice as I’m reading, hearing every sassy comment and moment of sadness. I believe letters are the most silent megaphones of our very thoughts and existence. What I write to someone often reflects how I feel about my day, my week, myself, my relationships, and everything in between while reading someone else’s writing gives me a glimpse into their world that I would never be able to have otherwise. Writing to someone can be a sweet emotional release after a stressful day of deadlines.
6. Friends don’t let friends have empty mailboxes. It’s as simple as that.
7. Writing to people you care about is timeless (and it makes you feel sophisticated). There’s a dotted line when it comes to reaching back and reliving the experiences of past generations. What can appear classy and elegant to some, could be corny and outdated to others. But letter writing, while obviously past its prime, is truly a timeless venture. So if you want to write your letters with a feather quill while sitting in a small, candle-lit library and listening to your favorite record, all the power to you.
8. Sending letters often leads to receiving letters, and sometimes, that’s the best part of your day.
9. For those of you with a significant other (or those of you trying to catch someone’s attention), writing letters is so romantic. The fact that you took the time to sit down, carve out your words, find an envelope and that page of stamps you’ve stashed away in a desk drawer somewhere just to share a thought is worth a lot more than you’d imagine. (I mean honestly, the only reason Noah and Alli from The Notebook ended up together is because she found out that he wrote to her every day for a year. Letters are powerful, people.)
10. If letters didn’t exist, Harry Potter might’ve never gotten out of that terrible room under the stairs, Santa would never know what we want for Christmas, and the Tooth Fairy would never know that we’re waiting for the extra change under our pillow.
So go ahead and set down your phones (don’t worry, the withdrawal symptoms won’t take full effect for at least twenty minutes) and write.