Day 6 — The reply

By now some of you may be starting to receive mail from other participants. I want to remind you that the second part of the Challenge is to reply to everything you receive. In many ways a reply is iStock_000007440129Mediumeasier than writing first, but I want to address a couple of points that will make life easier for your recipient.

  1. Make sure your return address is clear. It’s how I know who to write back to.
  2. Include your first and last name somewhere on the letter or envelope.
  3. Refer to the date of the letter you received.

Let me explain more about that last. Because postal mail is time-delayed, it’s like a little capsule containing a moment of the past. In old letters you’ll often see them start off with, “Thank you for your letter of 3 February…” After doing the Month of Letters Challenge last year, I realized why that is so important. It tells the recipient when they last wrote to you, which makes it ever so much easier to know which things you’ve already talked about and what is new.

Also look for any questions that you’ve been asked and repeat it back, at least in a paraphrased form. “You asked about puppetry…” Then answer the question. Partially, this serves as a transition, but it also helps them remember what they asked.

Make sure you ask a question as well, just as you would in a regular conversation.

12 thoughts on “Day 6 — The reply”

  1. So far the only day that I did not receive any letters was last Monday. But for today I did receive some letters which is a good sign. If everything goes well I have written 17 letters so far in February 2013!

  2. As far as replies, I follow the “1st in, 1st out” rule. When I receive a letter, I make a note of the date rec’d, It gives me an idea of how long mail will take going back and forth. In between replies, I send out notes/letters to new folks as well. Sometimes our mails cross paths in the mail.

  3. Good tips.

    So far I’ve only received a postcard from a person here & I wrote a letter in reply. I’m hoping to get some letters soon. This is my 1st time doing the challenge & so far it has been fun.

  4. I just want to point out that if you make copies of everything you send out, you can easily re-read what you wrote, in order to have the full context for what the letter you receive is replying to…

    1. True, but you cannot rely on your recipient to do so.

      I should also say that I started off by making copies, then stopped. Mileage will vary immensely but, for me personally, I liked the conscious act of memory that it required to remember what we had been talking about. It makes me feel more connected for some reason.

      1. If the exchange I’m in seems to be a rich one, with possibility for a deep friendship, I suggest to my correspondent that they make copies, too. So far, they’ve been thrilled by the idea. Once upon a time, people always wrote rough drafts of their letters before copying them out in a “nice hand,” so having copies to refer to is a time-honored custom. But to each her own, of course… =smile=

  5. I’m so glad about that last part, that’s a really good idea, to mention the date. I will definitely start doing that! I never copy my own letters, partially because I just don’t want the penpalling to turn into me basically needen a degree in how to keep an archive, but also because I don’t want to have to go back and read through what I’ve said. I do warn every new pen pal (often several times, I assume), that I might be repeating myself and make it clear that this is not due to lack of interest but because I just have really bad memory. I repeat myself all the time in conversations IRL too, I just keep forgetting stuff.

  6. Thanks! I will start referring to the date of the letter I received from now on, too.
    Great suggestion especially since I correspond a lot with my people overseas 🙂

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