LetterMo calendar

[Guest Post] Month of Letters Planning Calendar

Today’s guest blogger is LetterMo Community Member Elizabeth Janes, who is a big ol’ F&SF nerd. She needs to spend more time drawing, making jewelry and garden art, and cleaning house. She lives in upstate New York, mere minutes from the Massachusetts border.

I was lucky enough to stumble across Mary’s Month of Letters challenge in time to allow me to participate from the get-go. I look forward to the challenge every year, and though the LetterMo experience hasn’t yet transformed me into a model correspondent I do send more cards and letters throughout the year now than I did before. Thanks for the inspiration, Mary!

I’ve chosen to concentrate on writing to people within my small circle of friends, rather than signing up to find new pen pals; it’s way too easy for me to spend hours writing letters while neglecting waiting tasks of greater importance. But even given my short MoL address book, since my life isn’t what you’d call brimful of excitement (“utterly devoid of incident” probably wouldn’t be accurate, but it wouldn’t be that far off the mark, either) I usually wind up writing about the same things to more than one person. And I usually have a hard time remembering what I’ve written to whom.

To help me keep track, I’ve taken the idea of the LetterMo planning calendar and turned it into a record-keeping calendar. In the blank days at either end of the month I list the people I want to be sure to write to, with a box for checking off each person when their first piece of mail goes out. (I love boxes for checking.)

After I finish writing a card or letter, in the calendar’s day on which that item is sent I make brief notes on subjects covered, along with (because I can be somewhat obsessive) coded reminders on the type of mail: C for card, P for postcard, L for Letter, E for decorated envelope, A for a no-envelope sealed-with-wax Jane-Austen-style letter.

LetterMo calendar

On the back of the page there are lines for recording mail sent to people I don’t know (fan mail, constituent mail to elected representatives, praise or complaints to companies with which I’ve had good or bad experiences), and for keeping track of mail received. Because I’ve found that I’m apt to forget what the postcard rate is several times a month, and to help in making use of my small-denomination stamps, this year I tacked on a line of rate reminders.

By the end of the month the calendar is a scribbly mess, but it’s fun to be able to look back at mailings from previous years and remember writing about my runaway ink-sample-buying habit (curse/bless you, Goulet Pen Company!), or the day I locked both house and car keys inside the car with the engine running. (That provided subject matter for a six-postcard serial mailed over sequential days. I did write them all on a single day, but made sure to write and mail at least one additional piece each day to keep to the terms of the challenge.)

Sadly, my brief notes aren’t guaranteed to connect me to detailed memories. “Kirk/Spock never stuck next to loud talker or had to take selfies with Khan” probably made some kind of demented sense a year ago, but it’s a bafflement today.

Click here to download the 2016 planning calendar (PDF), which is invitingly empty. Print it out and have fun filling the days!

22 thoughts on “[Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?”

  1. Having been a letter writer for several years now, I don’t particularly find this challenge all that difficult, other than remembering to do it every day instead of when the whim takes me to write. And since I may not have a penpal’s letter to answer, then I need to think outside my normal circle of penpals and write to others. I saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with a few old penpals that had lapsed, family members that live outside of the city, friends I haven’t seen in a while, and strangers or persons of stature. I think it’s a great challenge and maybe it will even boost the joy of those who process all this mail and deliver it to us. 🙂

  2. I love your post. And I totally agree.

    Email, tweets n twitters, FB comments all have their place and moment in time where they are the appropriate way to respond.

    However, sending a letter, postcard, or notecard is the only way to connect with someone on a more personal, even intimate, level.

    The act of sending a missive does take time, but more importantly it takes thought. What paper will I use? What will I add (stickers, washi, etc.)? What will I say? Combined these choices will be a bright spot in someone’s day. Added bonus? It was created specifically for them.

  3. Great article on postcard apps but you should also take a look at Postsnap’s easy to use postcard app.
    The app offers a number of unique features compared to the other apps reviewed including:
    – Guest checkout with Apple Pay
    – Extensive personalization options including collage layouts, stylish borders which can be adjusted in size with a slider and the option to add editable text in a variety of font types and colors and position it anywhere on the cards
    – iPhone and iPad support
    – Apple Pencil support
    – Facebook and Instagram integration
    – US postal address verification and UK postcode lookup
    Cards are printed and posted in our facilities in the UK, USA and Australia on the same or next working day and so cards typically arrive quickly. Enjoy!
    Stephen Homer

  4. I have been writing letters for several years now. My go to paper is Rhodia Premium or Rhodia Ice pads. I also Life pads too. I like them because they are not quite as slick as the Rhodia.

  5. I too love journals to pull apart for writing. For me the most important aspect of the paper is the pattern. I love to have some colour and some design on the paper. I’ve managed to find a number of nice colours and designs at one of my local “Home Sense” discount stores in the book section. Most of the small journals are a perfect size to fit in the envelopes I use. If not I just give one edge a bit of a trim (but sometimes I really like the ripped edge look too!) ;P

  6. Hi, Christmas cards & more recently a letter (a bill) from the UK to Australia have taken 3 weeks to arrive. The exterior of these envelopes were stamped with a mark such as this from the latest envelope:
    DLC 992-4
    The example quoted arrived at the Australian address on 28/07/2017, unfortunately it contained a bill dated 06/07/2017 which had to be paid within 14 days, by 20/07/2017.
    Why is the post so slow? What does the DLC 992-4 stamp signify? Would appreciate your feedback.

  7. My letter that I wrote was in September. The person who it was for still hasn’t gotten it and it’s now November….
    I don’t understand why it’s taking this long. I live in AZ and he lives in NY. I want answers.

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