This repeats the text of the challenge in graphic form

Welcome to the 2016 Month of Letters Challenge!

This repeats the text of the challenge in graphic formAs we start off the fourth year of LetterMo, let me talk a bit about what I’ve learned about the Challenge.

It’s really not about getting letters, it’s about reaching out. A lot of folks sign up, hoping they’ll get mail. While that does happen, it’s ultimately not the goal of the challenge. The goal is to make a connection. If you get an email back, or a text, or a phone call, or a facebook/tweet/tumblr/thingie, then you’ve made a connection. That’s the important part.

An audience of one.  This month, I want you to slow down and really think about who you are writing to. So many other parts of our lives wind up being a performance because the internet (which I love) is a vast public space. Physical mail is intimate and designated for one person. Think about that person when you write.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. You know in December, when that first card arrives? There’s a moment of joy, because someone thought of you. The card maybe just has their signature, and it doesn’t matter that there’s not a fancy three page letter with perfect penmanship, because they thought about you. When the challenge says that you can send anything, we mean it. You’re mailing tangible proof that you thought about someone. That’s special enough.

It’s like time travel. No really, bear with me for a minute. When I write a letter, Present Me is writing to Future You. When you receive it, Present You is reading something from Past Me. So that means that what you are capturing with your mail is a specific, concrete moment in time. It’s okay to share the small details of that moment. For instance, as I’m writing this, my cat Sadie is curled up on the chair next to me. She’s snoring. I wish you could hear it, because it is adorable.

There is no wrong way. With the challenge a lot of people write to me. A LOT of people. I’ve seen things written in pencil on paper torn out of a notebook, letters typed on the computer and printed, incredibly gorgeous mail art, postcards with three words on them, and once, a pigeon. Every single one of those represents the moment when someone thought about me. I love them all. There’s no wrong way.  (I mean, besides the things that the federal government won’t allow you to mail. So don’t get arrested okay?)

Send mail to people who never get it. It’s tempting to just send to people who will answer you, but think about the folks who never get mail. Which brings me to the final thing, which is kind of weird. I’ll be here all month, writing along with you, but I have a favor. Don’t write to me this year. I know. It’s weird, right? Here’s the thing. I love getting your letters, but Rule 2 means that I have to respond to them. I realized that because of that, I’ve never had the real Month of Letters experience. This year, what I really want is to write to folks that probably aren’t going to write back to me, like my nephew and my aunt and my mentor and my friend with brain cancer and my favorite author and… you get the idea. BUT there a ton of people in the forums who want penpals. I get a lot of letters. Why not share the love and write to someone who doesn’t?

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.

Leave a Reply