The Art of Letter Writing in a digital age

With most of the employees at the library where I work suddenly working from home last year, one of our administrators began hosting a bi-monthly “Kindness in Crisis” Zoom meeting. Staff were invited to come and share topics that they were passionate about. This enabled opportunities for more meaningful connections with our colleagues when we were physically separated.

As most of my writing during the quarantine consisted of letters, and as it is such a beautiful way for people who are separated to connect, I presented on the art of letter writing. Below I share my slides with my talking points.

This is a presentation I created for our "Practicing Kindness in Crisis" series at work.


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Overview of Topics

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How to Find Pen Pals: Reconnect with family, friends - Postable (screenshot of Postable Address Book.

Handwritten letters provide not just communication, but an opportunity for real connection.


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Why Write Letters - image of USPS logo.

Plus, our postal service is in peril, help support these vital front-line workers, buy stamps, send letters.


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What to write: Date and greeting; introduction; about self/ pepper with questions, what do you know about them?, If from site, check profile; Closing - word cloud of different hobbies and interests.

If you are writing to a new pen pal, you can engage by writing about your interests, then asking about theirs.


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How to Find Pen Pals: Reconnect with family, friends - Postable (screenshot of Postable Address Book.

Postable is a site where you can not only send cards, but also its a free online address book.


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How to find pen pals: Online letter writing groups / challenges - LetterMo (www.lettermo.com), InCoWriMo (incowrimo.org). Images - banner from LetterMo.com and banner from InCoWriMo 2020 Facebook group page.

There are several challenges, such as LetterMo – where the goal is to mail something each day the post runs in February. That’s how I got started.


How to find pen pals: Online postcard writing groups / challenges - postcrossing (www.postcrossing.com); image of PostCrossing website, image of 5 postcards from various cities.

There are also sites that match you with folks for exchanges, like postcard swaps.


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Beyond the Word: Stationery

A handwritten letter, unlike electric correspondence, is more than just the words on the page. You get to customize it in so many ways, such as stationery.


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Beyond the Word: Cards / post cards

Blank cards come in many sizes and designs.


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Beyond the Word: Pens / typewriter / etc.

How you put the words to page can be as interesting as what you say. Whether you’re a fountain pen aficionado, or prefer a simple ball-point, your writing implement gives others a sense of who you are.


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Beyond the Word: Stamps

Stamps, along with ink or markers, can personalize mass-produced cards, envelopes, or even dress up plain old notebook paper.


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Beyond the Word: Postage Stamps

Of course, don’t forget that postage stamps come in many styles, as well. Domestic or international, most stamps sold now-a-days are “forever” stamps, and will be good even after any future rate changes.


Beyond the Word: Washi tape

Paper washi tape is easy to apply and remove, and makes an excellent accent and, given current circumstances, can be used to seal envelopes, rather than licking the adhesive.


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Beyond the Word: Inserts

Your letter doesn’t have to be the only thing in envelope – share pictures, recipes, tea, seeds for gardens, or whatever you can fit.


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Express Yourself: Language

What language you use, whether you are formal or more casual, allows you to express yourself – no two people talk alike.


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Express Yourself: Interests

Share what you are passionate about, it will come through in your words.


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Express Yourself: Inserts

What you choose to include, from washi tape samples, to art you’ve made also tells a bit more about you.


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Express Yourself: Letter / Envelope Art

And the letter doesn’t end when you seal the envelope. Stickers, stamps, washi tape, etc. can be used to jazz up the envelope – or you can make your own out of sturdy paper.


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Letter / Envelope Art - Image of various decorative paper, Image of a variety of stickers, image of "do-dads," including buttons, cutouts, blank recipe card, worn playing card, among others.

Stickers, interesting paper, stencils, stamps, and do-dads can all be used (or even repurposed) to decorate or make cards or envelopes, or even art to include inside.


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Letter / Envelope Art - images of hand decorated cards, and a poem made of phrase stickers on the back of a mass-market card.

You don’t have to have someone specific in mind when you make a unique card, but if you do know them, you can certainly find things that remind you of them.


Hopefully this post has given you some ideas, and raises your excitement for February and the official start of LetterMo. There is no wrong way to write a letter, so play around and figure out what feels most authentic to you. And maybe share what you love about letter writing, and help this beautiful form of communication to continue to thrive. pace


Resources

There are many, many, many resources on the Internet (like with all things.) Many organizations for letter writers to connect, to meet folks, and to talk about what is most important/ valuable to them in letter writing.


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Flynn, large orange tabby, laying on a half-written letter, with a folded paper fan between his paws
Flynn loves to help with letter writing.

5 thoughts on “The Art of Letter Writing in a digital age”

  1. Hi Diana,

    Please feel free to use the ideas contained within. If you do use any of the pictures, I would appreciate credit (I’m using a CC BY NC license).

    If you’d like to chat further about what you’d like to use and/ or get original files, feel free to email me. weylyn42(at)hotmail(dot)com.

    I’d love to hear your ideas for the students 🙂
    -Christy

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