Welcome to the first day of Month of Letters 2023. Here are some tips from our members to help you get started.
“Just sit down and think about a different setting when you’re writing to someone. Like…what would you tell that person when you first meet them in a coffee shop? Or what would you share about your surroundings if they were blind? I love to just sit down and sip my coffee while writing whatever comes to my mind.” – Fabi
Here are my tips/tricks to those new to letter writing:
Have a designated space/area that brings you joy when you write.
Store all of your letter writing items, i.e., pens; washi tapes; envelopes; postage stamps; stationery, etc., in a nice storage container that will make you smile; easy to find and easy to keep organized.
I tend to write how I speak, meaning, a long letter, 2 or more pages. I view letter writing as a conversation, with the only difference being that we’re not face to face.
Don’t expect an immediate response and don’t be surprised to not receive one at all. If that should happen, please allow grace and do not send a letter that hints along the lines of, “I wrote you and you didn’t write back.” I wrote someone and they responded a year later. They explained the delay, but for me, the joy was to find a letter in my mail box.
Remember that the purpose in letter writing is to make someone’s day and perhaps yours as well.
Find a place that you enjoy where you can sit and write. A peaceful place, a relaxing place. Mine is my kitchen table or my couch. I also have a writing container that has my pens, my stickers, my stationery and just plain old paper so I just grab it and go to my writing place and it’s ready to go. It also has envelopes and a variety of stamps and seasonal address labels so that everything is there and my letters can be written and addressed and sent easily.
Dateline: February 1st around the world and the start of LetterMo!
Thank you to all who have registered to join our community of letter writers – newbies and long term LetterMoians.
Remember that you need to log in to the members only forums
For the newbies and a refresher for those returning, look for the START HERE thread in the forums
Say hello in the Introduction thread
Remember to write your return address in your letter in case the envelope gets separated from the envelope
Record your new penpal addresses in a separate location other than on the website.
Write back to everyone you receive a letter from.
LetterMo embraces the spirit of letter writing. We encourage you to do your best and what fits with your life – and adjust accordingly when life happens. If you miss a day, write two the next or make your goal for a total number of letters if you’re unable to write everyday. If you can’t get out to the post box or you live in a rural area without regular pickup, adjust your goal for a total number and get your letters out as soon as you are able.
A special thanks to all the volunteer administrators who do so much work behind the scenes – from the website to the Facebook groups – who make this wonderful snail mail project possible.
It’s hard to believe that it is already February tomorrow! Are you ready? Here’s a quick checklist:
Postage stamps – Did you know? You can pick them up in more places than just the post office. Supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores. They may not be the fanciest ones, but at least your letters can be sent out. (Just check on the rates for domestic or international). You can order your stamps online too.
Pens and Ink – while we love a good fountain pen or gel pan, there’s nothing wrong with using a good ol’ ballpoint, even if you, ahem, picked it up from the dentist office (and we love a typewritten letter too).
Stationery – again, it doesn’t have to be fancy! Lined notebook paper or a page from your sketchbook. You can make envelopes (here’s a tutorial, or simply take apart one and trace) and some countries have pre-stamped envelopes.
Postcards – easy to write a short note; some countries have pre-stamped postcards that can be sent anywhere in the world.
Washi and stickers – fun and nice, but not necessary.
The letter writing community is lucky to kickstart the year by having two different programs during the month of February. Why February? It’s the shortest month of the year and often not the best weather, so letter writing is a great way to pass the time while staying cozy indoors.
So what are the two different programs? A Month of Letters, or as we call it LetterMo around here, was started by writer Mary Robinette Kowal who took a month break from the internet. International Correspondence Writing Month or InCoWriMo, is an obvious nod to NaNoWriMo for the inspiration to write every day.
So what are the differences between #LetterMo and #InCoWriMo? See the chart below.
You can see there are various elements of LetterMo that require a team of dedicated volunteers who run things behind the scenes. It is a strong community built over the years that welcomes newcomers each year and shares their knowledge of the program and love of mail.
You may wonder, do people participate in both? There are definitely people who do the crossover as well as write and send out more than one letter a day! If you want to see some of the mail that is sent out, visit our Instagram profile and check out our stories – #LetterMo2023. Tag us if you want to share and we may repost!
With people around the world discovering or rediscovering the joy of the written word received by post, we hope letter writing will no longer be classified as a “lost art” but more of a revival.
If you’re stuck for what to write about, check out the calendar of occasions below!
Let us know in the comments where you can get stamps other than the post office in your country, especially outside of North America or UK.
Are you ready? Come join the fun – sign up today! See you in the forums!
People sometimes ask me, Noony, why should I write letters? After all, there are plenty of alternatives to communicating in everyday life – cell phones, texting, social media, slack, discus, websites… I could go on.
I hear that, I do; but I STILL like to write letters and encourage others to do so. Here are a few reasons:
1. It helps us de-stress. By taking all the mental clutter and influx of daily information and putting it on hold by sitting down with a pen and piece of paper, we are literally allowing our brains to calm down. We can write about one thought until we’re done, then another thought, without interruption and dings from our media. (In fact, put your phone on airplane mode while you’re writing letters so that you don’t get interrupted.)
2. It brings a smile to other peoples’ faces. After all, what do we usually get in the mail? Bills and junk mail, bills and junk mail, and did I mention all the bills and junk mail? I even get mail from a window company that’s already told me they can’t install windows in my type of home. But they STILL send me stuff in the mail! When I get something fun, be it a postcard or an envelope, I get excited.
3. You can make friends without all the pressure that we put on ourselves in day to day life. I’ve met young folx, older folx, folx like me and folx very different from me. I’ve made connections here in my own back yard to clear across the globe. It makes the world smaller and reminds us that we’re all in this together.
4. You can learn about other places and people. This is true whether we are writing in a grammar school class or if we’re retired and just having fun connecting with other human beings.
5. It’s good exercise. It lets us use our fine motor skills in our hands and arms as we form words on the page.
6. It can inspire us to make art, doodle, and create unusual letters for our pen friends.
7. It can serve as a distraction from stressful times. When we’re focused on a challenge like Lettermo, we’re doing something positive. We’re putting that positive energy out into the world. It becomes about connecting, and not about “being right,” or “getting things done,” or any of a hundred other ways we create mental clutter.
8. It can focus our thoughts. When we have to slow down and compose ourselves on paper, we might surprise ourselves. I didn’t realize I thought that, we might think. Or we might realize we very much thought that, and we knew we thought that, and we’re very passionate about that thank you very much.
9. It can be a way to bring solace to others. Sending thank you notes is a lovely habit to get into – and we’re learning more and more about brain science and gratitude, and its uplifting affect on mental health. Writing letters can, quite literally, be good for your brain!
10. And last but not least, I write letters because I enjoy it. And “because I like it” is a perfectly fine reason for doing something.
Welcome, or welcome back, to LetterMo 2023. There is a lot going on here on the Month of Letters site, as well as the related Facebook groups, I thought I’d create a handy Orientation. This is an overview of how you can engage with this site, with links to more information on any given topic.
While some of the features on the LetterMo.com site are open to the public, many of the more interactive features require you to be logged in. These included the forums, participants and downloadable resources. If you are not logged as a participant, selecting these links will direct you back to the main site.
Participants: This page has a few options. One shows you all current members of the LetterMo.com site. One shows you all the folks you’ve created friendships with. The last allows you to search for members, by name, user name, country, or keywords in participants’ bios.
Resources: A few resources, including list of national post services, and mail missions – organizations where you can send letters for specific groups, like deployed military.
Profile: Available once you’ve logged in. The URL will be https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/profile/ You can access it from the top menu bar, or in the upper right hand corner of the page.
Activity – Post an update, view your activity from the site, mentions, favorites, and friends’ activities. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/
Profile – View or edit your profile, change your profile picture or update your status. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/profile/
Notifications – Where you can find friend requests, and other information from the LetterMo.com site. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/notifications/
Friends -A list of your friends, and folks requesting to be your friend. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/friends/
Forums – A summary of your activity on the forums, including topics you started, replies you’ve made, and subscriptions https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/forums
Settings – Update your password, what emails you’d like to recieve, and profile visibility. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/settings/
Contact: Where you can find Month of Letters on the internet, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Hopefully this helps you find your way around the LetterMo website, and as always, if you still have questions, just ask.
John Keats and Fanny Brawne – Letter exchanges in the early 1800’s Movie – Bright Star 2009 Director Jane Campion Writers Jane Campion(screenplay) Andrew Motion (biography “Keats”)
It’s 1818 in Hampstead Village on the outskirts of London. Poet Charles Brown lives in one half of a house, the Dilkes family the other. Through association with the Dilkes, the fatherless Brawne family knows Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown and the Brawne’s eldest daughter, Fanny, don’t like each other. She thinks him arrogant and rude; he feels that she’s a pretentious flirt, knowing only how to sew (admittedly well as she makes all her own fashionable clothes), and voicing opinions on subjects about which she knows nothing. Insecure struggling poet John Keats comes to live with his friend, Mr. Brown. Miss Brawne and Mr. Keats have a mutual attraction to each other, but their relationship is slow to develop, in part, since Mr. Brown does whatever he can to keep the two apart. Other obstacles face the couple, including their eventual overwhelming passion for each other clouding their view of what the other does, Mr. Keats’ struggling career, which offers him little in the way of monetary security (which will lead to Mrs. Brawne not giving consent for them to marry), and health issues which had earlier taken the life of Mr. Keats’ brother, Tom. – Huggo
Declaration by Letter. Its pivotal power defines and strengthens the storyline’s progression and drama. The detail and attention to letter writing is highly appreciated in this film. The arrival and ritual
The envelope and construction
The writing and penmanship
The content and inclusions
The emotional reaction
The reply and response
The underpinning of Bright Star’s screenplay is rich on the transmission of letters, and of course, based on the romantic writings of Keats. More about his writing and correspondence to be found at http://keatslettersproject.com/. There are many other historical, film, book, drama series, shows or movie examples. A great number of fantastic series to binge, too numerous to list, all set in the mid 1800s to early 1900s. In most plots, you will often see something by arriving by post. Lettermo members will pause at those scenes, to appreciate and ogle the paper, pen, ink, fold, style penmanship and addressing detail! (Recently watched the Duchess of Duke Street 1976-77 series and you can count the letters/desks/pens and stationery, from episode to episode!) From events, arrivals, announcements, invitations and important news, everything was predicated by the coming and going of a handwritten Letter. Letters of importance can start or end wars, be a hopeful beginning or a poignant end, both in fiction and real life.
There is a fundamental emphasis on letter writing in Bright Star, and the way it lends power to the storyline and development. Scripts, scenes, props and cinematography shots were created around the arrival, writing, placement and sending of the missives, posts, envelopes!
Mr. Charles Armitage Brown sent a flirty handcrafted Valentine to Fanny. It was in the shape of a suitcase, and when opened, revealed the message:
Darling Valentine, I am not sure you should have a kiss for your amber enchantress eyes or a whipping. – Yours, the Suitcase
Fanny remarked in earlier conversation at the color of Mr Brown’s eyes, “being suitcase brown” (plain). The Valentine was an emotive and forward response for the time period, with a recognition of her wit and banter meant to get under her skin. This Valentine, sealed with a red wax heart, invoked jealousy from John Keats. He was furious that his friend would send a Valentine to his Lady, even though Brown sent it for his own selfish reasons – in order to discredit Fanny’s character as a well-suited match for John Keats. They were 20-somethings in 1819, so the hormones ran high, too! How the sending and receiving of a slip of paper with a written message enraged and affected Keats, further demonstrates the importance of letter writing! It framed the expression of Love between John and Fanny in future scenes, letter excerpts included. His poetic pinings for her can make your heart swell! So young, and so well expressed in written form and poetry, you can imagine if Keats lived beyond 25, how masterful and powerful his creations would have become. #letterlocking #vintagevalentine
Another thing to be noted is how Mr Brown constructed theSuitcase Valentine. Crafted on a diagonal perspective, it opened just like a chest or case; a 19th century 3D Effect! Some time and thought went into it, hand drawn and colored too! Perhaps a mail artist would appreciate its simple but effective design! The attention to small detail in paper, pen, construction and style is appreciated in this century. #mailart
In today’s world, a letter written with attention to its recipient can be just as meaningful and powerful, hopefully without fits of jealousy or fireplace burning! Finding a penpal in the 21st century is rare and therefore more cherished. You can find some of these great humans, the like-minded and letter-laden spirits, here at lettermo.com. Even a few short friendly sentences on a card to a friend or loved one can brighten the spirit, inspire and bring a nostalgic comfort. The investment of the letter writer’s time is the highest value in a Letter! It is a compliment and a recognition of you personally. Your letter is truly a gift, created especially for you. I hope humanity does not lose the beautiful process and the appreciation of a Letter’s value. We need only look to the wonderful writers of the 19th Century: Bronte, Emerson, Whitman and Keats, made masters by what they chose to put down on paper, and send out to the world.
Seek out inspiration from poets, writers, filmmakers like Jane Campion, your fellow Letter enthusiasts and penpals. They can cure writer’s block, or give you an idea about how you want to convey something. It is enriching to read their words, or watch their creations, and allow them to inspire your own letter-writing content and individual style.
Film Timestamp 1:03:23
“When I don’t hear from him, it’s as if I’ve died, as if the air is sucked out from my lungs, and I am left desolate, but when I receive a letter, I know our World is real. It’s the one I care for.” – Fanny Brawne (while clinging to the letter)
Gear up to send yours out to the world for The Month of Letters 2022 LetterMo22 – A whole two centuries after Keats wrote his!! Bonus if you have those nice wax seals! #lettermo #lettermo22 post your images and give the world your time-wise words. (incoherent musings, late replies, bags of tea, and poetic inclusion’s count too!)
Without our hardworking postal carriers, LetterMo could not be the treasure that it is. So while you’re putting today’s outgoing in the mailbox, show your appreciation and drop in an extra note to say “thanks” to those who allow us to connect with each other.
Hooray! Happy LetterMo to the letter writing community around the world.
Join the fun and spirit of letter writing and challenge yourself to write and send a piece of mail for every day the mail runs in your country. Everyone’s situation is different and life happens, especially these past years, so do what you can. Catch up when you need to and however you need to. The spirit if the program is to write more this month, and connect by mail.
Thanks to all the volunteer administrators who run the program – we would not be here without you!
In February, mail one item every day it runs. #lettermo Sign up to find Lettermo Penpals!