The lost art of letter writing.

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Recently I’ve been thinking about the lost art of handwritten letter. I’ve always enjoyed taking the time to write a handwritten note or two. Earlier today I was taking a look through some files and found a bunch of letters friends wrote to me – before email ever existed! Back in the 80’s and early 90’s there was still such a thing as snail mail! And being a bit of a world traveller I got to know people all over the world. It was humbling to take a look back through a box of cards and letters and think back on memorable moments with each writer.

I still value taking the time to write handwritten letters to people if I can. I send cards to each of my clients to thank them for working with me. A few weeks ago I attending a fantastic training event. The learning was so impactful that I felt it was only right to send each trainer a note of appreciation. One of them told me that he had never received a handwritten note from a client before and how it has created a lasting positive memory.

How often do we slow down and make the effort to write a handwritten letter? Typing on a keyboard is so easy. Handwriting requires flexing different muscles – not only those in the hand but also in the head. I love picking out cards for people – yes I’m one of those people who spends ages in card shops making sure I pick an appropriate image for the recipient.

You have to be fairly certain about what you’re going to write in the card…or stock up on tippex/white out fluid! It requires thought rather than the convenience of a text or email. In case you haven’t guessed – I’m a stationary junkie too. I have writing implements of choice aka pens! I love a good fountain pen or rollerball – preferably with blue ink. The paper filled with the ink of your own pen is your very own – it’s not an Arial or Times New Roman font!

Increasingly I’m finding the need to incorporate more writing into my life. While I’ve tried putting my To Do list online….I just can’t. I still have to handwrite out my To Do List daily, weekly and monthly! Somehow it seems more real when I do! And I love to draft initial ceremony plans in ink too. I also keep a handwritten journal of ideas. When I attend training courses while others write their notes on a computer, I prefer to write mine in a notebook and then type them up afterwards to share with my colleagues. It takes more time but the messages seem to ‘stick’ in my mind that way.

Letters are historical artifacts! We save them. They will be passed down the generations after you’re gone. I still have the letters my Mum and Grannie-Mum wrote to me while I was living overseas – still in their red and blue airmail envelopes. Now that they’re both gone, these letters are more important than ever. They form part of their legacy. Each letter is precious.

There is such joy in getting a handwritten letter in the post besides a bill! I get so excited when an handwritten letter arrives. There is nothing like peeling open the envelope and seeing what gift it offers. It’s like Christmas Day all over again! Increasingly our mail services are under threat. In fact I have friends in some countries where you’ll be lucky if the letter actually arrives. Last year I sent Christmas cards to friends in Mexico and they arrived 5 months later! How I wish I could easily write a letter to them more often and know that it would arrive before my next phone call.

Last year I worked with a wonderful couple whose entire relationship had been based around writing love letters to each other. Their wedding incorporated the theme of love letters. Aesthetic touches such as vintage typewriters, table plans and the order of service in the form of a letter transported guests through their unique love story. Their vows were written in the form of letters to each other which were then placed in a hand carved vow box. I loved these highly personal touches which showed this gorgeous couple at their best and helped guests rediscover the lost art of the letter through their words.

Given the opportunity, who would you write a letter to today and why?