Spring break has sprung… Ought to write some letters.


Well… It’s Saturday. It’s the first day of Spring Break. I’d like to say that means my productivity will go way up and I’ll blog every day and write a few “extra” posts to have around for those days I don’t feel like working on this thing. I somehow doubt I’ll go all blog ninja on the thing this week, but I did want to consider letters.

Letters are cool...

Letter writing is really the precursor to blogging for me… In other words, I meant to write letters regularly but let other things distract me from that effort. Writing letters has always been kind of a romantic notion to me. Not like the “romantic” boy meets girl and woos her from across the miles with elegantly written letters ala Norman McLean . It’s more of a notion that I want to take a few minutes to communicate with another person viscerally… taking the time to write down whatever is on my mind and then send it in a medium that expresses the care that went into the communication itself.

The interesting thing to me is that it isn’t even simply about the communication. It is about the artistry of the the hand written letter. Of all of the things I treasure, some of the most important are the things that someone took the time to write and send or deliver in some way. Notes, letters, cards… all carry, for me, a specialness that I can not ascribe to an e-mail or Facebook message. While the electronic counterparts are special for their words, the other, the pen to paper versions are worthy of being kept in special places to be held, reviewed, turned over and felt.

As I was thinking about how important letters have been to me, I was also thinking about a TED talk I was watching the other day. The talk was given by a guy named Matt Cutts and he’s talking about trying something new for 30 days. In his talk he mentions the potential to write a novel (or at least enough words to comprise a novel) in 30 days. That started me thinking about how it would probably also be possible to write a letter each day for 30 days… and then see what happens. Honestly, I’m already procrastinating on this one. It’s going to be a lot of work and I already committed to a 30 day challenge in April (I imagine there will be more to come about that so stay tuned). So I’m thinking about making May a month for writing letters.  Here is my strategy (I am only sharing it in case someone reading this would like to join me.)

For $20 dollars I was able to procure a set of linen paper and matching envelopes. I am fond of Uniball Signio 207 pens and I set aside 30 stamps.  Total for materials $35.

The hardest thing about this whole project is going to be to decide who to write to. My solution: Print the names of the people I know have current addresses in my address book and draw one each day. I have 227 contacts in my address book for whom I believe I have correct contact information.

I am setting aside 45 minutes each day to write. If I finish early, great. If I do not finish in 45 minutes I am making myself finish before I go to bed. No excuses. Not finished? no sleep!. (That’s Cutts idea).

In the comments section I’d invite you to share your thoughts on letters. Also, if you think you might like to take the 30 day letter writing challenge, let me know. Maybe I’d even write to you.

Cheers!

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5 thoughts on “Spring break has sprung… Ought to write some letters.

  1. Ooh, I have thoughts on letters. One is an echo of my Mother’s voice saying, “You know, what you really should do…”. Letters make me think of my great-aunts and my mother-in-law.. Sorry, I promise to not think of you as one of my great aunts, or my mother-in-law. I may not be able to avoid the blog ninja image (do you wear black, and no one ever sees you type until it’s too late?). Every time I take the aunts something (little things, a dozen eggs, some honeycomb, whatever) they send me a little card to say thanks, even if they had the chance to say thanks in person. They’re kind of a formal bunch (well pair, now). Neal’s mom writes to everyone and, at least to some extent, his sisters (and sisters-in-law, I’m a rebel, I guess) have picked up the habit as well. You’re right, they are more special than e-mails, even though rarely does anything of importance get said. The choice of paper and the handwriting offers a personal impression of the writer that e-mail can not. I generally also prefer books to e-readers though, so it may just be a paper fetish.

    • Thank you cards are an art form all unto themselves and I really appreciate the folks who take the time to do thoughtful things like that. I patron at least two business solely on the fact that a couple times a year I get an actual handwritten thank you note from them for my business… It’s a little thing that makes a huge difference.

      There is nothing wrong wit a paper fetish, by the way… I can totally relate.

  2. I remember when I dreams of writing letters and changing the world. When I was young I thought I would be known across the world as the ” letter kid.” That dream was promptly smashed when I found I that my handwriting wasn’t legible enough for the post office to read my addressed envelopes.

    I do like the idea of writing letters. It’s always exciting to get something in the mail that it for you. I would love to share that excitement with others. I think I will take the challenge in the future when I have a bit more time to spare.

    By the way, I am quite glad you mentioned that TED talk. I am going to try a less time consuming thirty day challenge though I am unsure of what to do. I know that in November I will be writing my own novel =)

    • The Novel in November idea is a great one. April for me is all about riding my bike every day. It’s the thing I decided to spend my extra time doing. http://www.30daysofbiking.com has details.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It made me remember my grandmother. I had to have my mom read letters from her aloud due to her “elegant” handwriting. Let me know what challenges you undertake I’d be interested to know and to encourage. Although, I did see a TED talk by Derek Sivers http://goo.gl/AmW6M that talks bout the science of keeping your goals to yourself. Thanks again. I have been enjoying your blog. I’ll get over there to comment soon.

      • I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my blog. The TED talk on the science of not declaring your goals is also quite interesting. This certainly explains why new years resolutions fail so quickly.

        Given much thought I believe I will take my own spin on a thirty day random acts of kindness challenge. Everyday of the challenge one must thank someone for an action often unappreciated and one must compliment one person as well (They can be the same person). After listening to the orginial TED talk this seems rather timid, so one must also do the same through the internet as well.

        This is the challenge I plan to undertake starting tomorrow. I also plan to record these experiences and construct a poem of sorts from them after the challenge. With the talk of Derek fresh in mind, I must recongnize that this won’t be easy. I start classes again tomorrow which coupled with my already hectic schedule means I will need to be diligent about this. I’ll certainly let you know how it goes, as I hope you share your challenge.

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