Mixing things up a little for this edition of Thankful Thursdays.
Usually in my Thankful Thursday posts I focus on stories and people that exemplify appreciation, kindness or those making a difference. I’m taking a slightly different tack this month, in part to support of my 52 Letters challenge and partly in support of incowrimo. (More about that in a moment.)
It’s no secret what a big fan I am of handwriting and the handwritten note – especially the thank you kind. Handwritten letters say you care in a way that an email or a text cannot. They are easily saved and can be savored time and time again by your recipient — no matter what carrier they have, nor whether the electricity is working. This prompted me to think about focusing a Thankful Thursdays edition to wonderful stories and a book that all have to do with the written word and hand writing.
I hope you enjoy it and are inspired so much that you put pen-to-paper yourself!
On February first, I stumbled across so many references of #incowrimo; it was on every social media platform. Even One Note Stationers (whom I featured here on The Appreciation Factor in the past was talking about it.) I felt as if I was one of the last to know about this month-long “celebration” about writing letters. If you’re not in the know, the month of February is International Correspondence Writing Month or incowrimo.
While I couldn’t find the exact origins on incowrimo.org, the goal is to write and mail/deliver one letter, card, note, or postcard every day during the month of February. They aren’t
picky particular about whether it’s handwritten or not, but that’s a parameter I’m adding.
Check out their pledge:
I, [insert your name], clearly see the benefits of InCoWriMo participation, not only to me personally, but also
to those who will receive my correspondence. InCoWriMo is a beneficial endeavor and worthy of my full attention.
I hereby pledge to hand-write and mail/deliver one letter, card, note or postcard every day during the month of February.
The organization even has a “sign-in” page where you can add your name (via a pin on a map) as a participant. (I found other pins in my town!) The whole things is sponsored by Franklin-Christoph fountain pens. I also love that you can add your name to a list to receive letters from other incowrimo participants, or you can write to those that they feature in their periodic blog posts.
It’s NOT too late to join in, you’ll just have to write a few extra letters up front. And if you check out my next featured story, you’ll have all the prompts you need for success.
One of the reasons I’ve been successful at my 52 Letter Challenge and with incowrimo is because of this lovely lady, Jessica Goodall of Goodall Creative. Every day on Instagram Jessica posts great prompts to help get you started with your letter/note of the day. She has truly been a driving force for me to get a few extra letters out. Jessica’s prompts are wonderful and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to come up with each day. Each is inspiring, but they have also conjured up many wonderful memories from my past that I’ve then shared. In fact, one led me to write to my BFF from HS whom I hadn’t spoken to in about 5 years!
Here are three prompts she’s shared that stood out for me: (Note each is featured using the graphic to the left.)
1. From 2/3 “Tell someone about your favorite childhood book and what it meant to you”
2. From 2/11 “Tell someone how thoughtful their seemingly small gesture felt.”
3. From 2/13 “Write a love letter to a stranger (and leave it somewhere to be found by a passerby)”
I especially love the last one as it hearkens to one of my other favorite subjects, Random Acts of Kindness.
In addition to the daily prompts, Jessica is also featuring excerpts from an 1911 publication of The New Standard Business and Social Letter Writing on Instagram.
I hope you’ll check out her GoodallCreative Instagram account when you have a moment. She’s truly a gem in the correspondence world. Plus I enjoyed her Letters to Loved Ones post on handwritten letters so much, it lead me to start following her on Instagram.
This next story from the Washington Post and was sent to me my dear friend Kay. She’s been an avid and loyal follower of The Appreciation Factor since day one, and often shares articles and ides she thinks might inspire a blog posts. I’m so grateful to her for her support and she was right, I had to share this one.
Weary of the Internet, I Went Back to Mail – 108 Letters later. Here’s What I Learned is the narrative of Tim Johnson, a 70-year-old, former newspaper reporter from Vermont.
After reading hundreds of old letters his family had accumulated over decades, he found a “tactile connection with the writers…that’s missing from [today’s] electronic correspondence.” Reading these letters also made him realize that he had stopped sending as many handwritten letters, and it had once been his favorite form of communication.
The story covers a 3-1/2 month exercise of writing to 108 people, some of which he hadn’t communicated with in as many as 50 years. It wasn’t just willy nilly, Johnson did set up ground rules. He kept news of his family to a minimum, avoided politics on the whole, and every letter had to be substantially different. All in all he wrote to college classmates, former colleagues, landlords, cousins, professors, old neighbors, a couple of old girlfriends, and even some people that he barely knew, but wished he’d known better. The only other caveat, he did not expect a reply from any of them.
Johnson did achieve 37% response rate, and one of the most notable was from the daughter of the centenarian he written to. She shared, “you cheered up an old man and his family.” All in all, he found that while it was far more taxing to send a handwritten letter, the rewards out far weighed the challenge.
I applaud you Tim Johnson for taking on such a heady task and for your appreciation of the handwritten note/letter. May you continue to hand write your correspondence, albeit at a slower pace!
Hope you’ll read the article as it shares more details about his observations and the commentary on some of the letters is quite entertaining.
The Art of the Handwritten Note
This last is a book I came across recently, The Art of the Handwritten Note by Margaret Shepherd.
It’s a genuine “how to” for writing notes for every occasion, whether it be love, gratitude, condolences, or another. You’ll feel less daunted after picking it up!
What struck me and why I had to share it here was her love of handwriting. In one passage she notes, “Writing by hand makes you look good on paper and feel good inside. Even an ordinary handwritten note is better than the best e-mail.”
A kindred soul, Shepherd also notes the virtues of the handwritten note over a call or email, “…it doesn’t arrive demanding to be read just when you sat down to dinner… You’ll never get a busy signal… [nor] play “note tag” just to get read.” She really has a way with words don’t you think?
An added bonus, her bio mentions that she speaks each year at MIT’s “charm school” each year about the importance of gracious communication. I’m going to have to see I can meet her in person!
I hope you enjoyed this “handwritten” edition of Thankful Thursdays. For those who love to put pen to paper, I hope I’ve provided some additional resources to inspire you when you craft your next letter. For those who’ve eschewed handwriting over email or calls, perhaps you’ll take a moment to send a letter instead. It will be well received, and more importantly as all of these sources have agreed, the handwritten note shows you care on a deeper level.