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The Lost Art of Letter Writing

In this digital age, letter writing has slowly slipped away from us. I remember being a child and writing individual thank you letters with every gift. Thinking back I'm not entirely sure when that stopped. Maybe it was with age, or maybe it was the rise of mobile phones and social networks. Gradually over time, the letters stopped coming, postcards were no longer part of a typical family holiday and sadly the handwritten conversation became a thing of the past.

And then for my 24th birthday, my mum sent me a writing pad with matching envelopes and a pack of first class stamps. Living on the opposite side of the country has its downfalls and the 8-hour journey to my small southern hometown doesn't happen as often anymore. Enclosed the card read "I remember you used to love to write, so I'm sending you this writing set. I love the old fashioned way of keeping in touch, I hope you do too." Reading this it was almost as if I could hear her voice, I pictured her writing, stood in the kitchen. And instantly I knew that the art handwriting letters and sending them off in the hands of others was something that I needed to incorporate back into my life.

After my spurred interest, I started to do some reading online. I saw people's replies from penpals, great big bundles of old letters and photos left by family members. And then I stumbled upon an article by Catherine Field in The New York Times, called The Fading Art of Letter Writing. Beautifully written, Catherine describes the handwritten connection between herself and her mother-in-law.
A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping."
This paragraph explains in its entirety how I feel about letter writing. The personal connection, the time spent handwriting your feelings, opening your mind and soul onto a piece of unsuspecting paper.

Those words frozen in time can mean everything to someone, love letters, the last letters and the ones that remind us of the ones we cherish.

With all of this in mind, I've put together five reasons to start letter writing. If I can inspire one person, inspire one letter then this post has served its purpose.

1. Handwriting takes time. I am not ashamed to admit that I always draft cards and notes. And I am always truly thankful for the time spent. It brings a smile to my face and truly makes my day.

2. Handwriting is personal. It says a lot about your personality, exposes your vulnerabilities and forms a connection with those who read it. 

3. Letters last a lifetime. I have a box of special cards and notes that I couldn't bare to part with. And they will be here long after I am. 

4. Letters are exciting! Nowadays the postman comes bearing bills and spam, think of the excitement a handwritten envelope will bring. Much more than a notification.

5. And finally, think of all the beautiful stationery! I recommend starting with a nice set and then move onto post cards, return envelopes and stickers, the possibilities are endless.

I have personally been using the writing set pictured here. The Art File's Dachshund Letter Set - £5.95. The set includes ten embossed letterheads, ten continuation sheets and ten detailed envelopes.

To those of you that take inspiration from this, please let me know if you write anything either in the comments below or on twitter. It would love to hear about it!

What do you think about writing letters or notes? Is snail mail obsolete to us millennials?

Gem. x

Here are a few writing sets to get you started.


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