When is the last time you sent a note in the mail? There’s a good chance you sent out holiday cards, but do you keep stationery on hand to drop some sunshine in a friend or loved one’s mailbox?
There’s a good chance that like me, you grew up in an age where notes were EVERYTHING. In third grade, you opened notes and checked boxes that determined the fate of your relationship with a boy in your class. As you grew older, you calculated routes around the school so you could pass notes back and forth to friends discussing how cute Seth looked in that new plaid shirt or what your plans were after school. You liked the notebooks that had paper with perforated edges so your notes could be cleanly folded and not subject to the fringe that ran alongside the spiral bound notebooks.
While the act of writing the note was therapeutic, there was also something about the thrill of passing a note. Would the teacher catch you or would it fall into the wrong hands? Could you imagine your mortification if the entire class learned that you had a crush on the new kid, Jimmy? What if Sarah’s mom found out about how you spent the night prank calling random numbers?
Just as the white postal service trucks replaced the Pony Express, our primary means of communication have also evolved over the past few decades. Emails, posts to Facebook walls, text messages and even Snapchats have replaced those lined 8.5” x 11”, 3-hole punched sheets, providing a faster and more secure means of getting our messages through to the desired recipient. But what have we lost in that evolution?
Here are just a few benefits I’ve found from handwriting notes:
It requires me to focus and think critically about what I want to say. If I’m sending a small post card or notecard, I don’t have a lot of space to write. I have to carefully select the words so they’ll not only fit on the paper, but also convey the message I’m trying to relate.
It’s an opportunity for creative expression. From swirly fonts to flowery doodles, one of my favorite things to do when sending a note or package is to make the address line (and inside if I have extra time on my hands) fun to read. And I’m not the only one, Pinterest has a ton of fun ideas like these for decorating the outside of a card. And stamps! Don’t get me started: the USPS has been killing it recently with their options.
My message becomes more impactful when shared through a handwritten note. When people are inundated with electronic messages, a handwritten note will stand out to the recipient.
It’s timeless. That box of high school notes your mom still keeps for you in the attic? That’s right. I still keep a note my 8th grade volleyball coach sent me offering encouragement during a tough time. It’s a message that will always be there if and when they need it.
It’s something I can do without my phone. I do everything from paying bills, creating endless lists, snapping photos of my kids, keeping up with friends to finding dinner recipes – all with my phone. When I need to put it down, letter writing offers the perfect excuse.
Admittedly, I don’t write a ton of letters. I wish I wrote more of them. But it’s important. And it’s easy. And it makes people happy. So why not write more notes?
“Or don’t you like to write letters? I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.” – Ernest Hemingway