HANDWRITTEN LETTERS, A FORGOTTEN PASTIME

Writing is the painting of the voice ~ Voltaire

 

Why Pen & Paper?

Do you remember the excitement, the impatience, as you eagerly awaited a letter from a pen pal or a special friend?  Can you still recall the giddiness when you finally held the envelope in your hands, the pretty postage stamp from perhaps a faraway land?  Or, the crushing disappointment when your letter hasn’t arrived yet?

With the wonders of technology, sadly, handwritten letters are a thing of the past.  Nowadays it’s quicker and more convenient to send a WhatsApp message or jot down a few, quick lines via email.  Are you aware of the delightfully, unexpected benefits of handwritten letters?

The old fashioned will always have a place in our society.  Oftentimes, the old ways are hard, time-consuming and seemingly impossible at times.  A letter written by hand creates a much different set of feelings than a personal email.  To write a letter is in essence to tell a story and to share a part of our lives with someone dear to us. Letters are also a peek into the writer’s personality.

Unexpected Value

Writing to someone, taking the times to create each sentence and paragraph, to buy a stamp, to choose a special envelope, to travel to the post office – none of this goes unnoticed.  A letter, before the contents have been read, already sends a message to the receiver: ‘I care about you’.  ‘You’re someone special.’  That is a message we all enjoy hearing. Letters that are handwritten and sent, all carry a piece of you.

The Visual Experience

The crisp sounds of the unfolding of the pages, the slight indentations where the writer pressed a bit hard with the pen and the smell of the paper all combined, is not only a message but an experience.  Handwritten letters are tangible and it engages our senses in a way that technology cannot.  The receiver can tuck the letter in a book or slide it into a drawer.  They can keep it on a nightstand next to their bed, perhaps to be read more than once.  A letter is a physical reminder of the writer and their thoughts are forever etched onto a physical object. 

A Cut Above The Rest

A letter is eye-catching and oftentimes commands the entire attention of the reader.  It connects readers to the past and conjures images of special friends separated by continents, of past times and half-forgotten adventures.  To make the reading experience extra special, the reader should take a few moments, sit down with a cup of tea and realise that someone deemed them important and special enough. 

Unexpected Benefits

A handwritten letter doesn’t only benefit the receiver.  The act of creating a letter, sitting at a desk, perhaps overlooking a scenic garden and the time to put pen to paper is an exercise in mindfulness.  Simply put, it means that by taking the time to write by hand, you live entirely in the moment and are not distracted by technology, thoughts of the past or worries of tomorrow.  Writing a letter requires you to disconnect from the world for a period of time.  Disconnecting requires a special kind of discipline and like a muscle, it can be built up over time.  Being consciously present, you might be surprised to find that your ability to notice the world around you increases significantly. 

Did You Know?

Studies have found that those who journal about their feelings experience faster healing than those who do not?  Writing is also an exercise in slow, deliberate thought.  When dealing with problems one piece at a time or one word at a time – they don’t seem quite so daunting.  Besides beneficial to emotional well-being, researchers have found that writing by hand actually increases cognitive abilities.  Writing causes the brain to recognise and integrate sensation, movement control and thinking. 

A Gift for Writer & Reader

Handwriting is also a very effective way of remembering.  The reader remembers your message and you, in turn, will not easily forget your own words.  Areas in our brain responsible for assessing new things, being either a threat or useful, are activated.  When this happens, words are indelibly stored in our memories.  The writer retains more of what was written as opposed to typing on a keyboard.  Writers are more likely to summarize and think what they’re writing rather than just mindlessly typing on a keyboard.  Writing by hand has wonderful benefits for both writer and reader.  Whether you want to woo someone special or simply trying to work out your thoughts and feelings with a good friend, handwritten letters can be an unexpected gift for the writer and the reader.

 
If you want to change your world, pick up your pen and write. ~ Martin Luther King

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