Letters in February Self Improvement

Stamp it Up

Writing a letter a day for a month? Let's try!

Toady at the grocery store, I purchased a book of stamps. Not for bills or birthday cards, but for a challenge: a challenge to mail something every day for the month of February. I hope you can take the challenge too.

I love writing letters and sending little items to people just as much as I like receiving them. I feel like the recipient should know I put more time and effort and thought into the letter, because I certainly think that when I receive one.

Today, I get a lot of e-mail, Facebook messages and tweets, but those are quick thoughts, updates for everyone and mostly contain something that I need to do for someone. What about the books i’ve picked up “just because” for some of my friends? What about the pictures I hold on to for others? What about the words that just seem to insensitive when sent via text message?

When I came across this post, I knew the challenge was for me:

It comes from Lettermo.com.

Last September, I took a month off from the internet. During my vacation, I told people that they could correspond with me by paper letter. Some people did. Some people still are. Every letter delights me.

When I write back, I find that I slow down and write differently than I do with an email. Email is all about the now. Letters are different, because whatever I write needs to be something that will be relevant a week later to the person to whom I am writing. In some ways it forces me to think about time more because postal mail is slower. “By the time you get this…” It is relaxing. It is intimate. It is both lasting and ephemeral.

How so? I find that I will often read the letters that I receive twice. Once when I get them and again as I write back. So, that makes it more lasting. It is more ephemeral because I don’t have copies of the letters that I write and I am the only one who has copies of the letters that my correspondents write. So, more ephemeral.

When was the last time you got a letter in the mail? December sees a lot of mail and you remember that sense of delight when the first card arrives. You can have that more often.

I have a simple challenge for you.

  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

All you are committing to is to mail 24 items. Why 24? There are four Sundays and one US holiday. In fact, you might send more than 24 items. You might develop a correspondence that extends beyond the month. You might enjoy going to the mail box again.

Feeling intimidated? It’s fewer words than NaNoWriMo and I know how many of you do that. Join me in The Month of Letters Challenge.

Sincerely yours,

Mary Robinette Kowal

You have a couple of days. Get your pens and paper, stamps and envelopes ready and we’ll do this together. Let’s reconnect through the handwritten word.