Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Overcoming 5 Obstacles to Handwritten Notes

I love writing letters and notes. And I find every excuse not to do it.

I used to have numerous pen pals. In my teenage years. Before the days of email and 4 kids. Before the days of blogs and ridiculously expensive postage.

(BHG trivia-I met my BFF through pen-pal-manship. Ironically enough, we lived less than 3 miles from each other, and we carried on quite the correspondence for many years.)

I'd write epistles that were pages and pages long. I'd rattle on about life events and my random thoughts. I post my notes and then pop out to the mailbox on a daily (hourly) basis.

"Did I get any mail?"

I know that question used to drive my mom nuts. Now it semi annoys me when my kids ask. Because they get a piece of mail like every two months. But they ask every day.

And, see, that anticipation is what is being lost in these days of instant messaging and emails. The exhilaration of getting your very own piece of mail. The bummed out feeling when it is junk and bills-and none of it even belongs to you.

The letters I received would get read over and over again-before and after writing my reply. The words of friends would make me laugh and would encourage me and challenge me time and again.

The only time of year that remotely approaches the former weekly excitement of a personal letter, is Christmas time. With its Amazon packages plus other random packages tied up with string.

Ironically enough, I made write a note or letter every week a New Year's Resolution for 2013. A definitely unladylike snort should be inserted here to show how well I have done with that resolution. At least I did my triathlon...

Hand written notes are becoming a lost art, but what could induce us to pick up and wield our literal pen more frequently? If we enjoy receiving notes so much, why not apply the golden rule here and send out some love?

I think the primary obstacles to me writing notes are lack of time, ascetics, said it all before, messy handwriting and cost. Here some answers to those problems.

Ascetics. By this I mean, of course I could write a letter on college ruled paper ripped from my son's spelling notebook with a Bic pen. But...

How about using pretty stationary, notecards and pens instead?

cross pens (source)

classy stationary, half sheets, pearl (here)

personalized note cards (here)
While I've showed gorgeous stationary, notecards and pens from online that are rather expensive, it is possible to purchase nice stationary, pens and cards from your local office supply or book store. You can get quality for decent prices at places like Office Max or Kinkos.

Having the proper and beautiful tools takes note writing up a notch. It makes it a labor of love and a work of art. Save your letter writing supplies for letter writing. Don't use you beautiful stationary for grocery lists or your Cross pens for tic-tac-toe. Keep them special and keep them in a special place. Add a basket to hold it all.
Lack of Time. Between schooling, cleaning, parenting, blogging, cooking and life, when is it possible to find time to write a letter?

If you are thinking of needing hours long segments of time, it may well be impossible in your stage of life.

But, have you ever noticed how much you can actually accomplish in 15-30 minutes if you set your mind to it. And, we can all borrow 15 minutes from somewhere-at least once a week. From our twitter and FB scans, if nothing else.

So, set your timer for 15 minutes and write someone a note. Someone you love. Someone far from home. Someone who needs words of encouragement.

I've said it all before. With the surge of social media and blogging in my life, when I sit down to write someone a letter, I feel like they have probably already heard it all before. They have seen my pictures and heard my news and views.

Except, the majority of my IRL friends are not people that I interact with on social media. They don't read my blog or follow my FB page or twitter feed. So, it really isn't old hat to personally share my life with them in a personal letter.

And, if there happens to be overlap, well then, so be it.

I like to write newsy letters about my life and my kids and what is happening in my neck of the woods. My letters actually read a lot like this blog. Only there is a personal, one on one connection of shared history and memories.

Poor penmanship. Some people's handwriting stinks. You know who you are. It is barely legible to say nothing of beautiful. But, like everything else, practice does help.

Modern Mrs. Darcy recommends Fix It Write. There are loose leaf work sheets with exercises designed to improve your handwriting.

You could always take things up a notch and learn calligraphy (here). I dabbled in calligraphy when I was a teen. I haven't had pens and ink for years, and could use a buffing up of my skills. Calligraphy will definitely make your handwriting stand out. Though, personally, I'd reserve it for the envelopes or rather shorter notes. Just saying.

Cost. When I started mailing letters, a stamp cost 25 cents. Those were the days. What's the price of a postage stamp now? 49 cents? I can't keep track. Maybe it is only 47. Regardless, it seems a bit ridiculous.

I have always had my kids write letter weekly during the school year, but often I'd never mail them because it was too expensive. This year I decided I am going to embrace that expense.

Because, really, even for an overseas letter, it still only costs about $1.50. And on what other frivolous purchases do I manage to spend much more than $1.50 on a regular basis? Know what I mean?

Well, there's our obstacles addressed. Who are you going to write a note to this week?