Friday, January 07, 2011

5 Have Fun, Do Good Letter Writing Ideas

Watercolor postcard with rubber stamp
I love letters.  I think the decline of personal letter writing is one of saddest casualties of technological expansion.  Emailing and texting may increase the frequency of communication, but nothing can replace the subtle messages, and beauty, of individual handwriting, the color of ink and the weight of paper.

Here are 5 have fun, do good letter writing ideas:

1. Make your own cards!  I love Strathmore's collection of blank cards.  They have all kinds: cards that go in your printer, cards you can paint on with watercolors, photo frame cards, and  "green" cards made of hemp, bamboo and recycled fiber.  You can also re-use old cards by cutting along the fold and reusing the side with the image, if its backside is blank. For inspiration, check out the book Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art, and its corresponding Good Mail Day Flickr group.

Watercolor postcard with collage
2. Write a letter to yourself.  Jennifer Lee has a wonderful post up on the Right Brain Business Plan blog about writing a letter to your future self as part of a creative goal setting ritual.

3. Write letters to people you love.  Writing letters of gratitude to 40 people for 40 days before my 40th birthday was an incredibly moving experience.  Whether you write to tell someone how much you love them, or just to tell them about something funny that happened to you this week, I promise, they'll appreciate it.  You might also want to make a quick list of people who've gone through big transitions (birth, death, moving, break up, job loss), and send them a note of encouragement, especially after the initial outpouring of support has faded.
4. Be a do-good pen pal.  A number of programs facilitate letter writing with people who are sick, lonely, or are in a challenging situation like:
You could also contact a nearby retirement home, or children's hospital and ask if they have a letter-writing program.  I tried to find a domestic prisoner letter-writing program, but all of the websites looked kinda sketchy.  Any recommendations?

Photo from Secret Agent L
5. Write random act of kindness cards

If you read my interview with Secret Agent L, you know that her affiliated agents leave cards with inspiring quotes and small gifts in public places for people to find.  Check out the photos and stories on her blog from various "missions" for inspiration.

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  1. I agree -- write more letters everyone! And Good Mail Day rocks.

  2. I love these ideas! I love writing, and I know I should be writing more. Now I'm thinking of doing 21 letters before my 21st birthday!

    Not sure if this is helpful, but Amnesty International keeps sending me little notes for prisoners that say "You are not forgotten" that you can sign and I think you can add a note if you want. They say it goes directly to prisoners.

    There is also, which helps you find a penpal in a US prison. Of course, that involves some safety precautions, but there are many decent people imprisoned for minor crimes who are very lonely in there.

    I found your blog on Google looking for ones similar to the one I just started. Luckily it's not the exact same idea but I really like it.

  3. Another cool idea to keep letter writing alive is The Things Unsaid Project, found at Love this endeavor and think others in a letter writing frame of mind will find it interesting as well.

  4. Another cool idea to keep letter writing alive is The Things Unsaid Project, found at Love this endeavor and think others in a letter writing frame of mind will find it interesting as well.

  5. I've never heard of The Things Unsaid Project. Thanks, Tina!

  6. Pamela ~ It does rock, doesn't it?

    Amanda ~ That is definitely good to know about Amnesty. Thank you!

    I saw, but couldn't tell if it was a reputable site, or not.

  7. This is a great idea to do to enjoy, be happy and thank everyone! This is a great project to start this year.


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