February is International Correspondence Writing Month
For some reason, I’m often the one who remembers a celebration either the day after or in the last hours of the day. Not so much major holidays (in my calendar), but things like Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Pastrami Week, birthdays, and the like.
But I was only a little bit late to discover that February is International Correspondence Writing Month, a.k.a. InCoWriMo. I read about this month on February 1st, which is pretty early or me. It helps that the event is an entire month.
“InCoWriMo challenges you to hand-write and mail/deliver one letter, card, note or postcard every day during the month of February,” according to the website. These are supposed to be hand-written communications – no e-anything. The declared month actually began as a challenge started by Fountain Pen Geeks. (Check out their site and see how you might win a free, new fountain pen. Hint: You have to send a hand-written note to enter.)
But more than one organization is promoting letter writing.
Lettermo also encourages people to write one letter per day, but only the 23 days the United States Post Office is open, so you are excused weekends and national holidays (in the U.S., anyway).
On Lettermo.com, novelist Mary Robinette Kowal makes some good points about the difference between email (and other instant communications) and letter writing.
First, email is all about the now. Right now. (The typical e-message has a half-life of under 24 hours.)
Letter writing, in contrast, assumes it will be days or a week before your letter gets read, so what you write needs to be still relevant a week from now, not just today.
This requires at least a minimum of thought, not just an instant-tweet about the day’s news or the crisis du jour (not to criticize a well-thought out, well-crafted tweet).
Also, letter readers usually read mail at least twice: when you get the letter, and when you sit down to write back. That’s at least once more than many emails, Facebook
posts, IM messages, and the like. I rarely throw letters away, especially the hand-written ones. They last for many years.
There are several other groups promoting handwritten communications with sites worth visiting.
The League of Extraordinary Penpals
Are you a letter-writing superhero? The League of Extraordinary Penpals is a grandly named site that puts you in contact with other letter writers through their monthly newsletter, available by subscription.
Letter Writers Alliance
The Letter Writers Alliance is a venerable institution by web standards, having been around since 2007. The LWA promotes hand-written correspondence, has a newsletter, and even has a few free downloads for stationary and more. For $5, you even get a small, fabric LWA badge among other benefits. They do show a photo of people trying out (gasp!) typewriters, so they appear to encourage other traditional writing forms, too.
10 Reasons for Letter Writing
There are many reasons to sit down with pen and paper to write a letter:
- To practice your penmanship
- To save the post office and the jobs of its workers
- A written letter is a special treat, to the writer and the reader
- You can enjoy fine pens and paper (or ignore them)
- You can get pen pals and life pals
- Letter writing is a tradition worth continuing
- Technologically, letter writing is easy and safe (no computers, keyboards, software to install, no virii, very few spammers)
- writing by hand has a low ecological footprint
- The result is hand delivered to your home or business, much more noticeable than a ding sound on your computer or iPad
- The result shares the joy of communicating
More info and more links are on the European Paper website.
If you’re like me (or worse) and you learn about this too late to catch up to one note per day, just start preparing yourself for April, which is National Card and Letter Writing Month in the US.
But the truth is, you don’t need a celebration to write a note, a Thank You, or to practice your penmanship – any day will do.
If you don’t write because you’re embarrassed by your handwriting, I feel your pain. I started doing something about my scribbles over a year ago. Here’s how to do it.
Do you write letters by hand? Are you up to the InCoWriMo challenge?
“Boy Scouts at Hunter’s Island. Writing to the folks at home” photographer unlisted, Copyright 1912 by Underwood & Underwood. Courtesy of the U.S. Copyright Office, via Library of Congress Online Catalog.
“A willing letter writer” 1733 Japanese print by Masanobu Okumura (1686-1764),
Courtesy Library of Congress Online Catalog.
“Encre L. Marquet” (L. Marquet Ink), 1892 poster by Eugène Grasset (1841-1917). Originally printed by Paris, Nouveles Affiches Artistiques Malherbe. Copy located at the Library of Congress. Source of scan unknown.
“Adams County, North Dakota. North Dakota stock farmer, George P. Moeller, writing a letter at the kitchen table” 1942 photograph by John Vachon (1914-1975). Courtesy of the U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC