The Lost Art of Letter Writing and What I've Learned Through Incowrimo
As anyone who knows me knows, I am an unashamed stationery lover. I'm also a course junkie and the two go hand in hand. Each time I embark on new learning I 'need' a new swag of stationery. I was even delighted on a cold, rainy day, when my twin nieces were happy to lose time in Paperchase amongst the rainbow-coloured paper and array of pens.
I'm currently trying to develop a writing habit, both for blogging and for my dream of writing a book. I've tried a non-fiction version of 'Nanowrimo' where you write a first draft in a month. It helps to zoom through a word count, but I found the pace exhausting, and it put me off writing to be honest.
I came across 'Incowrimo' on Instagram recently and it seemed perfect for what I wanted. It stands for 'International Correspondence Writing Month' and thank goodness it's in February so 28 days seemed doable for my wandering mind. My legendary great-uncle who died last year aged 98 used to write us kiddos the most loving and uplifting letters. They were such a joy to receive, in his red ballpoint pen and swirly handwriting. Always proud of us for our achievements or wishing us well with our journeys. There's something so tactile and so precious about receiving a letter that someone's taken time to write and post. In this instant age, it feels like it's something's being lost.
I didn't want to run out of steam with Incowrimo. In the month planner of my diary, I start adding a name in each box as someone came to mind. I thought of people that might appreciate receiving a letter, or people that I wanted to thank for something they'd done for me sometime. This morning I wrote to thank a wonderful person for the care they showed me 9 years ago.
The simplicity of crossing a name off in my diary each day has helped to build my confidence that I can complete things, and that I can be focussed. It's a small thing to do but in my own way I feel like I am making a difference to the people in my life.
It's now day 15 of Incowrimo and there are so many things that I have learned that I would like to share with you:
- Writing by hand connects the heart to the hand. It's so different from typing and looking at a screen. It's so much more direct.
- Writing letters helps to instantly awaken feelings of love, gratitude and joy. Such an easy way to make yourself feel better! I struggle with the cold and dark at this time of year, so it's really helped my mood and energy levels.
- This is a great exercise in mindfulness. You can make a quiet ritual of writing, adding any treats such as a pot of herbal tea or wafting essential oils in the background.
- The receiver of the letter gets your love and gratitude in a way that touches them deeply. I've never been one for showing love by buying stuff, but it's been interesting to see how many different types of people still receive the love.
By a lovely coincidence I was posted back a note I wrote to myself on retreat last year- it felt special to have it at the half-way point on Incowrimo, just when thoughts of going off-course have been bubbling.
It's day 15 now- if this post has sparked your interest you could start it today. By the end of the month you would know that you've touched hearts and spread joy. In these wacky times, I strongly believe that every act of intention, kindness and love spreads far and wide.