5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Letter Writing

Guest post by Jasmine June Cabanaw

In today’s digital world, receiving a handwritten letter in the mail is a special treat. It’s interesting to think that only a couple of decades ago letter writing was one of the primary ways people communicated with one another!

Yet the art of letter writing is not dead. In fact, people have such a desire to send and receive letters that there are numerous companies catering to just that! You can sign up to receive letters, be paired with a pen pal, or volunteer to write and send letters to people in need.

If you’d like to rekindle your love of letter writing, here are five interesting facts to get you motivated:

There are writing prompts specifically designed for letter writing.

Writing a letter may seem easy, but oftentimes people are at a loss for what to say. People know they want to communicate something, but because writing a letter is so different from the way we communicate via email and social media, trying to put a conversation onto a page can be challenging.

Enter writing prompts for letter writing! Books like the newly released Write Back Soon! Adventures in Letter Writing by Karen Benke gently help the writer along as they compose their letters. Writing prompts exist for all lengths of letters— from post card sized notes to lengthy memoirs.

Letter Writing is a great way to hone your writing skills.

A neat writing exercise for character development is to write a letter from your character’s point of view. You can have characters in your story write to one another, or have characters write to someone in your life. By writing a letter as your character, you can really get into the character’s headspace and develop thoughts and emotions you didn’t even realize your character could possess.

Letter writing also improves your writing skills by expanding your vocabulary, through the use of descriptive words, and by providing a space for you to express your thoughts on paper. Many authors promote the art of letter writing as a way to improve writing skills, including Albert Flynn DeSilver, who makes an appearance in Write Back Soon!

Handwriting a letter provides numerous health benefits.

A handwritten letter is a tool for easing stress. Handwriting decreases stress levels by helping you organize your thoughts, putting you in a meditative or calming state, and engaging your motor skills. It’s great as a cognitive exercise, too, and will sharpen your memory.

Writing letters also takes your eyes off the screen— so many of us have our eyes fixed to a computer, television, or mobile screen throughout the day. Writing on paper instead of typing on screen gives your eyes a much needed break!

Your personality shows in your handwriting.

It’s not just the message that makes a letter personal— your handwriting is an expression of your personality, too. Research from the National Pen Company revealed that more than 5,000 traits are linked to how we write!

There are deep, personal reasons why we dot our i’s a certain way, or how we cross our t’s. Everything from how far apart you space your letters to how large you make your exclamation marks is linked to your personality. Your handwriting even reflects your mood, state of health, and how tired you are when you’re writing!

The term “pen pal” made its first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1931

The Oxford English Dictionary first included “pen pal” in 1931, truly marking an increasingly globalized world. Pen pals originally referred to people who corresponded with one another over vast differences, often as a way to learn about different cultures, languages, and countries, and as a way to improve literacy.

Since pen pals exist all over the world and in numerous nationalities, it is difficult to determine the exact origin of pen pals. However, the concept of pen pals became popular in the early 1900s. The term “pen pal” actually had a predecessor, “pen friend”, which first entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1919.

#WriteBackSoon We’d love to hear from you! Do you have a favorite letter, a letter writing prompt, or a fact about letter writing that you’d like to share? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter and use #WriteBackSoon so we’ll know to respond!

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