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11 Reasons to write a Letter by hand

In an age where swiping right on Tinder is seen as a romantic gesture, it’s safe to say that technology has completely revolutionised the way we communicate, particularly when it comes to expressing our feelings. Indeed, although 94% of adults think that writing by hand is important, on average we handwrite letters about twice a year.

Skype, email and text are really effective ways of connecting people across the globe but they don't quite convey the warmth and emotion of a handwritten letter. As it's National Stationery Week - a week for celebrating the written word - here's 11 reasons why you should write a letter immediately - BY HAND.

It’s Romantic

Hamlet and Ophelia. John Keats and Fanny Bawn. Noah and Allie. All the greatest love stories are cemented with a love letter, proving there’s nothing more romantic than professing your passion on paper. A letter says "I love you enough to take the time to show it the hard way" so if you've broken a few bridges with someone, make things up the old fashion way with a romantic love letter.

It’s a great way to express yourself

When writing a letter there’s no hiding behind emojis and cryptic text speak to mask your true feelings. Writing forces you to think about how you really feel, encouraging you to let all your emotions out in the open.

It’s good for you

And when you do let it all out in the open, you’ll feel really good about yourself! Science has linked expressive writing to a better mood, reduced stress and an improved sense of wellbeing.

And it’s good for other people too

What would've happened to Harry if he didn’t receive his letter from Hogwarts?! He’d probably still be living in a cupboard under the stairs, working your average 9-5 office admin job, horribly unaware that he’s one of the greatest wizards of all time. After all we know what happened when Juliet's letter didn't reach Romeo - their relationship literally ended in tragedy! Handwritten letters are a great, authentic way to inform someone of good news and at the very least provide a nice change from only having bills to open.


But Seriously, they do make a difference

Okay, both instances above aren't real life but letters really can make a difference in the world. Many not-for-profit organisations encourage friendship through letter writing, such as Humanwrites, a charity that encourages letter writing to prison inmates. There are also several world wide pen pal schemes that connect people all over the globe, allowing you to exchange stories, advice and words of wisdom with people you wouldn't otherwise interact with. This is especially good for children who want to improve their language skills and learn about other cultures.


Letters Are Powerful

Epistolary history is full of powerful, open letters that have changed the course of history or influenced the world in some way. Martin Luther King’s Letters From Birmingham Jail became one of the most beautiful, defining texts of the Civil Rights Movement when they were smuggled out of his cell and printed in national newspapers. Nelson Mandela’s letters also helped shape a new South Africa - keeping his voice present in politics when he was isolated from the world during his 27 years in prison.

Letters are Preserved

Unlike texts, letters can't be deleted. Their personal nature means they're far more likely to be valued and held on to, making them timeless, keepsake preservations of memory.  The earliest letters thought to be sent were diplomatic letters between the Pharos of Egypt and neighbouring states in 14 BC.  Since then, letters have been passed down and preserved through centuries, allowing us to discover and understand some of the world's most important events in history through a personal lens. For example, letters constitute a large part of the historiography on World War 1, during which time The British Army Postal Service delivered around 2 billion letters.

Letter written by Wilfred Sassoon to his uncle Letter written by Wilfred Sassoon to his uncle in 1917, depicting life in the tenches. Img via British library


And can Boost your Literary Reputation

Writing letters many seems insignificant now but in 50 years time they'll provide a fascinating insight into a time gone by and might even make their way onto the bookshelves.  Indeed, some of the most interesting works of literature are anthologies composed solely of letters/diary entries written by famous people, from philosophers and authors like Voltaire and Dickens to missionary travellers like David Livingstone. However you don't have to be famous for your letters to get published. Letters of Note is a blog (and book) dedicated to showcasing everyday correspondence that captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that make up all of our lives.


Letters inspire Creativity

Taking a pen to paper utilises motor and cognitive brain processes differently to when using technology. Handwriting, by nature of being more labour intensive than typing, forces us to slow down and think, connecting our brains to our hands.  It also allows us to explore ideas using shapes, phrases and diagrams more so than we would on a standardised computer word document, all of which is conducive to inspiring creativity.


You'll get a response

There's something far more exciting about receiving a letter compared to a text, especially if it's a response from someone you idolise. Iggy Pop's empathetic response to a young fan suffering from depression stole the hearts of the internet when it was published in Letters of Note. However, several famous children's authors are also known to respond to their fans. J.K Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and David Walliams are among the ranks of responders - Walliams even urged his young fans to write to him again after a batch of fanmail was stolen from him last year.



We could all do with a little off-screen time

Of course you could type of very personal letter on a computer and most of these points would still stand. However there's something so pleasurable about the tangible experience of writing by hand. When putting a pen to paper there's no risk of being distracted by the Internet and, given that on average we spend about 9 hours per day in front of a screen, we could all benefit from a little more off-screen time.

It's Fun!

Writing letters give you the chance to practice your handwriting, develop a snazzy signature and invest in beautiful stamps and stationery. After all, why send a plain old paper inside a plain old envelope when you could doodle, colour and decorate your letters as you would any other art work? There are loads of great letter-making kits on the market that inspire your imagination, making the process of letter writing so much fun!

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