Seven Reasons to Reclaim the Lost Art of Letter Writing
When dropped in the mailbox, it's the surprise, excitement, and gratitude that comes from receiving a handwritten letter that's absolutely immeasurable. Today, however, you might say that letter writing has become nothing more than a lost art. With technology at our fingertips, any love letter, thank-you note, or birthday card can be condensed down to a short text or email.
But a handwritten letter can convey what technology simply can't—from the choice of paper to the type of card, the color ink of the pen to the postage used on the envelope, and even the beauty of each letter coming together to form a word on the page, writing a letter is an incredibly personal experience. And whether you're the writer or the reader, a handwritten note sent in the mail can help articulate feelings you never knew you had. For these reasons and more, we make the case for reviving the tradition of letter writing. They're sure to make you pick up some beautiful stationery, a swanky pen, and practice that cursive once and for all.
Handwritten letters are personal.
"In a digital world, where it can take five seconds to send an email or WhatsApp, there is something incredibly human and personal about getting a handwritten letter or card," says Robert Van Den Bergh, director at Scribeless. "A hand-addressed envelope with a real stamp and luxury note inside is very tactile. One of the oldest forms of communication, handwriting is innately human."
Handwriting is a stress reliever.
"The experience of writing a handwritten letter has been shown to relieve stress and is a really calming process," notes Van Den Bergh. With so much time spent working and staring at screens, it's important to find outlets that allow us to let go. Much like exercise and meditation, writing offers the opportunity to exercise different parts of our physical and mental states.
It's an opportunity for creativity and self-expression.
"Similar to calligraphy, everyone has their own handwriting style and although some are more beautiful than others, there is something very experiential about getting a letter, card or note," explains Van Den Bergh. It's also an opportunity to embrace right-brain thinking, allowing your creativity to influence how you write, what you write, how you read, and how you interpret the words.
Handwritten letters provide you the gift of time.
In our fast-paced world, we could all use an opportunity to slow down. Whether writing a handwritten letter or reading one, you take your eyes off the screen and engage your eyes and brain in a new way that requires attention and thoughtfulness. "A handwritten card, letter or postcard is significantly more engaging than an email or message," says Van Den Bergh. "Scientifically, you spend much more time reading a handwritten note because you cannot skim it in the same way you can a font on a screen."
You can build relationships and further connect with people.
There's an element of deeper connection when sharing a handwritten letter. The choice to write it, the time it takes, and the message inside create a shared experience that is intimate and meaningful. Despite the digital world offering us the opportunity to connect with people we otherwise couldn't—such as in the form of video chats, and social media apps like Facebook and Instagram—studies show that almost half of us feel lonely and isolated.
They have more value than a digital letter.
Unlike a text or email, handwritten letters offer both physical and emotional value that doesn't go unnoticed by the receiver. You can hold a letter in your hands, smell it, display it, share it, and store it. And because they're often unexpected or occasional, they're associated with delight. "Most people believe that handwritten letters are a nostalgic communication method, which is primarily used by older generations," adds Van Den Bergh. "However, we have found that younger people actually engage with handwritten letters more and we believe that this is because it is something that younger people mostly receive when at Christmas and on birthdays. They therefore associate it with receiving a gift, subconsciously giving it more value."
Letters are historical artifacts.
How many emails do you get a day? How many texts do you send and receive? And how many do you delete or allow to get buried beneath piles of new messages, never to be seen again? Handwritten letters have a type of meaning that don't allow you to simply click "delete." A tangible paper copy lives in real life, begging you to hold onto it, reread it for years to come, and paint a picture with every word. The letter and the thoughts stand still in time—to hold onto what life was like all that time ago.