fountain pen paper · letter writing · mail · snail mail

Learning to Love Letter Writing

There are those among us who would love to sit down and write a letter, who understand the value it will have to the recipient and want to do that for friends or family or even strangers..  But you just think it sounds like a chore, and you can’t imagine sitting down, staying still, and actually writing anything longer than a post card.

This post is for you.

A year ago I didn’t know I liked writing letters, and certainly not by hand.  I only started gathering friends’ addresses and finding pen pals around the world because I was desperate for a meaningful way to spend my spare time and I needed it to be relatively inexpensive, something I could do from home while alone, and something that didn’t take up a lot of space… that meant crafting was out and I don’t enjoy a lot of other common pass times which all seem expensive to get started in anyway.. so letter writing it was to be, I grimly determined.

But then came the time to sit down and actually write.  I turned off all the noise around me to focused on my task.  I decided to hand write to make it take longer (since I was passing time) and make it more personal for my friend getting it.  I was also just starting to like using fountain pens and this was a great chance to get to glide my silky nib across the rink of paper.

As I started writing, I was focusing very hard on my composition and hand writing, all while holding my recipient in my mind.  I had no outside distractions and was doing no other task at the same time like I’d normally be doing.  It was the first time in ages I was Mindful; it was the first time in ages I had peace and quiet in my brain, because writing by hand, where there is no Delete key, takes so much of my focus that there’s no room for anything else, so I am Present as I write.

As I finished letters to friends I found myself less lonely, missing them less.  I found that holding them in my head and having an imaginary conversation that became the letter, to me, felt like I’d spent quality time with them. And in a delayed way, I had.

Would you like to write letters to folks but you can’t imagine getting through the process?

I have some simple tips to get you though the first few letters til you find your comfort space.  Try them, they will help.  Sorry about sending you shopping  But we won’t spend more than   $45 to get you the BEST possible set up for enjoying your writing time… and it’s only important to follow my advise, not to use the products I personally like.

IT SOUNDS OBVIOUS, BUT FIRST YOU MUST HAVE PEN, PAPER, ENVELOPES, STAMPS, AND THE ADDRESS OF YOUR RECIPIENT.  Everything should be pleasant to you, from the feel of the paper on your fingers to the look of the ink.  Even your envelopes can be so darned nice that you’re just dying to fill them and inspired to write.   Have stamps first so you’re letter doesn’t sit for a month waiting for you to pick some up.  All supplies available at http://www.gouletpen.com (and amazon if you swing that way)

YOUR PEN:  This is crucial.  Your pen must be COMFORTABLE in your hand.  It must feel good as you glide it over paper.  You should LIKE your pen and be careful with it, have a relationship with the same pen over a over instead of using disposable ones.  I recommend you try a fountain pen, because they do truly glide…  If you’ve never used them before, there’s disposables called Pilot Varsity that are cheaper than a refillable pen.  If you want to get a big-kid fountain pen, good starters are the Pilot Metropolitan (usually around $15) or a Lamy Safari (Closer to $20-25 but smoother than the Met) Read a little online so you know what else you need, if anything (it depends on what you want for ink).  If you’re going balls out, a good “next” level pen is a Pilot Falcon at about $150 but you must learn how to use a flex or soft nib first, so you don’t bust it… its a SMOOTH ride, that pen, however!  Now I’m about to get a couple of $200 vintage fountains and my friend has paid over 400… so you know that when people fall in love with those pens, we are in DEEP

GET PAPER:  Notebook paper will work, but will you yearn to use it?  If you’re using fountain pens you need F. Pen friendly paper (very popular are Rhodia, Clairefontaine Triomphe, Tomoe River A4 loose sheets).  You’re paper should be easy on your eyes and not glaringly bright.  It should feel good to you.  Perhaps, if you’re NOT using a foutain pen, you’ll get some stationary that you’re going to love and want to show off.  Your paper should be pleasant for you and your recipient to hold and look at.  My favorite is Tomoe River, A4 loose sheets (50 sheets are $15, though, and you can only use one side); both cream and white are easy on the eye.. I have both and select which to use based on the color ink I’m about to lay down, Tomoe is also lovely feeling and clearly a luxury item; you’ll want to show off your sophisticated taste when you spring for a pack of this.

ENVELOPES, BE UNIQUE:  Get something that says YOU, not just a plain old white paper .  I use pink envelopes almost exclusively, so my friends always know IMMEDIATELY that they have a letter from me when they first open the mail box.  These I get on amazon.  The brand I use is called Jam and I get #10 size (legal) because I use  A4 paper, which folds nicely in thirds to fit perfectly in the envelope. The “recycled parchment” envelopes by Jam are fountain pen friendly but only address letters with waterproof ink! (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jam+parchment+envelopes+10&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ajam+parchment+envelopes+10)

STAMPS:  don’t be a chump.  go into the post office where you get the best selection!  Choose something that will look appropriate on your envelope for example, since I use parchment envelopes I PASS on the new Star Trek stamps and get quill hearts or soda fountain.  If you can’t get to the office, go to http://www.usps.com and order them directly (don’t be an Amazon chump for stamps!)

Now, you have GREAT supplies that you’re dying to use, all you have to do is sit and use them!  What to write?

.What would you say if you saw them in person?  You’d greet them, you’d ask how they are and you’d demand their latest news.  That’s a great start to a letter.

From there, just imagine a conversation with your friend, talk about things you have in common or things in your life you know they will be interested in.  You can be fairly steam of copiousness here, you’ll develop a personal style but know as long as you’re writing and Present, you’re doing it RIGHT!  I tell my latest news since our last communication.  I end up talking a lot about my pen collection and inks.  I explain what kind of pen I’m using for the letter and what special style of writing it does, and maybe explain why I selected the ink I did.  I brag about my pens, I’ve come to love them so much, and as a habitual letter writer, you may too.

That’s it!  You’re letter is a greeting, a one sided conversation, a series of questions to your friend asking for their take on the topics you’ve broached (questions encourage replies), and a farewell.  It’s that simple.  You can do it in as little as 10 minutes or you can spend hours and hours, depending how into it you get.

After you experience the Mindfullness of letter writing a few times, you’ll look forward to it.  It will both be a way you relax and a way you feel (and ARE) closer to your friend.

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3 thoughts on “Learning to Love Letter Writing

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