Christy Shorey

The Art of Letter Writing

I had the opportunity to present on the art of letter writing. During the quarantine this is how I’m doing most of my writing. Here are the slides, with my talking points in the captions.

This is a presentation I created for our "Practicing Kindness in Crisis" series at work.
This is a presentation I created for our “Practicing Kindness in Crisis” series at work.

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Overview of Topics
Why Write Letters: A letter is the most basic—yet the most flexible—mode of correspondence, regardless of its subject matter. Scribendi; To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.  Phyllis Theroux; Or don’t you like to write letters? I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something. Ernest Hemingway; Letters are something from you. It’s a different kind of intention than writing an e-mail. Keanu Reeves; To write is human, to receive a letter: Devine! Susan Lendroth

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How to Find Pen Pals: Reconnect with family, friends - Postable (screenshot of Postable Address Book.
Handwritten letters provide not just communication, but an opportunity for real connection.

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Why Write Letters - image of USPS logo.
Plus, our post office is in peril, help support these vital front-line workers, buy stamps, send letters.

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What to write: Date and greeting; introduction; about self/ pepper with questions, what do you know about them?, If from site, check profile; Closing - word cloud of different hobbies and interests.
If you are writing to a new pen pal, you can engage by writing about your interests, then asking about theirs.

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How to Find Pen Pals: Reconnect with family, friends - Postable (screenshot of Postable Address Book.
Postable is a site where you can not only send cards, but also its a free online address book.

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How to find pen pals: Online letter writing groups / challenges - LetterMo (www.lettermo.com), InCoWriMo (incowrimo.org). Images - banner from LetterMo.com and banner from InCoWriMo 2020 Facebook group page.
There are several challenges, such as LetterMo – where the goal is to mail something each day the post runs in February. That’s how I got started.

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How to find pen pals: Online postcard writing groups / challenges - postcrossing (www.postcrossing.com); image of PostCrossing website, image of 5 postcards from various cities.
There are also sites that match you with folks for exchanges, like postcard swaps.

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Beyond the word: Stationary - image of various stationary sets.
A handwritten letter, unlike electric correspondence, is more than just the words on the page. You get to customize it in so many ways, such as stationary.

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Beyond the word: Cards / post cards. Image of various cards.
Blank cards come in many sizes and designs.

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Beyond the Word - Pens / typewriter / etc. Image of a feather quill, three fountain pens, bottles of ink, neon colored ball-point pens, and multicolored sharpie fine point pens.
How you put the words to page can be as interesting as what you say. Whether you’re a fountain pen aficionado, or prefer a simple ball-point, your writing implement gives others a sense of who you are.

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Beyond the Word: Stamps - image of rubber stamps, in pads and markers.
Stamps, along with ink or markers, can personalize mass-produced cards, envelopes, or even dress up plain old notebook paper.

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Beyond the Word: Postage Stamps - image of a variety of postage stamp designs.
Of course, don’t forget that postage stamps come in many styles, as well. Domestic or international, most stamps sold now-a-days are “forever” stamps, and will be good even after any future rate changes.

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Beyond the Word: Washi tape - image of 3 dozen rolls of washi tape and a sheet of washi tape.
Paper washi tape is easy to apply and remove, and makes an excellent accent and, given current circumstances, can be used to seal envelopes, rather than licking the adhesive.

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Beyond the Word: Inserts - image of two bags of tea, a recipe card, a quote card, photos of pets, and a gift card wrapped with washi tape.
Your letter doesn’t have to be the only thing in envelope – share pictures, recipes, tea, seeds for gardens, or whatever you can fit.

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Express yourself: Language; Dear, Hello, Greetings, Nice to meet you, My dear, Hi; Kind regards, Warm regards, Sincerely, Best wishes, With love, Write when you have the chance.
What language you use, whether you are formal or more casual, allows you to express yourself – no two people talk alike.

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Express yourself: Interests: word bubble with different hobbies.
Share what you are passionate about, it will come through in your words.

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Beyond the Word: Inserts - image of two bags of tea, a recipe card, a quote card, photos of pets, travel photos, and a gift card wrapped with washi tape.
What you choose to include, from washi tape samples, to art you’ve made also tells a bit more about you.

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Express yourself: Letter / Envelope Art; image of an envelope with washi tape, stickers, and drawn on flowers.
And the letter doesn’t end when you seal the envelope. Stickers, stamps, washi tape, etc. can be used to jazz up the envelope – or you can make your own out of sturdy paper.

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Letter / Envelope Art - Image of various decorative paper, Image of a variety of stickers, image of "do-dads," including buttons, cutouts, blank recipe card, worn playing card, among others.
Stickers, interesting paper, stencils, stamps, and do-dads can all be used (or even repurposed) to decorate or make cards or envelopes, or even art to include inside.

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Letter / Envelope Art - images of hand decorated cards, and a poem made of phrase stickers on the back of a mass-market card.
You don’t have to have someone specific in mind when you make a unique card, but if you do know them, you can certainly find things that remind you of them.

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Resources: Address Book: Postable, www.postable.com; Online writing challenges: LetterMo, lettermo.com; InCoWriMo, https://incowrimo.org; Write on, www.writeoncampaign.com; Postcrossing, www.postcrossing.com; "Mail art" makes a comeback during quarantine: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mail-art-from-quarantine; Other Resources: Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society, http://thehandwrittenletterappreciationsociety.org; Victorian Letter Writers Guild, http://victorianletterwritersguild.blogspot.com/; International Postcard Week; National Postcard week; Pals Over 50, https://www.womenoverfiftynetwork.com/pen-pals-women-over-fifty/ Supplies: Papyrus Stationary (online only) Postable will create/ send cards Michael’s JoAnn’s Repurpose Project Office Supply stores
There are many, many, many resources on the Internet (like with all things.) Many organizations for letter writers to connect, to meet folks, and to talk about what is most important/ valuable to them in letter writing.

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Image of letters, envelopes spread across a table; link - www.postable.com/christyshorey
If you’d like to receive a card, add your address to my Postable account, and include “blog” at the end of your address, so I know how you got there. Except for website captures, and the USPS logo, all images in this presentation are of my own creation.
Flynn, large orange tabby, laying on a half-written letter, with a folded paper fan between his paws
Flynn loves to help with letter writing.

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