Handwriting letters is an unparalleled experience

Image by wildorange55 via Flickr

Sandeep Varry | Contributing Writer


I was four or five, when I first learned about the postage system in India. While I had no idea how to comprehend this arrival of my first letter, I was beyond excited to get something that was sent to “me.”

It was my cousin who had already learned to write a letter and, as any normal cousin would do, he decided that he would send me a classic “How are you? I am good. How are your parents? My parents are good. How is your school? My school is good…” letter.  I could not wait to show it to my friends, and immediately asked my dad to buy me a postcard to respond.

Around the time I was entering high school, I spent over two hours at an Internet café to open my first yahoo email account and then sent an email to my friend, who was sitting right beside me. It was a fascinating and futuristic experience. There was no looking back after that. Today, my phone beeps on an average 5 to 10 times an hour with notifications.

I cannot say for sure if it was my love for old times or my love for calligraphy that got me back to using a pen and paper to communicate. But what started out as a way to impress quickly turned into a habit. Yes, it sure does feel good to say “Yeah, I still send handwritten letters,” but it comes nowhere close to the feeling you get when you see an envelope in your mailbox.

While I cannot make the same claim as the organic food advocates when they say that going back to old farming techniques has health benefits (which I do believe), I can sure tell you that going back to letter writing definitely has some mental and character benefits.

Handwritten letters not only require you to sharpen spelling, they also require you to get back to writing in general.  Unlike doodling or taking notes in class, you actually do want the reader to love your presentation of words and serifs.

Apart from that, some of the best benefits of letter writing include building strong attributes such as discipline and patience. When you have an option of writing a letter, you might notice that it is more of a ritual than mere act. Apart from being careful due to lack of a backspace, you are also investing some real effort in packing those clusters of words, which automatically conveys your effort and interest in reaching out to the other person.

There is this indescribable satisfaction once you finish a letter, seal it, write the address, fix a stamp and drop it in the mailbox, that you seldom receive when you hit the send button on your computer.

It is not just your personal life that can hugely benefit from this practice but also, sometimes, your professional life. I have heard personal accounts of people saying how sending a handwritten letter of thanks, after job interviews, surely leaves a lasting impression.

Be it reading print newspapers or preferring a hard copy of book to an eBook, there is something sacred in being old school. The same way a filter on Instagram will never come close to developing a negative film from an old Kodak camera, sending a bundle of electronically-generated words will never match the ones you gave shape to with your own fingers.

More than anything, letter writing is one of those priceless gifts to mankind that should not be allowed to be lost in the shadows of the past. So next time, when you think about reaching out to a friend, reach out for a pen. As your letters starts taking shape, you will realize that you have tapped into some so sensual and natural —the art of communication by handwritten word. 

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