The Lost Art of Writing

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Before you throw something at your screen, let me explain.

I’m not talking about the writing that you and I do on a daily…okay, at least weekly basis, the writing that we send out into the world, hoping to make a bit of money. I’m talking about the warm fuzzy writing, the thank you notes, the letters, the sticky-note or maybe even messages-in-a-bottle—writing that reaches out from our hearts to other specific hearts. I’m beginning to think that kind of writing is falling by the wayside of technology and that makes my heart more than a bit sad.

And so as we dash into the last month of the year, maybe you and I can do our part to bring back the lost art of writing. I just happen to have a couple of ideas to help us find it!

Model Writing

Do your kids see you writing? I’m sure they know you write—we certainly talk and/or complain about it enough! But do you ever write around them? Do they see the process? When you model your writing, you give your children the opportunity to see how thoughts become words, words sentences, and sentences can become anything!

Take community politics. If you’re that citizen who rallies the governmental troops for changes through a letter-writing campaign, share that process with your kids.

Or maybe you rally the troops on a smaller scale. Instead of telling your family about the wants and needs of the household, get a chalkboard and write messages. Encourage your kids to write a letter to Santa, not just a list. Put a sticky note in a backpack with a sentence or two of encouragement.

Look for ways to include writing in everyday life and then watch how your family’s skills grow.

Resist Short Cuts

Oh, the short cuts technology provides! It’s so much easier to grab the cell phone and call to say thanks or congratulations to our friends and family. But sending a note is something to be treasured.

A few years ago, a dear family friend in failing health had moved to North Carolina, and we made several trips to see Ann. My daughter was unable to go, and so instead, she wrote to her. I assumed it was just a short note, but when I arrived for the last time in North Carolina, Ann’s brother showed me the “note.” It was a two-page long letter!

He went and on and on about that letter and how much it had meant to Ann! He practically knew it by heart, since she’d read it so often. It had been a small thing to my daughter, taking the time to write that letter, but it had been a whole treasure chest of love for Ann.

Sure, a text or comment may last forever out there in the internet world, but no one ever bundled a bunch of texts or comments and tied them with a ribbon. A face-to-face call is nice, but memories fade with time.

Which brings us to the probable reason why the art of writing is fading from our busy lives. There’s no denying that it takes more time to write a meaningful thank you note, a cheery letter, or a happy congratulations. But if we can write 50,000 words for Nano, we can manage a few more words for the people we love.

Let’s challenge ourselves this holiday season to send a true gift from the heart. We’re writers! And we can bring back the lost art of writing, word by lovely word.

Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer and she's challenging herself to write letters--actual letters--during December. Though she'll probably put them in an envelope and mail 'em, she does love a good message in a bottle. (Isn't that the best photo? Check out Pexels for more fabulous and free photos. And check out more about Cathy here! She's kinda fab, too.)


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Our mutual friend, Lynn Obermoeller, is trying to keep epistolary writing (spelling?) alive with the letters she writes daily (and I do mean daily).

This is a wonderful post because letters ARE kept for years (sometimes) as they are reread and treasured.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, yes, Sioux! I've been the beneficiary of one of Lynn's letters! And I know from my own experience that the few letters I have from my mom, my dad, and the Beneficent Mr. Hall mean everything to me, now that they're gone.

Theresa Boedeker said...

This post had me nodding my head. Yes, letter writing and writing of any kind, even writing a check and envelope, is slipping away. Love your tips. I know I have all the letters and cards I have ever received. They do mean a lot.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

There's just *something* about receiving a handwritten card or note that brings a special kind of delight. And as this is the giving season, you're right that we should pick up a pen and give that gift to others. Thanks for the reminder.

Sherri Jones Rivers said...

I so agree with you. I have saved boxes of letters I revived while in college-- from friends, boyfriends, and family. Every once in a while I pull out that musty box and go back in time. My sister talked about all the letters and mementoes my mom kept as we were cleaning out things. She will not want to help clean out my dresser with all my sweet letters and notes. If I'm having a bad day, I can go back and can read and remember that I am special to someone. You've inspired me to do better.

Margo Dill said...

I'm going to try very hard to write out my Christmas cards this year instead of just getting the photograph kind with the printed greeting. Why? I don't know...but it just seemed like the thing to do when I found the cutest Christmas cards on sale last year. Maybe I'll get them out by Valentine's Day!

Lynn said...

Great article. And of course, I agree. This year I've written "birthday letters" instead of just sending a card. Not that I need an excuse to write a letter because I do write quite a few letters. I think as of September I had placed some 400 pieces of mail in the mail box. Not all were letters, but they were something sent via snail mail as we say. However, the post office is great. I send a letter one day and it arrives the next to the person! (if they are local). But still, it's pretty quick even out of state.

Linda O'Connell said...

I agree! Letter writing was my connection to my best friend for forty plus years. Hand written means written with love.

Angela Mackintosh said...

I save all my handwritten letters! I still have ones from my exes stored in an ancient suitcase, including prison letters...which are somehow sad and funny. Letter writing is definitely a lost art form. I feel sorry for anyone that would get one from me though. I'm afraid my handwriting has deteriorated terribly over the years, along with my wrists and carpal tunnel. =/

Mary Horner said...

I love getting letters and save them all (although I don't receive very many) but my mom does and I love to read hers as well. It's a great way to keep up with some relatives I don't get to see very often. I wish I were better at it, but perhaps a New Year's resolution is in order!

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