‘I started to write obsessively when I was a teenager. I had a little bit of a hard time in my own school environment so my long-distance friendships meant the world to me. I adored receiving postcards and letters and admiring the stamps from other interesting countries and cultures.
I am addicted to making things by hand, and hand-making presents and other things for family and friends. I love the Japanese obsession with paper crafts, beautifully presented food and general philosophy regarding kindness. I’m also a fan of anything tactile and analogue. I worry electronic mail is rushed, autocorrected and sometimes it is hard to gauge a person’s mood or personal response, so I find it hard to make electronic correspondence truly personal.
If you are starting to write letters, really think about what you want to say and how you are feeling. If it holds important information, try making a draft before you write the final letter. Choose a colour palette (paper and envelope) that suits the recipient. A letter can be written “just because” – don’t just pen one for an important occasion.
If you are trying to encourage kids to write more, get them to draw the name of the person they are writing to in a creative way. Make letter writing into an afternoon workshop – buy some fun craft supplies, envelopes and paper. If the person they are writing to loves cats, perhaps the lettering could include a cat? When they get excited about making something personal, the letter just needs a bit of heartfelt copy. You don’t need much special equipment. A good pen that suits the way you write can make writing letters such a pleasure. I’m left-handed so I need a pen that I don’t smudge my writing with. You might invest in some Washi tape (lots of it), stickers, twine, I use origami paper to make envelopes, but you could buy some cute ones in colours you love.
Writing letters teaches children about giving, kindness and compassion. It’s fun. It can ignite their interest in reading and learning about improving their writing, plus they could make someone’s day by sending a letter.
An eleven-year-old girl recently sent me a letter. Her auntie bought her a copy of my book Snail Mail. She wrote to me to tell me home much she loved reading the book and about how she now has a few pen pals in different countries, and has become obsessed with writing letters. It made me so happy she took the time to write to me.’