February Is InCoWriMo, aka, International Correspondence Writing Month. The idea is simple: to hand write one letter every day for the month of February. 28 days. 28 letters. 28 recipients.
Simple, but maybe not so easy.
I've always liked the idea of InCoWriMo, and finally decided that this would be the year. Easy or not, I'd do it. And what I realized as I started brainstorming ideas -- who I would send my letters to, and what I would wright -- is that every single one was about gratitude.
Letter writing (especially by hand) is something few of us ever NEED to do these days. It's a special thing. Something we go out of our way to do, with extra care and attention, which passes slowly and carefully from the hands of the writer to the hands of the reader. And when I think about the kinds of things I'd go to such lengths to say, "thank you" is the first that comes to mind.
Thank you for being my boss. My friend. My significant other. For making my life better, more full, more fun. For that thing you did that made me laugh and for that time you helped me even when you had your own things to deal with.
February is speeding towards us now, and in the last few days before January ends I thought I'd compile some ideas and resources to help inspire you to take on 28 Days of Letter Writing for yourself. It may seem like a daunting task at first (I put it off for three years running) but as I took the time to lay out the information below, I started to think it might not be so difficult after all.
WHO DO I WRITE TO?
The first and most obvious question of InCoWriMo is this: how do I come up with 28 people to write letters to? Most of us don't have that many close friends and family, so here are some ideas to get you started. I've also included some suggestions of what to write, just to get the ball rolling. (Have other ideas that aren't on this list? Leave them in a comment at the bottom of the page!)
- A best friend, or closest group of friends. Let them know what you love about them, thank them for something they've done for you, or just tell them about this weird Letter Writing Month thing you're doing and why you decided to do it.
- Your spouse, significant other, or even your ex. Let them know how much you love them, or take this opportunity to bring some resolution and closure to old feelings.
- A boss or coworker. Tell them what you appreciate about working with them!
- A teacher, mentor, or roll model. Let them know the impact they've had on you.
- Write a letter to other IncoWrimo participants (here's a list from the IncoWrimo website)
- Send some love to a stranger via More Love Letters
- Or, take a queue from the creator of More Love Letters by leaving random love letters for strangers to find around your own city or town.
- Write a letter to your future (or past) self. What do you wish you could go back and tell yourself? What do you want future you to remember?
- Send to a babysitter you liked. Imagine how good it would feel if the (now grown) child you used to watch over wrote you a letter to let you know they remember you, and enjoyed the good times they had under your care?
- Your family -- parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins you never get to see -- you know they want to hear from you!
- A childhood friend you haven't seen in ages. Try reaching out and seeing who they've grown into, and share who you've become, too.
- Write a letter to our troops (here: Operation Gratitude), and thank them for their service.
- Write to a famous person (you can search online for where to send fan mail, or pull a name from this list compiled by GouletPens.com)
- Join a sight like PostCrossing to find pen-pals from all over the world. You can also search online for other pen-pal pairing sites, or ask any forums you frequent if anyone is interested in corresponding via letter.
- Write to me! Send me an email at email@example.com, and I'll provide you with an address to mail your letter. (If I don't get too many, I'll even write you back!)
Keep in mind these letters don't have to be lengthy or grand. They can be short, cute, silly, or anything you want them to be. They can be a haiku, or an essay, or just a "hey! how's it going?." They can be in beautiful cursive or your own, perfect, messy scrawl. They can be written in cards, on stationary, on torn-out notebook paper. It doesn't matter.
What matters is that you write, and give, and (hopefully) make someone's day in the process. You may even find new friends in doing so, or a personal satisfaction in knowing the things you want to say have been said. Maybe just knowing you've made a connection with someone is reward enough in itself. I'm reminded of the words of Kahlil Gibran: "there are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward." Sometimes by giving to others, we give to ourselves too.
OTHER RESOURCES AND INSPIRATION
Are you with me? Let me know in the comments below!
Have you ever participated in InCoWriMo? Any tips?
Who would you write to? (Add to my list!)
What's the best card or letter you've ever received?