I Wrote Five Letters for Five Days – This is What I Learned

Letter writing is as old as the written word, but it’s become more of a lost art in the past few decades. When is the last time you got a letter in the mail? I’m not talking about an ad from a car dealership or some local politician. When a letter is written specifically for you, there’s something innately wholesome about it. There was someone that wanted to tell you about their lives, and they took the thought and effort to stay connected to you.

Occasionally, a few friends from high school will send a letter to me as a small update on their lives. For some reason, I have yet to ever reply to one of those letters with another letter. I always took the easy way out and sent a short text as my form of reply. I’d always think about writing a reply, but I’d never get around to it, so this week I decided to remedy this by writing five different letters for five different days this week.

Letter writing in and of itself is an art form. Letters have started entire wars and love affairs. If you think about it, letters have also delivered some of the most important news in history. At this point in history though, letters have lost most of their timely importance, but they still have the power to pack a punch.

Letters to congressmen can cause policy change or a letter to a loved one can tell someone how much we care about them. Regardless, letters still have a place in our lives, because they have the power to show how we feel in a way that a text, or even a phone call, couldn’t deliver.

When I was writing my letters each day, I would usually start off by writing about what was going on in my life. I realized by the third day that I had to start digging deeper into my life with each letter I wrote because it felt wrong to keep repeating the same thing I had said in my previous letters. In this sense, letter writing takes more reflection than I had anticipated. I found myself changing how I would write a story based on who I was writing to. It was like writing multiple drafts of the same story and finding a new way to look at the situation.

Writing letters is different than how I usually write because I’m used to writing to a general audience. Writing letters is definitely more personal than a text or phone call. An entire page dedicated to a single person without any back and forth replies is different than what my Gen Z self is used to. I've grown accustomed to talking about myself in the context of 140 characters or a few text replies, but an entire page of written words is daunting in its blank entirety.

I tried to think back to the last time I wrote a letter and all I could remember was writing a pen pal letter to a student in Quebec. Although this sounds interesting, it was for my French class, and all I really knew how to write in French was where I was from and that I liked going to the beach. It wasn’t exactly groundbreaking letter-writing, but it was a way to make a connection that I couldn’t speak into words.

I found myself looking forward to writing a letter each day because they were always for different people. It made me consider who was important in my life and who I knew would even read a letter from me. A lot of people would generally question what the point of writing a letter is when there are phones and FaceTime, and all I can come up with is, is that when someone takes the time to stay in contact with another person, it just shows how much someone cares about you.

College is a time to make new connections with people you would’ve never met back home which is amazing, but there’s something about receiving a letter from a childhood friend who lives 500 miles away that makes you think about home. It made me feel a little bit closer to my hometown and recall memories with people that I hadn’t thought about in years.

I always keep letters from friends and family, because they’re something to look back on when I’m feeling nostalgic. Letters are written time-capsules that capture emotions and moments. I wanted my letters to be something that people could hold onto to feel loved or maybe even laugh.

In the end, letter writing was more rewarding than I could’ve imagined. It was a way to reflect on myself and my memories with other people. This made taking a few minutes out of the day to write down how I felt or what I was doing worth it.

If you have time, I’d stay take out a piece of paper and pen and just write. Write a letter to your best friend, your mom, or maybe even yourself. It’s a way to think about important parts of your life and to show people how important they can be to your life – even if they aren’t always a part of it.