Sunday 1 January 2023

Musings for the new year, 2023

Snail Mail, the sending of letters through the post may seem outdated in the digital & internet age, but there are people finding doing this offline activity enjoyable, and stress-reducing. The analogue nature, the wait for the response adds to the relaxing nature of the hobby. Letters can demand to be answered but usually there is not the urgency that emails command. 

How do we attract new people to the hobby, when there is a cost of living crisis? As I type, to send a regular letter within the UK costs 68p with a second class stamp. What else can you get for 68p? The cost of stationery used for a letter can be mere pennies. You don’t need expensive paper, nor costly pens to write a letter. You don’t need to use papers specifically designed for letters, though when I have bought such sets (paper with matching envelopes), the ratio of sheets to envelopes is wrong for my requirements (2 pages of A5 is not enough, and these writing set sheets are mostly decorated on one side, and/or perhaps the other side is not suitable for writing on). Then, there are notecards, but for longer missives, paper needs to be added in. 

Maybe letter writing is an excuse for some people to use their fountain pens. It was someone associated with the fountain pen industry who started the February letter writing project called InCoWriMo, where participants write a letter every day in the month. A way to practise penmanship, cursive handwriting, or even calligraphy. The latter is more of an art form rather than a flow of words. 

But this can give the impression letter writing is a snobby hobby! I have received letters written with fountain pens worth over £1000. Does that make those letters worth more than ones written with cheap ballpoint or gel pens? No. It is the words / content of the letter that matters to me, but if writing with a nice pen brings joy to the writer… I’m all for that. 

How do you find penpals? There are various penpalling sites out there, both more traditional sites, and places on social media. I have tried a few, with very much a mixed success. One size does not fit all. My way of snailmailing may not suit everyone. It may also take you time to find your style as well. Friendships take time, and may not work for everyone. How many people in your classes at school would you refer to as good friends then, and how many of them now? 

When I started this blog, there were several more snailmail blogs. Now, there aren't that many regularly updated. A shame. Everything seems to be on Instagram, with pretty pictures, rather than words and something to read & engage the mind. I'm tired of the algorithms social media use making it harder to see what I want to see and so I missed out on many posts by penfriends & other snailmail people I was following. Pictures, images, instant gratification. And as for the birdplace, well... that is another kettle of fish.

Snailmail is not an elite hobby.


  1. Writing and posting a letter is much cheaper than buying a coffee from Costa or Starbucks or wherever, and it's a great feeling to getsomething back in the post. :)