Life

Don't give up the beautiful art of letter writing

Rediscover the joy of sending and receiving a letter

DO you remember the old saying, put pen to paper?

It seems that in these days of the world wide web and advancing technology, we don't often put this method into practice.

In the fast-paced society we live in, how often do we actually sit and write something down on paper?

With the expansion of social media and smart phones, we communicate with one another through email, text and instant messaging - we expect to be able to talk to others instantly and often get annoyed when it takes several minutes, never mind hours, to get a reply.

So why write letters that will take days to arrive at their destination when you can send an message that the recipient will get in seconds?

This week Royal Mail is trying to combat that sort of argument and is encouraging people to rediscover the joy of sending and receiving a letter.

Its first National Letter Writing Week aims to try and engage young people with letter writing as well as improving literacy.

It comes as a new report reveals that businesses are struggling to find staff with adequate writing skills, despite the fact young people believe they are good at writing cover letters.

The study, which was undertaken by the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby, looked into the importance of letter writing to young people's employability.

It found 90 per cent of young people said they feel confident about their letter writing skills.

However, more than half of employers interviewed found it difficult to recruit people with good writing skills.

Stephen Agar from Royal Mail said the research 'demonstrates the relevance of letter writing to young people today'.

So is letter writing really a dying art? Are handwritten letters really obsolete these days?

When was the last time you actually put pen to paper?

I have fond memories of when I was growing up, going to buy pretty pink or lemon writing paper and coloured pens to write to my friends, telling them what was happening in my life.

I would draw things on the top of the pages and on the outside of the envelope, little flowers, a rainbow or sometimes add stamps and stickers.

Or do you remember when we used to have pen pals? As as young girl, I sent dozens of beautifully written letters to my friend Claudine in Toulon and waited excitedly for her return letter dropping through our letter box.

Nowadays more than ever before, as we live in such fast-paced times, there is something special about knowing that someone has taken the time out of their busy life to write a personal, hand-written letter just for you.

It doesn't have to be packed full of information, sometimes it's simply knowing that thought has been put into it and sent to you that makes it special.

Yes, there's the benefits of email and text messaging - the instantaneousness of this form of communication. And yes, we can edit our messages, whereas a mistake in letter writing looks unsightly or forces the writer to start all over again.

But the fact is we love to receive a hand-crafted, thoughtful letter in the post.

And they are there to keep. I have a box of special letters and cards I have received since childhood, each one with a different, special meaning to me.

Some of the senders are no longer alive, but I can see their writing in front of me and recall where I was or what I was doing in my life when the letter was sent to me.

Letters are a slow-motion conversation, but every word in them matters and you carefully consider what you want to say back.

They are discussions evolving over the course of months rather than hours, days or minutes.

There is much to be said about seeing someone's handwriting, their mistakes or doodles on the piece of paper that they have used to write their letter.

By forgetting about this art of letter writing, we are missing out.

So this week, forget about the hundreds of emails and texts you might send and remember how much more personal it is to receive just one letter from someone.

Life

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