Elizabeth Weil, one of Twitter’s early employees told me about her passion for letterpress and the fading art of printing. Over the years we talked often about our love for paper and pens and ink. And then a couple of years ago, I ordered some stationery from her tiny letterpress print studio, PaperWheel Press. It isn’t anything fancy — simple cards and plain envelopes — just to write simple, short notes to people who have contributed meaningfully to my life.
The more I use Email, iMessage, Twitter, Facebook, MessageMe, or whatever new tool of communication — the more I feel disconnected from the actual act of writing. I appreciate the sentiments and the communication itself, but I don’t feel that vital tug of the heart. That was, perhaps behind my love for writing notes. (And that also I get to use my big and heavy Montblanc 149 fountain pen — an added bonus.)
Another friend, Perry Nelson, who knows how much I love writing notes shared an article from The New York Times, about the quiet revival of the found art of thank you notes. Perry, incidentally, runs Nicely Noted, a small little stationery operation in Austin, Texas and is a pretty awesome person. The Times article points out that Jimmy Fallon writes thank you notes (and that alone makes him cool in my books) but so do increasing number of young people. Or maybe Jimmy is influencing them.
I for one like the idea of sending and receiving a small note — it is a little surprise in the mailbox filled with communications that want something from you — junk mail, charity contributions, bills and catalogues.
19 thoughts on “In praise of handwritten notes”
Yes to this 1000%. Receiving a handwritten note from just makes the relationship that much stronger knowing they took a few minutes out of their day to pen a handwritten note vs. a text, email or another digital channel of communication.
I have always maintained – time is the best gift you can give someone
I completely agree, taking the time to sit down and put pen to paper is invaluable. The act of selecting the stationery and the pen and considering your sentiment before writing it demonstrates the commitment to your relationship with that person. As Ms. Gelderman says, “…the process of opening a note, feeling the paper, seeing the imperfection of the writing, reading the message in another person’s voice, you actually feel like you have a piece of that person in your hand.”
Reblogged this on Installing (Social) Order and commented:
Odd, but interesting.
So true Om. I love handwritten notes especially in ink. I remember when I moved to states about 10 years ago, I was asking everybody I knew for a store that would sell ink to refill my pens.
Although it’s changing now. Handwritten notes are making a come back with sales and marketing using it as part of their lead nurturing programs We are seeing our customers using it as part of their drip campaigns to re-engage cold leads with lot of success.
It’s remarkable how in just last few years, community building and personalized communications are becoming the norm. Although, it’s not as formalized as email marketing and social media yet. We should expect an entire new industry popping up about personalized communication in the next few years.
It is old fashioned and glad that some of is are paying attention to these old fashioned social values. I am actually pretty encouraged that younger people are also doing the same!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Garima.
Hi Om. I think people are craving personal relationships. A recent study showed that people felt empty after spending 45 minutes on facebook and I feel guilty when I send a congratulations to someone via email or text. It just feels like the act doesn’t live up to the event.
After leaving a dinner party two years ago, my fiance wanted to send a thank you card, but the thought of stopping at the store and buying a card from a giant wall really deterred us. Plus, neither of us knew where our stamps were.
So we decided to build Felt–Personal, handwritten cards. Sealed, stamped and mailed. All from your iPad. http://www.feltapp.com.
I’d love to share more of the Felt story and our vision some time.
Interesting idea Tomer. Will check it out. Thanks for sharing!
I am a bit of a stationery junkie and can’t decide which I love more —the giving or receiving of anything handwritten. So much meaning in someone actually making the time to slow things down, put pen to paper and think only of you. Thanks for sharing.
Om – I remember spending inordinate amounts of time on handwriting all through my schooling, and I’m glad to see there’s some appreciation out there. When I joined the social team at RadioShack, I was surprised to learn that the team had a strict policy of sending out handwritten thank-you notes with ANYTHING shipped from the team – surprise and delight, contest winners, etc. We’ve redesigned the cards a few times, but we still maintain the rule. It’s been quite annoying at times – we’ve hosted contests/sweepstakes with over 80 winners at times, but it’s always worth it. My handwriting pretty much sucks these days (dad-burn keyboards….) but the responses that we get are awesome. People are surprised to see a big brand not outsourcing the prize fulfillment and love getting the handwritten cards.
That is just awesome to hear. Notes for the win
Paper+Fountain Pen is the way to go. I think when one handwrites a note or a letter, the process forces one to really think; an almost visual state where thoughts and words are formed before they are captured on paper. It does not take much to inspire me to experiment with stationery – I am off ordering some cards and envelopes.
In the meantime, here’s a blog about why I went back to paper. http://poetatnight.blogspot.com/2014/01/ipads-vs-notepads.html
Thanks for sharing that nice blog post. It was fun to read that. Try some cool cards from Montblanc. They are buttery smooth 🙂
Writing on quality paper, with a good pen is such a tactile experience. The texture of the surface of the paper under your fingers, and your hand as you rest it on the paper. The clean and resistance free flow of the ink on the paper, the chunky feeling of a great pen in your hand.
Then there is the content of the note, the quality of the paper and pen forcing you to take time to consider what you will say in the note, and it will be a little part of you, that you will seal up and send off.
I agree wholeheartedly!
I have always maintained that if one cares enough about one’s family and friends they will use occasional hand written note (Thank You, Get Well, Condolence, or just an invite to dinner).
Also feels wonderful to receive such a note.
I love that people are discovering stationery for the first time and new fans are being created. For a few others, stationery has always been an important part of our lives and will never go out of style. One of my inspirations for starting my stationery boutique was the positive feedback I received for the handcrafted cards I made for my friends, family and coworkers. My goal was to spread cheer, acknowledge an important event or say thank you. Their reactions were so encouraging that it propelled me to start Playa Paper. My mission is to keep the art of letter writing, sending invitations and mailing cards alive…
I agree — this is a social behavior that can go viral and become cool again 🙂
Love this! I really enjoy writing handwritten notes to people either to thank them for something they’ve written or just to say hi! Not sure if you’ve seen Gramr, but it was a Kickstarter encouraging handwritten notes: http://gramr.us
Thanks Jeremey. Keep on writing 🙂
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