The International Correspondence Writing Month, or InCoWriMo is back on and it was great. It's an online event that challenges you to write a letter every day for 28 days (29 in a leap year). By writing every day, you can instantly improve your handwriting if you want to. Two birds with one stone. Small addition, it doesn't have to be a whole letter, a card is also fine, as long as it is handwritten.
Annual online event
The official launch date of the InCoWriMo website is January 25th 2013 and was launched by Fountain Pen Geeks with the goal of stimulating handwritten correspondence. It's a global event and it's still very much alive and kicking. Why the month of February has been chosen, is explained on the website: "February is a perfect month for a daily writing event, because it is the month with the fewest days. We are dedicated, but not crazy." Do you have a smile on your face like me when you read this? 😊
Do you have to write every day
The intention of this event is, that you write a letter or card every day in February, by hand - no email, app or other digital medium. But ... for whatever reason, you don't always manage to write a letter every day. Make sure that at the end of February you have written 28 (29) letters or cards and sent or delivered them.
When I look at my daughters generation, the generation Z, I think it's a shame that they don't see the beauty of a handwritten letter or card. They grew up completely in the digital world, they don't even have books at school, but an iPad. I understand that we can't ignore the technological development and I'm probably old-fashioned, but pretty stationery and a fountain pen, I still think that's a very nice way to correspond. It has something special, something personal.
Known or unknown addressee
The beauty of this 'writing month' is that it doesn't matter who you write to or how many different people you write to You can send a letter or card to someone you know, this can be family, a friend or an acquaintance. For example, you can write a thank-you note to the physiotherapist or the teacher at school. You can also write to the same person every day. It can be approached as broad or narrow as you want.
Maybe you still have an address of an old pen pal and you can dust off the exchange of letters between you two. If you like to send a note to strangers, you can go to the InCoWriMo website. On this website an address list of participants from all over the world is published every year.
Global address list
You can choose addresses from the global mailing list and have your own address listed, so you too can receive mail from all over the world. If you don't want your address to be visible online, it's better not to add your address to the list because it's a public list and can be found by anyone. Don't care if your address is visible online? You can add yourself to the world map as a participant of the InCoWriMo event. More information can be found on the website of InCoWriMo..
A small world
The funny thing this year, was that I got a message via the InCoWriMo Facebook page from someone in the Netherlands, whether I would mind sending a letter to a Dutch address. Of course I don't mind. I requested her address through Messenger and it turns out she lives 15 kilometers away from my home. Suddenly the global event was a very small InCoWriMo world 🙂.
InCoWriMo on social media
There is a lot to be found online about InCoWriMo. Search the various social media platforms with #incowrimo and you can keep looking around.
There is an active Facebook group, and there is an Instagram account. There is also a Twitter account, @InCoWriMo, but nothing has been posted on this account since 2017. And don't forget Pinterest! A bunch of inspiration, examples and ideas can be found there under 'incowrimo' and click on 'all pins' in the search bar. Tip: set a timer, because you can click away for a couple of hours on Pinterest 😉.
What to write about
You're ready to start writing your letter and then ... nothing, you have no idea what to write about. It happens to every participant I think. Don't be discouraged if you don't know what to write. I'll give you 10 ideas that you can use as a subject for your correspondence. Tip: grab your bullet journal, notebook or planner and write down some topics that come to mind. Also write down the names of people you want to send a letter to anyway. This will make it a lot easier for you if you get stuck somewhere in the process.
10 ideas to write about
- What is the region you live in known for?
- What are you looking forward to - for example, an upcoming holiday, a concert or family event.
- Write about what you saw when you were out for a walk.
- What kind of work do you do and what does it involve?
- What is your favorite book / music?
- Which season do you like the most and why?
- Explain how an upcoming national holiday is celebrated.
- Tell me something about how you prefer to spend your free time.
- How do you prefer to drink your coffee or tea?
- What is your favorite quote?
Beyond the fact that InCoWriMo is just a fun challenge, writing by hand is also very good for you.We're typing more and more whether it's on the computer, tablet or smartphone. In Finland they've even reached the point where writing lessons have been replaced by typing lessons. Personally I don't think it's a bad idea to include typing lessons in the standard education, but I don't think it's a substitute for handwriting. Rather a very good addition.
Learning to write has the following benefits
It's good for our brain development
When we write, our left and right hemispheres work together. Among other things, we activate our motor skills, spatial perception and support our memory by writing by hand. It is no coincidence that they call writing 'brain exercise'.
We learn to read more easily because we perform motor actions when writing a letter.
Through writing by hand, children are more likely to recognize letters. Each written letter has a different form of movement, as opposed to typing a letter. The movement is the same regardless the letter.
The writing posture contributes to the development of our body coordination.
This includes both large and small motor skills. There are a lot of muscles and body parts that have to work together to be able to write. Think of your eye-hand coordination, your muscles in your fingers and neck, your brain has to process signals etc. There are many aspects to writing by hand, so it is a difficult skill and we have to start early.
Writing by hand has a positive effect on your concentration
Apart from the fact that there is a lot of distraction on a phone, computer or tablet, you need concentration when writing. We use our hand and hold an instrument with which we write, we think about how we write the letters, how we build a sentence and what we find important to write down. When writing by hand, you think more than when typing a message using a keyboard.
Back to InCoWriMo
All research and benefits aside, InCoWriMo is about writing by hand and thus creating something for someone else with attention. I don't know how you feel about receiving mail, but I still like to hear the clattering mailbox in our front door when a letter or card is delivered in an old-fashioned way.
I like to make my own stationery and envelopes using stamps. It's so easy and immediately makes it more special and unique, because no two envelopes or letters are the same.
I also use InCoWriMo again and again to pay extra attention to my way of writing. By writing in cursive with a fountain pen for a month, I notice that my handwriting is improving a lot.
The next InCoWriMo I will definitely participate again. I always send a note to an unknown person and 80% of the attendees will send a letter back. If you've received mail from someone, you can return a letter if you like. That's how I gained a number of nice international 'pen friends' from the InCoWriMo.