WRITE_ON CHALLENGE WEEK 4: GRATITUDE

Life is full of opportunities to connect with each other. In celebration, love, loss, with gratitude, in sickness or remorse; there are always reasons to reach out. Each week of April’s Write_On Challenge, we’ll explore a different theme to inspire your letter writing, and share tips and tricks to help, no matter the occasion.

We get how easy it is to get bogged down with the daily to-dos, but we’re here to remind you that taking the  time to say thanks (for the big things and the little things) has the power to spread so much joy. Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to remind people that we value them and to let them know how greatly their actions impact us. Gratitude isn’t just for material gifts; small favors, selfless tasks, and gestures of goodwill are ripe for acknowledgement too. Taking time to consider what’s good in your life and spreading gratitude can have an incredible ripple effect on your happiness and that of others.

gratitude.jpg

TIPS

  • Make your letters of gratitude specific. Skip the generic expressions of gratitude which could be written by anyone and said about anything.

  • Try to quantify the benefits of a physical gift to your life. Perhaps that new coffee maker saves you 15 minutes every morning that you can now use to read the newspaper.

  • Be genuine. Use caution with flowery language and hyperbole which can be perceived as exaggerated or insincere.

  • Appreciate the thought that went into the gift. Acknowledge the insight of the gifter - whether the gift speaks to your character, taste, specific needs or wants.

  • Timeliness can strengthen your message. If you write promptly after a gift is received, the giver will likely feel a double dose of appreciation - your expedience gives more power to the sentiment.

  • Conversely, it can be nice to send a thank you whenever you happen to be thinking of the gift or gesture, even if it was in the distant past - this says that their actions have had a lasting impact.

  • Honor thoughtfulness when you feel it! Favors and gestures big and small deserve to be recognized, as do quality time and festive occasions. Any time is a good time to let your people know when something brings joy and meaning to your life.

PROMPTS

  • Write a second thank you for a gift you’ve received.

  • Write to someone with a skill you admire, and ask them to teach it to you!

  • Thank a friend for seeing you as you are.

  • Send a note of appreciation to a person or business that’s doing good for your community.

  • Write to a neighbor complimenting them! Maybe it’s their impressive vegetable garden or simply the fact that they always smile and wave when they see you outside.

  • Write a note to thank someone for small things that can easily go unacknowledged like taking the trash out, emptying the dishwasher, starting the coffee pot in the morning.

  • Thank someone for listening or for good advice.

  • Use letter writing as a vehicle for an act of kindness and goodwill. Maybe it's a short and simple thank you left behind at the movie theater to share appreciation for the staff working to tidy up between showings. Pay kindness forward as a way to surprise and delight someone.

  • Choose a friend, family member or loved one. Send a note with 3 things you appreciate about them letting them know that you give thanks for them.

WEEKLY SPECIAL & GIVEAWAY

This week, all thanks, blanks, and love & friendship cards are 25% off on our site with code GRATITUDE. We’ve also got another giveaway lined up packed with thank you cards and letter writing supplies from #Write_On, @eggpress and @sakuraofamerica, so be sure to check Instagram on Wednesday for your chance to win.

WRITE_ON CHALLENGE WEEK 3: EMPATHY

Life is full of opportunities to connect with each other. In celebration, love, loss, with gratitude, in sickness or remorse; there are always reasons to reach out. Each week of April’s Write_On Challenge, we’ll explore a different theme to inspire your letter writing, and share tips and tricks to help, no matter the occasion.

unnamed.jpg

This week we’re talking about how letter writing can be a powerful way to support and buoy one another during life’s more difficult times. It can be daunting to sit in front of a blank page not knowing where to begin, what to say, what words to avoid, and how to be there for someone going through a hard time. There’s no right way to express your condolences, apologies, or words of encouragement, but hopefully these tips and reminders will help you overcome the writer’s block and get you writing. Often in these situations, a note of support, no matter how clunky, is better than not having written at all.

Every situation is unique, as is your relationship to the recipient of your letter. We hope these tips are a good starting place, but in the end if you speak from your heart, your words and thoughtfulness will carry a lot of comfort. Probably more than you know.

TIPS FOR LETTERS OF SUPPORT

We all experience adversities in our lives, some heavier than others, but all valid and packed with emotions across the spectrum. It’s our human nature to want to support friends and loved ones, lift spirits, encourage perseverance, and show care for their wellbeing. Making space in your letter writing practice to support the people in your life is important. The impact isn’t always visible or acknowledged by the recipient, but reaching out in times of need can have a huge impact.

As much as possible, put yourself in the position of the recipient - what would you want to hear in your own time of need? Share your experience, but be cautious not to push advice.

TIPS FOR LETTERS OF CONDOLENCE

When we encounter someone in pain, we feel compelled to try to end their suffering. But we can’t remove the complex emotions of a tragedy no matter how hard we try, it’s not that simple. Instead of approaching your letter writing with the pressure to offer a cure or to heal their pain, think of yourself as a helper. In that capacity, what can you do? Be present and find a way to tell them “I am here.”

When we suffer a loss, it can be easy to neglect everyday needs. When you write to comfort someone going through a loss and want to do something to help, avoid open-ended offers like “let me know what I can do.” Instead make specific actionable suggestions to take burdens off their plate. “Let me pick up Aunt Susan when she lands next week” or “Please let me host your family for Easter this year! Don’t bring a thing, just come over at 10am for brunch.”

As tempting as it might be to jot inspirational messages from a quick online search, avoid using cliches as a crutch if possible. They may be perceived as insincere, or feel inauthentic. Use your own voice and try to offer hope. People grieving often have a hard time seeing past their immediate pain and can feel significant hopelessness. If you’ve experienced something similar, sharing your story may help the recipient feel less alone. It also may offer a seed of hope, knowing that you came through it. Be mindful not to assume you know how they’re feeling. Steer clear of statements like “I know exactly how you feel” or “I understand what you’re going through.” We all process differently, and to assume you know how they’re feeling may end up belittling their pain.

TIPS FOR LETTERS OF RECONCILIATION

To mess up is human, and we all mess up from time to time. Letter writing can help us admit it, learn from it, and let it go. Reaching out to apologize isn’t easy, and it involves some risk: fear of rejection, judgement, or even retaliation. That said, putting your apology out there can not only let the recipient know that you're thinking of them, but also help us process feelings of burden, guilt, shame, and regret. By taking time to intentionally write your apology, you are endeavoring to heal you both. A letter can also be a nice way to give yourself time and space to be rational and composed.

Accepting responsibility doesn’t mean taking the blame and an apology letter is not necessarily the place to ask for forgiveness. State your truth, but be willing to accept any consequences. Best not to rehash or replay the incident - you can’t undo it and it implies the person you hurt wasn’t there or paying attention. And, more importantly, it may make them re-live a painful experience. Instead think about your intention then or now, and own your part by thinking of ways in which you might have been insensitive without realizing it.

PROMPTS

This week, instead of a list of prompts, if you need a nudge, start a hard letter you have been wanting or meaning to write. Do not plan on sending it, instead, write this letter for yourself and use it as a format for you to get more clear about how you feel. If once you write it, if you decide you want to send it, or a version of it, great, but if not, consider it a start - a big step in resolving something for yourself.

WEEKLY SPECIAL & GIVEAWAY

Having the right card on hand can help set the tone for your letter - this week, all sympathy cards are 25% off on our site with code EMPATHY. We’ll be giving away a set of cards to cover the hard topics along with some other letter writing goodies and pens from @sakuraofamerica, so be sure to tune in on Instagram this Wednesday for a chance to win.

unnamed-1.jpg

WRITE_ON CHALLENGE WEEK 2: CREATIVITY

Life is full of opportunities to connect with each other. In celebration, love, loss, with gratitude, in sickness or remorse; there are always reasons to reach out. Each week of April’s Write_On Challenge, we’ll explore a different theme to inspire your letter writing, and share tips and tricks to help, no matter the occasion.

Photo & coloring by Claire Astrow -  @clur_astroid

Photo & coloring by Claire Astrow - @clur_astroid

Last July we sent out a survey asking YOU, our Write_On community, what you wanted to see more of from the campaign. Over and over again we heard your desire for more DIY opportunities, more ways to express creativity not solely through letter writing, but what the letter is written on. So we listened. We turned this year’s design into a canvas for you to add to and make your mark on. In this first week alone we’ve been so excited to see the ways you’ve taken the card and added your personal touch. This week’s focus is on getting your creative juices flowing and thinking outside the box with your letter-writing practice.

Receiving a handwritten letter in the mail is such a delight these days when our mailboxes are filled with bills, solicitations, and unwanted coupons. We propose to amp it up this week and take letter writing a step further by making the vessel for your message something totally unique and exciting. Let’s make the mailbox a fun place again!

PROMPTS & IDEAS: THE ENVELOPE

  • Decorate the envelope and get creative with how you write the recipient’s address - we call this letter dressing.

  • Try incorporating one of the downloadable Write_On envelope liners, new on the site this year!

  • Experiment with non-traditional mail (like sending a plastic dinosaur, a coconut, or bagel) be prepared for the reality that all of the items may not make it.

  • Try out a new lettering style (like writing in all caps or brushing up on your cursive) .

  • Dismantle an existing envelope that you like the shape of, then use it as a template to make your own using gift wrap, something recycled like a newspaper or shopping bag, or another fun type of paper.

  • Use rubber stamps, stickers, vintage postage, or washi tape to cover the outside of your envelope, leaving room for the address, of course!

  • Be sure to check the USPS website to learn the rules of addressing a letter before getting to work on your masterpiece!

PROMPTS & IDEAS: THE CARD INSIDE AND OUT

  • Use something unconventional to write your letter on - a coaster as a postcard for example.

  • Write in an uncommon way - use your non-dominant hand, or write backwards so the reader has to use a mirror to decode it.

  • Write a letter in multiple parts - sending it all in the same envelope OR in multiple envelopes as a series that the recipient must collect in order to get the whole message.

  • Write a haiku as your letter.

  • Send a Mad Libs style letter, asking the recipient to fill in the blanks and mail back to you - a self addressed stamped envelope would be nice to include with this one too.

  • Make a pop-up card!

  • Send a letter from your pet to a friend’s pet.

  • Include a photo or ticket stub to turn your letter into a time capsule of sorts.

  • Create an abstract pattern or design on a large sheet of paper using watercolor (we love the Sakura Koi sets!), markers or colored pencil, then cut down into card sized pieces to write on or in.

WEEKLY SPECIAL & GIVEAWAY

To encourage you to experiment with materials, color, and more, this week we’re including a blank canvas (a special DIY card with nothing on it, ready for your masterpiece) in the first 30 retail orders placed on eggpress.com (no code needed!) We can’t wait to see what you create! And, be sure to follow @eggpress on Instagram for your chance to win a pack of DIY cards, a Sakura Koi Watercolor set, Gelly Rolls, washi tape rolls, and more this Wednesday!

e_DSC1593.jpg

Write_on Challenge Week 1: Celebration

Life is full of opportunities to connect with each other. In celebration, love, loss, with gratitude, in sickness or remorse; there are always reasons to reach out. Each week of April’s Write_On Challenge, we’ll explore a different theme to inspire your letter writing, and share tips and tricks to help, no matter the occasion.

congratsemail.jpg

In this first week of the 30 Day Write_On Challenge, we’re focusing on celebration and acknowledging life’s milestones - big or small.

Life has so many things to celebrate – here are a few to get you started:

  • Birthdays

  • Weddings & Engagements

  • Baby, adoption, new pet

  • Graduations

  • New house, a big move

  • New jobs, a professional accomplishment

  • Anniversaries, friend-versaries

  • Holidays

  • Awards, accolades, public recognition

TIPS

You don’t have to write a novel (unless you want to), but be sure your note is personal. Show the reader you didn’t just remember their birthday or are sending a card to celebrate their engagement out of obligation. You want them to know that you’re truly thinking about them, that you dedicated time to pause and share your delight for their exciting life event.

Tailor your letter to the recipient. Pass on a specific wish for the newlyweds, write your favorite memory of a shared experience for a friend’s birthday, or a recollection of their nerves on the first day of med school, congratulating them on how far they’ve come as they earn their degree as a doctor.

Be yourself and write how you speak – let your unique voice shine through – it feels more personal that way. Use phrases and expressions that will help the reader recognize you in your writing. If done right, your recipient can feel as if you’re right there with them, having a conversation.

PROMPTS & IDEAS

  • Write a half-birthday card to someone, or unbirthday card a la Alice in Wonderland

  • Make up your own holiday, give it a funny name, and send cards to all your besties

  • Congratulate someone on a big achievement or small victory

  • Confetti bomb! Grab a hole punch and colored paper to make your letter a tiny contained party

  • Write a letter to yourself to celebrate your own milestone, capturing how you feel in that moment - be sure to date it and stash it away to revisit later

  • Send a paper invite to a local friend to celebrate something in person

  • Send a seasonal card to a friend around an equinox or the first sign of spring to celebrate the best things of the season to come

  • Write a “just because” note to a loved one celebrating them! Let them know what you appreciate about them

WEEKLY SPECIAL & GIVEAWAY

To encourage you to cheer on your loved ones and to help them celebrate special moments, all Egg Press birthday, wedding, baby, and congrats cards are buy two get one free with code CELEBRATE, now through Sunday. Be sure to follow @eggpress on Instagram for your chance to win the ultimate celebration stationery prize pack this Wednesday from Egg Press and Sakura.

Gear up for the 2019 Write_On Challenge

National Letter Writing Month and the 30 day Write_On challenge are just weeks away! This year, in lieu of selling kits, we’re adding one of our 2019 limited edition color-in letterpress cards and a Gelly Roll pen from our partners Sakura to EVERY order on EggPress.com and the Write_On Shop FREE while supplies last!

edited.jpg

Need to stock up on supplies to write your 30 letters? We’ve got a limited number of 10 card bundles of thanks or blanks available to help set you up right! And, we’re offering 25% off your entire order when you spend $50+ online through March 31st with code WRITEON2019*.

e_email_DSC1228.jpg

LOOKING FOR MORE?

Visit the resources section of the website to download tools to help you throughout the challenge.

WANT TO HOST AN EVENT?

Want to host your own letter writing event in your community? Email us the details and we’ll post it on the events page to help get the word out. From casual coffee shop meet ups to more formal full-blown events, we love what you bring to the table every year to help spread the word and build meaningful connections across the globe through the art of letter writing.

*Code valid on retail orders only on EggPress.com from now until 11:59PST on 3/31/2019. Must enter coupon code at checkout.








National Random Acts of Kindness Day Challenge

This Sunday is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, which has us thinking about how much kindness can be spread through a single handwritten note. Maybe it's a thank you note handed to the barista at your neighborhood coffee shop, or a quick motivational quote jotted on a note left behind on your bus seat, or a secret letter to a stranger tucked inside a library book - the possibilities are endless, but the power of paying kindness forward is something incredible.

We challenge you to use letter writing as a vehicle for an act of kindness this weekend, and if you do, we'd love to hear about it. Share with us online using #Write_On, or join the Write_On Facebook group.

EP2018-72.jpg

Dear Valentine: Thoughts and Inspiration from Diana Chao of Letters to Strangers

Dear Valentine,

2/14 is supposed to be some magical day: love tinges the air with a blushed je-ne-sais-quoi; your heart is bubble-on-the-edge-of-the-blower full. The winter cold melts against the heat of a couple’s embrace; it’s gentle and beautiful and alive and awkward in all the most perfect of ways.

But sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, all that love is supplanted by loneliness.

The thing about love is that we are taught it as an external thing: to love someone, to be loved - these are internal feelings extrapolated to external relationships. When we say the cliche “love yourself,” the phrase can thud like a stone. What does it mean to love yourself? Acceptance - but of what? Kindness - but do I deserve it, always? “Love yourself” is a powerful mantra that dissolves upon contact, not because it’s not meaningful, but because we don’t always know what love looks like when it doesn’t take the form of something or someone else.

In this cold month of love, isolation and wistfulness are not rarities. But they should be. So, let’s take steps together to make Valentine’s Day not just a day of love, but an internalization of love.

Write a letter, dear stranger. To yourself. To someone else. To a stranger. Write your story, share your vulnerabilities, lend a hand. Share your wishes and your love; share what you think it means to love yourself.

IMG_5459 copy.jpg

Here are a few prompts to get started:

  1. In this cold winter weather, what keeps you warm? Beyond objects, are there people, activities, and events that bring you warmth? How?

  2. If self-love was a song, what would it sound like? Is it smooth jazz, improvisation and going with the flow? Is it indie pop, whimsical and emotional with a stable percussive beat? Is it lo-fi hip hop, a complex dance of rhythm and the faint buzzing of electric lines - something elated but just edgy enough to take you by surprise?

  3. What will you do this Valentine’s Day, or any day, really, in this cold month of love? How does that compare with what you want to do? Has this changed over the years?

If you’re writing to someone else, don’t forget to share your reflections with them. If it’s eating dumplings with family on Lunar New Year that brings you warmth, what do you want the reader to know? If self-love is 70s funk, how would you share your understanding of “love yourself” now with someone else? If you’re treating yourself to a nice dinner on V-Day, what do you want the reader to not be afraid to do? Anything outside of these prompts is fair game - this is your letter, after all. As you start writing, don’t be afraid to detour. Let your writing guide you. Where do your thoughts lead, and how does that feel? If you’re at a loss, check out some sample letters by Letters to Strangers here.

Love shouldn’t be a lonely thing, but when cold is relentless and the magic feels like someone else, it often is lonely. I want your words, your thoughts, and your letter to remind you that you are vibrant. Incredibly interesting. Strong in the subtlest of ways -- an exquisitely-defined human being who is deeply loved, not least by yourself, whatever that means for you. And I want you to share those thoughts and that love with others, even strangers.

2/14 is coming up. I can already taste the magic.

Love,

Diana

P.S. We partnered with Egg Press to giveaway some letterpress cards on our Instagram. Visit Letters To Strangers on Instagram and enter for a chance to win by 2/10.

1.jpeg.jpg

About Diana: Diana Chao is the Founder & Executive Director of Letters to Strangers (L2S), a global youth-run nonprofit seeking to de-stigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable quality treatment through anonymous letter-writing exchanges, education, and advocacy. Join the youth mental health movement and get involved by starting a chapter today!


Make time to write by hand for National Handwriting Day

It’s National Handwriting Day - the perfect opportunity to reunite with your favorite pen or pencil, and make time for some good old fashioned correspondence. There are many goofy holidays that pop up throughout the year, but this one falls on John Hancock’s birthday, and has been celebrated since 1977 - yeah, before the internet!

handwritinggrid.jpg

Aside from its unique aesthetic, writing by hand boasts some major benefits such as exercising your fine motor skills and improving dexterity, helps you retain information, and can have an emotional impact on your recipient - especially a loved one or pen pal who grows to know your unique lettering over time.

Stumped on who to write to? Visit our resources page to write to those in need - practice your penmanship and make someone smile at the same time.

We hope you’ll join us and make some time to put pen to paper today! If you do, be sure to share your unique handwriting with us in the Write_On Facebook group, or on Twitter and Instagram using #Write_On!

Write Around Portland with Kate Rood

Like many of you, I feel very nostalgic about back to school shopping. My most vivid memories are of decorating the covers of my 3-ring binders, each school subject a different color theme. Now the return to autumn has me shopping for new Egg Press stationery and waiting in line at my neighborhood USPS for the latest postage stamp release. I’m a correspondence fanatic (find me on Instagram @snailmailcreations), and I keep the #Write_On mission to “promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence” close to heart always.

One way I stay connected to creativity and correspondence year round is volunteering on the board of Write Around Portland, my favorite nonprofit! At Write Around Portland, we offer free writing workshops in prisons, hospitals, low income housing communities and other places where the act of writing nurtures hope and joy. After each workshop season, we publish an anthology and hold a public reading so that our community can benefit from hearing the stories of all Portlanders. We believe writing is powerful for individual and societal transformation, self-expression, healing and the realization of the dignity of one’s self and others.

Write Around Portland 2.jpg

Back to school time at Write Around Portland means the start of our fall workshops.This fall we’re bringing our workshops to folks receiving services at 15 different social service agencies, including p:ear, NICU Families NW, Chemawa Indian School, Home Forward and Whitewood Gardens Residential Care Facility.

Hand-written correspondence is a big element of every workshop. Following each session of a 10-week workshop, the facilitator (volunteers who complete a 27-hour training) sends a personalized postcard to each writer in the workshop.

10 weeks of love, multiplied by hundreds of workshop participants, equals thousands of postcards sent by Write Around Portland volunteers this fall. Thousands of postcards to help our participants realize and believe that they are all writers and to encourage their unique voices.

Write Around Porltand 6.jpg

If you’re leading a training, a class or a big meeting this fall, consider adding correspondence into your approach to engaging participants. A handwritten note before or after a meeting (or throughout if you’re leading a full class term or series) will build connection faster than any icebreaker can. So don’t forget to collect mailing addresses during sign ups!

Even if you’re not leading a group, try opening a card to a loved one with one of these Write Around Portland style prompts that we use in our workshops:

  • The night smelled like...
  • Fall brings…
  • I wish I knew…
  • In my parents kitchen...

I invite all #Write_On community members to get involved with Write Around Portland. Please join us for a writing workshop, our annual event, Raise Your Pen, on October 18th, or one of our community readings in December (follow us on Facebook for dates!). And if you are not able to join us at one of these, I hope you will check out this short video about how we use donations to support our workshops and the postcards that all our writers receive, and consider making a gift so that all Portlanders can feel the joy you and I do when we put pen to paper.

With love,
Kate

Write Around Portland 8.jpg

About Kate: Kate Rood serves as Community Engagement Officer for Beneficial State Foundation, a unique foundation working to change the banking system for good through advocacy and stewardship of the triple bottom line mission of Beneficial State Bank. Before joining the movement for better banking, Kate advised Portland State University’s Impact Entrepreneurs on social innovation events and community programs. Her background is in executive education, bringing business leaders together for collaboration and community. Kate received a BA in political science from Smith College and an MBA from Portland State University. A published writer, Kate believes good things happen when we speak, write and bear witness to each other’s stories. She is on the board of directors for both Write Around Portland and B Local PDX. Kate is passionate about the positivity, creativity and mindfulness of handwritten mail, and makes and sends cards every week.

WRITE_ON AND TEDxPORTLAND LETTER EXCHANGE

On Saturday, April 21st, we teamed up with TEDxPortland for a special Write_On community letter-writing experiment: We invited participants to write a letter to a stranger (another attendee) documenting their biggest takeaway from the speakers they heard. This year’s event was curated around the idea of building bridges - featuring speakers from all disciplines and walks of life who shared their stories, experiences, and ideas to an audience of thousands. Writing a letter to a stranger was a big ask and unlike anything we’d done before, but we felt that in the spirit of bridge building and engaging with a broader community we’d give it a try. We got nothing but good feels in return – people were game to be a part of this thought sharing collective. They took to writing outdoors, at tables inside and at their seats.

Photo courtesy of TEDxPortland

Photo courtesy of TEDxPortland

IMG_5468 copy.jpg
IMG_5458.JPG

We’re already excited for TEDxPortland 2019 to catch up with some of these folks. We’re curious...How many made a new friend or became pen pals? How many people learned to see something in a new light? How many people discovered that they like the act of writing letters, and how exciting it is to receive one in return?

IMG_5445.jpg

Write_On and 826 Valencia Host an Ocean of Thanks

Special thanks to everyone who joined us at 826 Valencia on Saturday for our Ocean of Thanks event celebrating the launch of the 2018 30 Day Write_On Challenge alongside Thank You Thursday. We had such a great time writing thank you notes in an attempt to reach our goal of 826 letters in one day, which we exceeded by writing *drum roll please* 844 thank you notes in a day!!! It was so fun to sit down and connect with people of all ages, using the beautiful letterpress cards printed especially for the event, and creating our own cards using Mrs. Grossman's stickers and our favorite Sakura of America pens. We are so grateful for our community of letter-writers and we love seeing the art put to action. Thank you to everyone who joined our San Francisco event, including our sponsors! We are so excited to have surpassed our goal!

Write_On 2018 Portland Launch Party

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the beautiful Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. Showroom in NW Portland to launch the 2018 30 Day Write_On Challenge. This sold-out event brought letter-writing enthusiasts of all ages together for an inspiring evening of creativity and authenticity - all in the name of letters! It means so much that we've got an amazing community of letter-writers excited to put pen to paper along with us. From our local event sponsors, to everyone in attendance, thank you all for filling our night with thoughtful conversation, laughter, and passion for handwritten correspondence.

Photos by Christa Fowles.

Inspire your Practice with our Letter-Writing Prompt Deck

The idea of writing 30 letters in just 30 days can be overwhelming... What do I write about? What if I have nothing new to share with my friends or family? What if I've already written to everyone I can think of? Some of the beauty of the 30 letter commitment, is the opportunity to reach outside of your normal circle and take time to write to folks in your life who you may have forgotten, or see every day.

To guide you through the Write_On Challenge, we're excited to offer this new deck of 30 letterpress printed letter-writing prompts to keep writer's block at bay. Printed on Strathmore Impress Wove Pure Cotton paper by Mohawk, the complete deck comes in a letterpress printed and die-cut box.  The entire set was made in the Egg Press studio in Portland, Oregon! The craftsmanship that went into every deck makes them more than just a reference set - they are beautiful to look at and to hold as well. Each card has a unique prompt that can be used year round, anytime you'd like to write a letter.

PromptCards3.jpg

We put a lot of love into creating the decks, and can't wait to hear how they inspire your 30 day challenge and ongoing letter-writing practice throughout the year. 

Stock up before April's Write_On Challenge in the shop here. 

Brush Up on Your Cursive

As our April 30 Day Letter-Writing Challenge draws near, it’s time to freshen up on your penmanship. We’re so excited to share this cursive writing lesson, featured in Illustoria Magazine Issue 6: Symbols and written by Michaela Yee of Little Island Letters. The lesson is great for all ages, breaking cursive up into shapes that you can draw and build on to create words. Grab some pens (Michaela uses Sakura of America brush pens), and start practicing before our 30 Day Challenge kicks off on April 1st!

You can download and print the full lesson plan here.

Keep up with Michaela’s great work for more lettering inspiration on Instagram at @littleislandletters. Remember, developing muscle memory and your own distinct handwritten style take time - keep writing, keep practicing, and Write_On! 

GIVEAWAY: Visit @eggpress on Instagram today to enter a win a copy of Illustoria Magazine, a set of Write_On cards, and 6 Sakura of America Koi Brush Pens to put your new skills to the test! Comment on this post, tagging a friend who you'd write a letter to practice your cursive penmanship for a chance to win!

Giveaway open 3/15-3/19, winner announced on giveaway post on 3/20!

Write_On 2018 Kits & Party Packs are Here!

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for, our 2018 Write_On kits and party packs are here! Take a peek at this year’s designs and exclusive Write_On products to aid in your 30 day writing challenge, and head to the shop to stock up before we sell out of our extremely limited quantities!

The Letter Writing Kit

Gear up for 30 days of letter writing with one of our limited edition 2018 Letter Writer Kits! Including 6 cards and envelopes, stickers, a gel pen, and a letter-writing log sheet, these kits are the perfect way to kick off the challenge.

W_O_product_BLOG.jpg

As Write_On has grown, we’ve been inspired by the outpouring of support and interest from letter writers near and far. In an effort to make this program accessible to as many people as possible, this year, with every kit purchased in the Write_On shop, you’re making it possible for us to donate a kit to someone in need, including educational and under-resourced community programs. Thank you for paying it forward and helping to keep the art of handwritten correspondence alive in our communities! 

The Letter Writer Party Pack

LWPP3-Brighter-BLOG.jpg

The Letter Writer Party Packs are perfect for shops, individuals, and organizations alike, and are packed with useful letter-writing tools, tips, and inspiration to host a Write_On party for 10, plus a few extra gifts that you can enjoy for yourself as the host, or use as party favors.

The DIY Party Pack

W_O_product_group4 BLOG.jpg

For the crafters, creators, and makers, this DIY Party Pack has everything you need to host a letter-writing get together for 10 to kick off the Write_On Challenge. These packs come with a copy of Happy Mail from Hello!Lucky, an assortment of colorful Gelly Roll Moonlight pens, decorative stamps from The Portland Stamp Company, and supplies to get your mail art creativity flowing.

30 Day Letter-Writing Prompts Card Deck

PromptCards-BLOG.jpg

This year, we created a custom Write_On deck of cards, featuring 30 different writing prompts to keep you inspired and motivated throughout the 30 day challenge. Printed on Strathmore Impress Wove Pure Cotton, Light Gray 118C, by Mohawk.

2018 Gusseted Large Canvas Tote

Tote.jpg

Hand screen printed by Egg Press in Portland, Oregon with elements from our 2018 design, this large tote is perfect for hauling your letter-writing supplies, packages, or simply to show your Write_On pride around town. This tote is also featured in the DIY Party Pack.

Stay Connected

Follow along as we share campaign updates online using #Write_On, and visit our new Write_On Facebook group to join the conversation with your fellow letter writers.

2018 Write_On Sponsors

Write_On would not be possible without the generous support from our amazing partners and sponsors, Hello!Lucky, Sakura of America, and Mohawk Papers!

Send Love to Seniors this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a time when we show the ones we love just how much they mean to us. From our partners to our best friends, classmates to coworkers, and family members near and far, this holiday has evolved into a yearly reminder to let the people we love hear it. This year, in addition to showering loved ones with heartfelt notes, sweet treats, and romance, make time to spread that joy beyond your own circle, and join us in sending cards to those who could use an extra smile. We’re talking about elders, a group of well-seasoned, incredible humans who are often forgotten.

Feelings of loneliness and isolation are quite common among elders across the country, especially those living in care facilities, who may be removed from their family and friends. The health risks of prolonged feelings of isolation are said to be equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, affecting mind, body and soul. So, true to the mission of Write_On, we’re spending this month spreading joy, compassion, and human-connection through hand-written correspondence. Want to join us? Read on, then Write_On.

IMG_3133.JPG

Finding Recipients:

Start your process with a little planning. Who will you write to and how will you get your cards into their hands? Chances are, there’s a nursing home or memory care center closer to home than you think. Give them a call and see if they’re set up to accept cards for residents for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to check with them on any special rules (don’t seal envelopes, no glitter, etc.) and the best way to deliver the letters, either via mail or an in-person drop off.

Another option is to send your letters to a third party non-profit like Love for the Elderly, that collects letters year round through their Letters of Love program and sends them to elder care centers around the country. You can learn more about this wonderful organization, which was started by Jacob Cramer at only thirteen years old, here.

If you’d rather get linked up with a specific name of someone to send a letter to directly, visit From the Heart on Facebook to find lists of seniors who have been nominated by their caregivers to receive some extra joy. With their name and mailing address, you can send letters from your mailbox directly to theirs.

Tips & Thought Starters:

Figuring out what to write can feel daunting at first, especially if your recipient is anonymous. Try to keep your letters light in spirit, letting your words trigger smiles. Tell them your favorite love poem, pun, quote, or song. Your favorite story and where you first heard it. Share what’s important to you - your hobbies and passions, but steer clear of hot button topics like politics or religion. If you hit a writer’s block, draw something!

Finally, make sure your cards are legible, but don’t be afraid to decorate, draw and doodle throughout to add some personalization to your notes. Let us know in the comments if you end up taking part in our Valentine’s Day effort to spread the love to elders near and far, and feel free to suggest other resources.

Kickstart Your Letter-writing Resolution with These Tools

Letter-writing has been proven to relieve stress, promote creativity, and bring joy, so what better time to make it a habit than in the new year? Picking up a new habit can be quite a challenge, so we’ve put together some tricks and tips to help make it stick.

Tips & tricks for sticking to your letter-writing practice:

  1. Start simple, and be realistic. If you’re out of the letter-writing habit completely, consider starting with a modest goal like one letter a month, spending 15 minutes a week writing letters, or committing to writing cards for each of your friends’ birthdays this year, instead of just shooting over a text message. It can be easy to hit the ground running with a lofty goal, but motivation can quickly fade. Be realistic about what could be a sustainable routine for you, and easy enough to do without motivation.

  2. Get a buddy. Most things are more fun with a good friend along for the ride. Not only can this make shopping for cards, pens, and the latest USPS stamps more fun, but inviting a buddy to join you in your letter-writing goals can help keep you accountable and motivated along the way.

  3. Commit to a schedule, and stay consistent. The more consistent you can be about your practice, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it for longer. Find a time of day, day of the week, or specific place that works best with your schedule. Maybe it’s 20 minutes every Sunday with a cup of coffee in your favorite armchair, or in the evening on the first day of each new month. If you stick to a consistent schedule, your brain will begin picking up pattern cues, and reminding yourself may become second nature.

  4. Stock up on tools to help keep you organized, and energized about your hobby. Dress for success. Stock up on beautiful and practical items that will excite you in your new devotion to letter-writing. To get you started with this one, we’ve cultivated the perfect collection of items to help you kick off your 2018 commitment.
Write_On_Tools

1. Happy Mail Book by Hello!Lucky

Whether you’re just starting out or are a letter-writing pro, the Happy Mail Book is a fantastic guide for all snail mail crafters. It’s packed full of tips and tricks on how to beef up correspondence skills, and to make your own cards. Excellent for teens, tweens, and DIY lovers alike.

2. Cards from Favorite Stationery Brands

Mix and match your favorite cards to make a custom bundle that suits your needs. Visit a Paper Source or your favorite neighborhood stationery shop to pick up some cards! Spotted above: Egg Press and Hello!Lucky cards.

3. Sakura Gelly Roll Glaze Pens

Every letter-writer needs a trusty set of pens. Look no further than Sakura for a wide range of high-quality, water-resistant colors for all ages. They can write on most paper types so you won’t have to worry about bleed-through or shadowing.

4. Vintage Stamp Pack by Send More Mail

The outside of the envelope is just as important as what’s on the inside. Pick up a few of these vintage stamp packs that contain enough unused vintage postage to mail a letter within the US. The receiver will love the added touch.

5. Juniper Ridge Tea

Letter-writing and drinking tea go hand in hand, so grab your favorite blend to help get the letter-writing juices flowing. Juniper Ridge has a huge selection of 100% natural and 100% delicious tea flavors to choose from, and they’re local to the Bay Area. This one is our personal fave, but we suggest going local when selecting yours!

6. Egg Press Social Preparedness Kit Tray Set

Designed to make sending notes easy, these social preparedness kits are made with high-quality American-made materials. Each kit comes with 4 thank you and 4 blank cards with coordinating envelopes, and a fun colored tray to help any budding letter-writer get started.

7. Ceramic Mug from Rare Device

Pair your favorite tea with a handmade ceramic mug, and you’ve set yourself up for some fantastic letter-writing. Better yet, find a local ceramicist when selecting your mug.

8. Egg Press Social Preparedness Kit Weekly Line-Up

In addition to a place for your daily agenda, this undated fill-in calendar helps you keep up on birthdays, to-dos and notes. Don’t forget to schedule some time to write letters to friends and family!

Write_On in 2018

Make giving back a part of your 2018 resolution

_DSC9582-2.jpg

Is your New Year’s resolution to do more for others? There are so many ways to achieve that: by physically being there for those who need a shoulder, writing letters of comfort and support, or offering financial aid. We’ve created this guide to get you started-

Write For Good

It truly is a win-win. Research shows that letter-writing and receiving promotes physical and mental benefits. It’s the perfect time to pick up that pen and make it a habit, and don’t just stop at friends and family, find resources and inspiration for making human connections beyond your personal network on our Write_On page. More Love Letters is just one of our highlighted non-profits that uses social media to write and mail letters to strangers all over the world who need love and support.

The Power is in the pen!

In 2017, millions of Americans put ink to action in order to amplify their voices. The Ides of Trump encouraged people to speak out, stating "So sharpen your wit, unsheathe your writing implements, and write from the heart". The Women’s March asked its followers to reach out to Senators about specific issues in order to stand up for policy issues that protect our rights. Countless artists and organizations offered up free printable postcards to enable letter-writers and change-makers alike. In a time where social media and technology is the cornerstone of communication, there’s never been more validity in an envelope.

Hello!Lucky has written a craft book that inspires youth to use their creativity to get involved in community service and civic action. Find out more about Be The Change here.

_DSC9448.jpg

Donations

Though giving back doesn’t have to mean opening your wallet, you’ll find endless organizations to pick from if you wish to go that route.

Choosing a charity doesn’t have to be daunting. For example, you can support something you enjoy every day by donating to your public radio system or maybe a specific podcast. You can also visit sites like Give Well for a list of surefire non-profits to donate to.

Before you write a check, we encourage you to do your homework by using resources like Guide Star or Charity Watch to find out where your money is going.

Here’s a list of Charities we love:

In Kind Donations

Looking for ways to help in your hometown and beyond by donating goods? While you’re purging 2017, you might consider dropping supplies and belongings at homeless shelters, relief services, and local schools. Teachers are always in need of basic school supplies, so donating a few things could really help increase opportunities for youth. Most schools receive a surplus of supplies at the beginning of the school year, but run low around this time. Not sure what to donate? Here’s an easy guide.

Alternatively, you can offer your skills in lieu of tangible goods. Online services like Catchafire can help you match your professional background to a relevant cause.

Products that give back

Would you like to be a more conscious consumer? Some of your favorite brands have products that give back to causes you love. At Egg Press, the Goods for Good section donates 100% of the proceeds to organizations that fight for our basic human rights. At Hello!Lucky, “Ginny’s Collection” gives a portion of proceeds to The Nature Conservancy, and donates 100% of proceeds from the Wild Feminist pin to Planned Parenthood, and Stay Woke pin to The ACLU. Toms, Warby Parker, STATE bags, and Patagonia are also notorious for their philanthropic commitment. Look into apps/extensions like Orange Harp and DoneGood to keep you on your toes and to discover sustainable and ethical companies.

_DSC9595.jpg

Have resources or ideas for how we at Write_On can give back? Write a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

Good luck in the New Year, and remember every little bit counts!

Making Time To Write

Letters, and their associated paper, envelope, stamps and ephemera, are so much more than just tools for communication with others. They can also serve as beacons: for slowing down, for noticing, for connecting with our own selves.

Make Time naps.jpg

 

In a world which seems to push us toward such focused doing - and with haste! - letters offer the opportunity to decelerate, to take stock and reflect. Handwriting forces our brains to ease toward the pace of pen on paper. There’s sensory pleasure in the colors and textures of stationery, and something visceral about hunkering over a piece of paper, pen in hand, making marks to an actual page. It’s translation and transformation, as if folding your own self inside that little envelope. Even the art of addressing, sealing, and stamping an envelope can feel like an act of magic: preparing a small parcel for its own disappearing trick into the mailbox - and waiting for it to reappear in a postal box across town, across the country, across the globe. Back in your own mailbox, or in the Dead Letter Office.

 

Letters are tactile. They beg for presence. That is, if we pause long enough to soak it all in. The trick is in carving out the intentional time for it. When we craft that time, letter writing is an act of self care and intention - even when you don’t have a penpal to write to. Sometimes we just have to make that time.

Make Time Sign And Mailbox.JPG

Make Time is a full-day retreat allowing participants to leave the tugs and pulls of daily life at the door, and dedicate purposeful and non-distracted time to any desired project. I started Make Time over two years ago when I came to see just how much the to-do list, the constant beckon of technology, household chores, and work obligations were crowding the center of my life, and I was letting them. I was looking for an antidote, a way to set these pulls aside and create space to dive into creative projects. So now we gather each month to make time, not as a workshop or a class, but to hold space and write permission slips to focus on the endeavors that make us shine. Some show up to work on creative projects. Some come to tackle Ph.D. dissertations, writing projects with hot deadlines, or map travel plans. Our tools include guitars, sewing machines, ink, books, hammocks.

In the summers we gather at Make Time Farm in Beloit, Wisconsin, spreading out across the picnic tables, hay fields, pastures, and hammock to spin fiber, compose music, journal, or just fall asleep reading a good book. In the winter we cozy up inside the creative walls of Madison’s Arts and Literature Laboratory. In all seasons we hold each other accountable to a technology-free morning (your phone goes in the bushel basket), and savor a delicious potluck lunch and conversation. Each Make Time starts in the same way: we launch our special day with a different creative prompt each month.

full table.JPG

 

The morning creative prompts vary from scavenging the farm for found objects to drafting two-sentence short stories to tasting different varieties of apples. It’s all about warming up the senses, tapping into our self-awareness, and escaping the pathways we regularly use in the world. Letter writing appears at least twice a year - the perfect mix of reflection, quiet, and quirk.

Everyone seems to have preconceived notions about writing letters, maybe scarred by those required thank you notes we penned as children, or because there’s no one on the other side of the mailbox. But there are a million ways to write letters that don’t start with “Dear Aunt”, and the Write_On Party Pack helps Make Timers get to that place as quickly and joyfully as possible. In the past we have penned letters to deceased historical figures, drafted our own MacArthur Genius Award biographies, and in January wrote ourselves long list of all the mistakes we hope to make in the year ahead. Sometimes these letters get dropped in the mailbox addressed to Einstein or Nana...and we wonder where they’ll end up. Other times we address them to ourselves and they are squirreled away and mailed back to us months later...like little paper time capsules.

sign in table.JPG

 

This year we used the Write_On Kits in a different way. On a sunny June morning we set out to write the hard letters, messages we needed to write to set our own selves free. Letters that never need to be delivered or read by anyone else. Notes we write with the intention of just letting go. Letters offer us this, the chance to meet a blank page as if it were a conversation, and practice starting that hard conversation that’s stuck or too scary for real life. All without actually meeting the eyes or ears of another person. These types of personal letters offer us the chance to get stranded energy outside of our bodies, sealed up in an envelope, and sent away in a mailbox. Maybe it's addressed back to your own self to read in the future, or maybe it's addressed to no one - but there's power in physically plunking these hard-to-write letters into an actual mailbox and off our own backs.

V Herald.JPG

 

Although we gather only once a month to Make Time, it becomes its own little practice. By setting aside that one full day, it teaches and reminds us to carve out our own quiet spaces and moments throughout the remainder of the month. I also secretly hope some of those quiet moments Make Timers set aside can include sending more good mail, and I think it’s starting to stick. “I've been carrying the Write_On Kit with me every day,” says Jac, a graduate student attending her first Make Time over the summer, “I haven't written any letters yet, but I feel the ideas growing and bubbling. Honestly, I think I want to write more letters to myself as a form of self-care, processing, and documenting this summer in Madison before I travel next year.”

 

Bio: Vanessa Herald is lead chicken wrangler at Make Time Farm in Southern Wisconsin, where she hosts monthly creativity retreats, scribbles endlessly, and makes as much trouble as possible. In the wee hours you can find her handwriting letters, crafting art with vintage typewriters, and committing to a daily creative practice. You can find her on Instagram at MakeTimeFarm

 

Photo Credit: Lauren Rudersdorf of The Leek & The Carrot and Raleigh’s Hillside Farm