Instead of texting, write a letter

Handwritten notes have more than sentimental value: They can even make us better writers.

Alia Jeraj

Coming back to school this semester was hard for me. I just got home from visiting a friend on the tropical island of Oahu, and the wind over the Washington Avenue Bridge this morning felt especially brutal. 
 
 
However, the transition back into school was eased by friends who told me they received some of the warm vibes I tried to send to Minnesota by way of postcard.
 
 
I’ve adopted the habit of sending postcards as I travel — a habit I think everyone should have, perhaps even when we’re not traveling. 
 
 
Many of us have read about the benefits of writing by hand, especially as they pertain to memory and processing information. However, I’ve found other benefits to writing letters — and especially postcards.
 
 
Postcards, in one of their most common forms, are 4-by-6-inch pieces of cardstock, slightly more than half of which you can write on. This fixed amount of space provides little room for error or meaningless small talk. Every word counts.
 
 
This makes the actual content you send home to friends much more meaningful than the unlimited sun emojis you can put into text messages. (That said, I do love a good emoji.)
 
 
A postcard’s limited writing space challenges you to write as concisely as possible when reflecting on moments that have impacted you enough to share with others.
 
 
In my experience, both academia and the world outside of it value conciseness. To me, postcards provide one of the most accessible opportunities to train this skill. Plus, the fuzzy feelings of making a friend smile with a handwritten note can make even the coldest Minnesota day a little warmer. 
 
Alia Jeraj welcomes comments at [email protected].