No doubt many are saying “well that’s InCoWriMo done for another year”. Not I, given it is the first year I have participated. For those unfamiliar with this February activity, from the organisers:
InCoWriMo challenges you to hand-write and mail/deliver one letter, card, note or postcard every day during the month of February.
Although my decision to commit to the InCoWriMo (International Correspondence Writing Month) challenge was decidedly last-minute, I’m very pleased I did. There is a lot to be said for the written word, even more so for the hand written word. The extra thought, planning and overall contemplation relating to words committed to the page by hand, seem to make them somehow different than those tapped out in an email, tweet or blog post. There is no select all and delete if the first couple of sentences are wrong (yes, I did restart more than one letter), nor is there backspace for the misspelt or improperly formed letters or words. Having set myself the challenge of no strike-out out corrections, I managed to keep this to only two for the entire month, far better than I expected.
Beyond the enjoyment of writing to those who were on my list, of course the main attraction was putting pen to paper numerous times (well 56 to be precise – see an explanation of this below) over the course of the month. Who knows, perhaps with more notice I may have stocked up on a few new pens, rather than merely new inks.
I can’t help but think in my ideal world, a letter held in the hand of the recipient would somehow mean more than a hastily sent email (likely with typo’s), sitting in a cluttered inbox along with spam, bills and random newsletters, likely to be missed or accidentally deleted. The act of turning the envelope over to check the identity of the sender, tearing it open (perhaps with an exquisite silver letter opener), unfolding the Rhodia paper and smiling at the ink colour and contents on the page. Hopefully an appreciation of the time taken by the sender to think about, and physically craft what is now in the hands of the reader.
The recipients themselves? Hopefully each enjoyed the surprise in their mailbox, and also the words inside those envelopes. Words of thanks, appreciation, love, encouragement, support and idle chatter. Letters went out to friends, family, pen company CEO’s (courtesy of the contact details on the InCoWriMo homepage), a couple of my favourite pen podcasters, fellow bloggers, and Eric Schneider of InCoWriMo, who will receive letter number 28. My initial joke to family members advising they may receive more than one letter because I would run out of friends did indeed eventuate, however lets just say I wanted to write them another one (yes, let’s go with that).
Apart from that spoken of above, by far the most rewarding aspect was my commitment to also write a letter a day to my lovely wife, bringing my tally for the month to 56 letters in all (pleased it wasn’t a leap year). A feat I am very proud to have completed. Obviously I will not go into any details here, though writing to someone you are very close to on a daily basis is quite an enriching experience, and one I highly recommend if you have ever considered anything similar. Daily for a month a little much? My suggestion would be to sit down and write just one letter, and be amazed at what comes to mind – just try it.
So, in summary, the whole InCoWriMo experience was an extremely positive and rewarding experience for me. Will I be doing it again? Absolutely. Will I be embarking on it’s “sister event” NaNoWriMo come November? That, I am not sure of. Do I have a fifty thousand word novel in me? Don’t we all think we do? The question is whether anything worthwhile will come out over the course of the month. Perhaps I should simply put together thirty 1700 word letters with a somewhat cohesive plot!
Contemplating InCoWriMo next year? Do it. You certainly won’t be sorry you did.
- For those interested, J. Herbin Indien Orange, Montblanc Irish Green, and Montblanc Burgundy Red. ↩
- Rhodia No 16 Dot Pad ↩
5 thoughts on “Pens Down – InCoWriMo Reflections”
We all loved every single word written in your letters. I was the most fortunate of all to receive one each and every day, couldn’t me more thankful and grateful for the experience.
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This was a good article. Are you doing it this year? I have decided to give it a go, and would like to drop you a line.
I cannot recommend it highly enough. I have not signed up again this year, however am sure I will do so again in future. I’m always happy to receive a letter from anyone participating (and believe I have a couple headed my way this year), and of course will always reply to anything received. I’d love to hear from you – send me a message through the contact page on the blog and I will reply with further details.