Thursday, 25 April 2013

how to be a great pen pal

I'm so excited to tell you that to date we've had over 90 sign-ups for the creative pen pals project. If you haven't signed-up yet, but would like to join us for this awesome snail-mail revolution, you have until end of day Friday to do so.

Since launching this initiative, I've been giving a lot of thought to what, how much and how often I'll be writing to my pen pal as well as how to write interestingly and keep the letter-writing going. As it is becoming a bit of a lost art, I thought I'd cover off a few key areas about being a great pen pal.

What should I write in my first (introductory) letter?
You'll want to get to know a little bit about your pen pal and they will want to learn about you too! Start off your first couple of letters with information that includes where you're from, how old you are, if you have children, what you like to do in your spare time, where you work etc.

Tell them your story. Tell them who you are and you'll find that your pen pal will open up to you more.

"Tell them who YOU are"

How often should I write?
Well, this is really going to depend on how quickly your pen pal writes back to you.

As a general rule, I wouldn't leave responding to a letter more than two weeks if it's someone in the same country as you and one week if they're an international pen-friend. But ultimately if you respond within a week (and factor in mail delivery times), then it will be 1-2 weeks before you get a response.

The quicker you and your pen pal write (and more importantly, SEND) letters to each other, the sooner you'll be running to the letter box in anticipation of receiving pretty mail.

"you'll be running to the letter box in anticipation of receiving pretty mail"

What should I write about?
Let's start with what NOT to write about. Religion, politics and other similar strong views should be kept out of this type of communication. You don't want to risk offending your mail-mate.

Once you've gotten the introductions out of the way, you should be able to find common topics that interest you both. That shouldn't be too difficult if you've joined the Creative Pen Pals project as you will be matched up with someone who has similar interests as you.

It's nice to write about yourself, but don't forget to ask questions about your pen pal. That way it will keep the letter-writing and responding going rather than having to find new topics to start off your letters with - but that is ok to do too.

"Don't forget to ask questions about your pen pal"

How much should I write?
Don't feel as though you have to write a short novel each time you write. If you are feeling pressured by time and don't have enough time to write as much as you'd like, then just write a page and tell your pen pal what's currently taking up your time.  They'll appreciate a short response much more than no response!

When you have time on your side, you can sit down and write a few pages. Keep in mind that the reading part should be as enjoyable as the writing part. If you know that your pen pal is currently time-poor, they're probably not going to have time to read 10 pages of what you got up to on the weekend.

"They'll appreciate a short response much more than no response!"

Lastly, capture that feeling of opening your letterbox and finding a gorgeous, colourful and wordy treat that's NOT a bill. Now replicate that and make sure you are really proud of what you send out. Add a little personality to your envelope with some stickers, stamps or doodles. No doubt your pen pal will squeal with delight when they receive it. Check out this post for some inspiration.


  1. I'm very excited about the pen pal swap. I tried to follow your blog with. Blog login so I didn't miss out on anything but it said it doesn't exist, I though since that is one of the contenders to switch to from google reader you might want to know

    1. Thanks Sarah. I've now added a "follow me on BlogLovin" button to the side bar. That should help :)


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