Letter Writing Campaign

Remember the feeling of getting a letter in the mail? Not a magazine, not a AAA renewal notice, not even a birthday card. I’m talking an honest to goodness letter, your name and address handwritten in pen on the envelope in the sender’s script.

Recently, I put an offer out on social media to my friends and family. They send me their address, and I promise to type them a personal letter on my 1988 IBM typewriter I may or may not have stolen from work ten years ago. Several people responded enthusiastically, and I was soon writing letters to old friends, strangers, and my first piece of mail ever sent out of the continental United States.

I want to extend that offer. You send your address to jwattenhofer@gmail.com, and I will send you a letter through the United States Postal Service. For real. This goes for anyone, friend, foe, stranger, acquaintance. Anyone.

Why are you sending your address to a complete stranger? Three reasons.

One, it’s a lost art form. We simply don’t allow our writing the room to breath in texts, emails, and social media posts (Even the TL:DRs!). Expressing oneself through correspondence is a tried and true way to develop a personal voice in writing, be it confessional, self deprecating, meandering, or any number of qualities that begin to shine with repetition.

Two, it’s a selfish way to prompt myself to write spontaneously, grow in my ability to express myself in writing, and create an artificial layer of accountability that keeps me at it.

Three, it’s a gimmicky and fun thing to do, and dammit, can’t you just allow yourself that? A stranger is offering to do something whimsical and charming for you. Let him.

I’m ready to go when you are. I’ve bought stamps, envelopes, and a moderately priced ream of paper. All I need is addresses.

Send them to jwattenhofer@gmail.com, DM me on Twitter @jwattenhofer, Facebook DM me. Whatever means you feel most comfortable with.

My workstation.

UPDATE (12/5/16): Since September, I’ve sent out nearly 100 letters to people in over 17 states, 4 countries, and 3 continents. After two phases of address gathering, including one that coincided with a VERY eventful November, the call is out for more.

If you would like a letter, mailed to you by me, a total stranger, I am happy to oblige. Just email me your mailing address (jwattenhofer@gmail.com), and I’ll do the rest.

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