Yes, an actual handwritten letter, with paper and ink. And it was wonderful.

I normally use pen and paper to edit and markup documents, and often to write work documents in their earliest drafts, but this was a little different; I wrote someone a letter in final, sendable, and non-editable (except with a line through) format.

As I was one of the lucky ones who got access to e-mail (yes, at the time that is how it was “officially” spelled) in the early 1990’s at University, and therefore I got very attached to the happy Eudora email sound.  As such, after the mid-1990’s the use of electronic communications (IRC, email, AIM, ICQ, SMS, and on and on) quickly became the default setting in my brain as “how to talk to people.”  As such I, as did everyone between then and now, lost the ability to write with my hands and do it in long-form, personal use cases. I can safely say that before today, and excepting the “happy birthday, bob” written inside a purchased greeting card, I have not written a full letter in at least 15 years.  Until today…

As I was on a long-running, remote conference call this morning that took up my laptop screen and I had a to-do to send a message to this person, I looked around and saw a pad of graph paper on my desk and found one of the few pens in my office and settled on a plan – writing with my hands, not in Penultimate, or Evernote or some other keyboard or stylus-enabled application on my iPad, but with actual paper and ink.

The feeling, once I got past the initial hand cramping after the second line, was that of  freedom as the words flowed so easily from my brain to my hands.  Ideas that were in my head were better written and more coherent than if I had been typing them, and the scratching sound of the pen on the paper kept me keenly aware of the task I was deep inside and therefore remained wholly focused despite the binging and bonging of the plethora of devices I keep by my side throughout the working day.

Some more creative ideas not related to the letter at all popped into my head as I wrote, and those were captured and left alone to ponder, perhaps with paper and pen in hand, at a later date.  In the end, a few pages of text and a whole lot of heart later, I had written my first letter in a very long time. I can safely say it won’t be the last.

Now I just have to figure out where the envelopes and stamps are…