I have to admit that I’m not one who normally gets hooked on TV shows. Most of what I see on American television is low brow and banal. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Well, that changed for me late last year when I somehow got sucked into PBS’s Masterpiece Classic – Downton Abbey. It is a drama set in early 1900′s England. There are many elements to capture a viewer, but there is one common element seen in nearly every episode that may have escaped many viewers. At least twice a day, the mail – post – is delivered. Because Downton is a drama, much of the post contains dramatic messages. One thing that can be inferred is that in that Edwardian era, a lot of time is spent writing correspondence.
In last week’s article, I approached the topic of pleasure writing, the writing we do for ourselves. This got me thinking about the folks at Downton Abbey and how important writing letters was for everyone. It won’t be news to anyone, I suspect, that no one writes letters anymore. Even me dear old Mum uses email. I’m thinking maybe we need to return to the old ways now and then.
When I wrote about pleasure writing, I didn’t include what may be a very worthy form of writing: The good, old-fashioned, hand written correspondence. Think about it. when was the last time you wrote a letter to someone, put it in an envelope and took it to the post office? For me, I’m pretty sure it was when I was told I had to write a thank-you letter to Aunt Smellby to thank her for the sweater I had received at Christmas.
What can letter writing do for a freelance writer? I guess that’s a fair question. The answer is, I’m not sure. I think that maybe the act of doing something so kind (Do you remember what it feels like to receive a personal correspondence?) may pay the dividends that come with an act of kindness. You feel pretty good that you brightened someone’s day and that feel-good feeling may be the driving force behind your next article. As well, letter writing is writing without a net. No backspace keys here, folks. It forces you to really think about what it is that you want to say and how you are going to say it. Are those worthy skills to hone as a freelance writer? I think so.
Even if there are no profound benefits for you as a freelance writer, what about the idea of returning to a simpler time, even for a short while? Wouldn’t it feel great to do something so quaint and simple?
Have I gone completely daft or is this a good idea? Do you think you may take the time to write a letter to an old friend or a family member?