Correspondence | A Guide To Modern-Day Pen Pals

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Pen pal. When you hear that, do you think of childhood? Of writing a letter, sending it out and desperately waiting for a response from a pen pal? Maybe a response that just never came? It's different when you're an adult. I've been writing letters with people all over the world since I was about 15. It is a truly rewarding activity; but it's one most people really can't wrap their heads around.

How do you get to know someone through a letter? Will our children even be capable of writing a letter? [remember, they're growing up with texting...]

It's really not that difficult: a. Find a pen pal (see below) b. Write to them c. Receive response d. Write back

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How to find and keep a pen pal:

1. Connect with someone that shares a hobby with you. Go online and find a message board or web community for your interest. By doing this, you already know you've got something in common. 2. Offer to go first. 3. Write a decent letter. Don't rush through it because it will show. (see bottom of post for tips on writing a good letter) 4. Use nice paper and a pen you like.

I currently have pen pals in New York City, Washington state, North Carolina, Ecuador, Arizona and Ireland. The oldest pen pal is in their 80s and the youngest is still in high school. And I'd like to pick up a few more. It's fascinating to develop a relationship with someone through letter writing; I think if you try it you'll quickly find that your pen pal will become a very special relationship in your life. I have to tell you if I ever asked one of my pen pals for something, they would do whatever it took to do it for me.

A few places to find a pen pal: 1. The Fountain Pen Network http://www.fountainpennetwork.com 2. Letter Writer's Alliance http://16sparrows.typepad.com/letterwritersalliance/ 3. Send Something http://www.sendsomething.net 4. The Letter Exchange www.letter-exchange.com 5. We Love Snail Mail http://www.welovesnailmail.webs.com

There are more networks out there like this, but these are a few that I participate in and that I like. Do you have a good one? Leave a comment!

Tips for Writing A Good Letter:

  • be positive
  • introduce yourself
  • avoid controversial topics in your first few letters
  • reveal a little bit at a time
  • ask questions to prompt response
  • send a little something extra, like neat stamps, a recipe or stickers

You can read more of my tips for writing a good letter and tips for picking paper and pens here.

Got anything to add? Please leave a comment!