If you're a snail mail lover then InCoWriMo might just be for you! This month long challenge occurs every year during the month of February and it's a fun way to keep the tradition of letter writing alive.
What Is InCoWriMo?
First things first. What is InCoWriMo?
InCoWriMo stands for International Correspondence Writing Month. It's a fun play on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and while NaNoWriMo happens every November, InCoWriMo has been running every February since 2013.
The concept is to hand write (no electronic communication) one piece of correspondence per day throughout the month of February and have it delivered. It can be a letter, a greeting card, a postcard or a note.
You can send your finished piece of correspondence in the mail, drop it in your recipient's mailbox or leave it for a random stranger on a park bench or in a coffee shop (kind of reminds me of Bookcrossing back in the early 2000s where you'd leave books in random places for strangers to find!).
You might not be able to write one piece of correspondence per day and that's ok - as long as you write and deliver 28 pieces (or 29 if it's leap year like it is in 2024!) throughout the month.
Who Do I Write To During InCoWriMo?
28 or 29 days of letter writing might seem daunting if you have no idea who to write to! I did InCoWriMo for the first time in 2023 because I love writing letters and I have a love affair with postage stamps but after sending notes to friends and family I still had quite a few days to fill!
I decided to do a call out on FineLimeDesign's Instagram account and anyone who followed me could request a letter from me (with a few free stationery goodies from the shop thrown in for fun!). I filled up my slots in no time at all and I got to send letters to some lovely regular customers and some new new followers. Nobody was required to reply but I was so surprised by how many lovely letters, cards and photos I got in return!
Here are some suggestions for finding people to write to:
- your family - especially if they live far away
- friends - even if you see or talk to them regularly, it's such a lovely surprise to get a cheery piece of mail instead of flyers and bills
- check out the official InCoWriMo website for their Address Exchange - they run a new one each year **
- put a message out on your social media channels asking if anyone wants some snail mail or wants to exchange addresses
- check out hashtags on Instagram or TikTok like #postcrossing or #penpalswanted
- consider leaving random postcards in public places to brighten somebody's day if you can't find enough people to fill the 28/29 days
Remember, you don't need to write to 28 different people. You can write all 28 letters to the same person if you want!
** Be very careful about leaving your address in online forums, blog posts or social media threads that are public. Anyone will be able to access it!
What Can I Write in My InCoWriMo Letters?
If you're not used to writing letters or have never had a pen pal before, you might be at a bit of a loss for what to write.
First things first - you don't need to write a novel! Start with something small like a postcard or a notecard or greeting card. That way the writing space is small and there's no pressure to fill up a lot of space!
Writing to People You Don't Know
If you're writing to people you don't know like somebody you've connected with in the InCoWriMo Address Exchange, keep it simple. Here are some starting points:
- a bit about where you live - especially if they live somewhere very differet
- what you do to fill your days
- if you're comfortable with it, a bit about your family (no need to get into specifics with somebody you don't know. Saying you have a partner or 2 kids or a parakeet is plenty!)
- a bit about your hobbies or how you like to spend your spare time
- why you like to write letters
- your favourite shows, movies, music, books - what you're readying or watching now
- ask them some questions so they have something to respond to if you're exchanging letters: what it's like where they live, what they do, what their favourite things are etc
** be careful what information you share with somebody you don't know. Don't divulge anything too personal or anything that could potentially jeopardize your safety.
Writing to People You Do Know
If you're writing to people you do know, you can write a much more personal note.
This is a great opportunity to tell somebody important to you why you're so glad they're in your life or to let them know you love them. That's a wonderful gift to be able to give someone and it's a letter they'll probably keep forever!
If you don't want to get that serious, send a postcard instead of a letter. "wish you were here" or "if you were here right now we'd have a glass of wine" or something funny to brighten their day.
You could also send greeting card that says something as simple as "this card made me giggle and I wanted you to have a giggle too!"
These 'You've Got Mail Stickers' are great for decorating your InCoWriMo envelopes and they make a great gift to include in your letters!
Getting Extra with Your Snail Mail
If you want to get a little extra with your mail here are some fun things you can do:
- fun die cut stickers or sheets of stickers
- washi tape samples (wrap some washi tape around a bookmark or a popsicle stick a few times - using a bookmark is a little added bonus - they can use it when they read)
- a few teabags (the individually wrapped kind) in different flavours
- decorate the envelope with doodles or stickers or some collage art
- address the envelope with calligraphy or fun lettering (make sure it's legible though and include the postal code (or zip code)
- use interesting stamps - your local post office usually has a good selection. Canada Post introduces several interesting new stamps every quarter
You can send quite a bit in a standard letter mail envelope and for a little bit more, you can send an oversized or overweight envelope. Just check with your local postal service to find out how much it costs.
Want to Get Some Fun Snail Mail From Me?
I'll be participating in InCoWriMo this year for the second time! And I'm looking for 29 people to send some snail mail goodies too (because 2024 is a leap year!).
Would you like some fun snail mail from me in February? I'm not sure what it will be but here's what I do know:
- I'll be sending out an exclusive sticker to each person who signs up to get mail from me in February
- your mail will come in a cute envelope
- there will probably be some other goodies inside but it might be different for each letter I send
- you do NOT need to reply to me (but if you do, that's so fun!)
- you do NOT need to be participating in InCoWriMo as a whole
If you'd like to get some mail from me, sign up with this google form. I'll be capping it at the first 29 people who sign up and it will be first come, first serve.