InCoWriMo Anxiety and What To Say To Complete Strangers
I’ve found a person to write to, I bought some stamps, I have a pen, freshly-inked and ready to go.
My paper sits in front of me, as blank as a weird silence in the middle of a conversation.
The secret is that we are ALL awkward. The moment that you become familiar and accepting of that fact, this whole writing-letters-to-absolute-strangers thing becomes much more exciting than anxiety-provoking.
So let’s start there.
The next important thing to understand is that absolutely everyone loves to get letters! Strangers, people you know, children who don’t even know what mail is, everyone loves correspondence. The people on the InCoWriMo address list especially do so because they are excited for the new connection and friendships. They really do want to hear from you!
That’s all fine and good, Betsy, but what do I saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?!
I’m so glad you’ve asked. Here’s some ideas.
If you’ve chosen from the comments section, easy peasy. That section leads off with things about your new friend. Hobbies, whether they’re new to InCoWriMo, places they travel, if they have pets, or kids. All of these subjects, ripe for the picking.
Begin with a question! If there are things you’re curious about, whether it be the area or country they live in, or their interesting name, ASK! This is a good spot to remind you that correspondence is about connection. A question asked is a marvelous way to forge one.
Then, answer a related question yourself. For example,
“Oh my goodness, you live in Tatooine! Are there any cantinas you would suggest for good music and like, the authentic Tatooine experience? There’s this place in Hoth that had the absolute best ski slopes, and this little dive nearby that did the coolest drinks. Literally! There’s so much of this star system I have yet to see. I love to travel!”
Clip something you find interesting from a local newspaper. Chat about it a little bit, talk about what you liked/loathed about it, and how it relates to you or where you live.
Start with a quote that means something to you, and why.
What about a goofy joke that makes you giggle? Print your favorite meme to share!
Write something you’re grateful about.
Tell them something you learned today. If you haven’t learned anything today, try www.google.com, and learn something. Now tell them something you learned today.
Print a photo or pick up a postcard of your favorite spot in your town, share a little background about it.
Fountain pen lover? You know as well as anyone how much we like to geek out about pens and inks! Let that geek flag fly!
Actually, that’s a good idea, full stop. Let that geek flag fly! If you’re passionate about something, that’s a great thing to write about!
I’m sure we’ll revisit this topic again in a few days, but there’s some ideas to go on.
A couple of parting thoughts:
Once you get started, just follow your pen. Kindness, authenticity, and genuine curiosity is everything.
This isn’t a pressured thing. The biggest pressure we’re under is to complete a bit of correspondence every day this month. No problem! What is important is that you spend a little time thinking about someone, and just say hello.
You don’t need to write a trilogy, or a novel, or even a pamphlet. If you are really unsure of what to say, aim for paper napkin-sized conversation. You don’t need to be Tolkien or King. Just be you. What a lucky day it is for everyone who receives your mail.
What other ideas do you have for getting started on a letter?