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Most consider the act of writing letters a dated activity. With the ease of email - and the immediacy of social media - there doesn't seem to be a need for snail mail anymore. However, just because there isn't a need does't mean we shouldn't embrace this traditional communication device.

There's a permanence to snail mail that we can't find in the digital realm. Sure, pixels on a screen can get a message across, but they don't fill the heart with joy like the sight of an addressed envelope. We all groan at the thought of an overflowing inbox, but delight in the excitement of receiving a parcel.

Snail mail is synonymous with sentimentality. Writing a letter or putting together a great parcel requires a lot of time and effort. People cherish snail mail for years. Think of all the famous authors and illustrators who have letters on display in museums or in published anthologies (Kerouac, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Gorey - to name a few). It's time to buy a new set of pens and remind yourself how to write by hand.

Some snail mail ideas to get you away from the computer and to the post office:

- Send a "just because" letter to your best friend. Make a cup of coffee, sit outside, and describe your surroundings and inner turmoil about life in the most flowery language possible.

- Write a love letter and spritz it with perfume. (Think of "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from Grease.)

- Recently received a gift? Write an old fashioned thank you note to show your appreciation.

- Send co-workers a postcard from your vacation destination. Sure, they'll be bitter that you're sitting on a beach while they're at the office, but at least you can say that you got them something.

- Join an online community and send mail to strangers. Try postcrossing.com for a unique postcard experience or swap-bot.com if you want more selection.

- Buy a media mailer and send a friend or sibling a mixed CD. Get creative with the theme.

- Get inspiration from a TV show or a song and put together a great parcel. Make a Friends themed box with one item for each character. Or make your own Zombie Survival Kit.

Still not convinced? Experience the joy of letter writing through fictional characters. Check out one (or all) of these epistolary novels:

- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

- The Color Purple by Alice Walker

- Carrie by Stephen King

- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Maria Vicente is a literary agent intern living in Ottawa, Canada. She likes coffee, books, snail mail, and magic. You can find her on Twitter (@MsMariaVicente) or check out her website (mariavicente.com)


Maria Vicente's picture

Maria Vicente

Maria Vicente is an Associate Agent at P.S. Literary Agency. She is also the Wicked Witch of the East Coast.