Watching this TED talk by Hannah Brencher, a single thought struck me: letter writing is an intentional art form.
I have paraphrased some of what she said below and added in my own thoughts.
In the midst of writing Post Marked: Piper’s Reach, at a point where the story has taken a sharp turn, the concept resonated.
When I sit down to write as my character Jude to Ella-Louise (Jodi’s character), there is an intention and a focus. All other distractions must be put aside to write a letter.
As a teenager I wrote long, lengthy missives to friends near and far. Sad to say, the development of the internet has changed that.
Letter writing is not about efficiency, creating pithy comments in 140 characters or less. We are a generation that has learned to become paperless where the best conversations happen on a screen.
In the modern world, pace and superficiality have taken the place of reflection and communion.
I love the conversations I can have with people in real time around the world, regardless of geography or time. Yet I want more.
Letter writing is intentional. It is focused on the recipient. It helps if all other distractions that “demand” our attention are removed: the open browser, the phone pinging with messages.
A letter gives you a reason to wait by the mailbox. It communicates your worth to someone because a person has intentionally and deliberately focused their attention on you.
From this brief five minute talk I picked out 3 important lessons about creativity and art.
1. Art is intentional and deliberate
With intention comes focus and an awareness of your audience. And more importantly, ANYONE can do it.
You don’t need to call yourself an artist to be intentional and deliberate.
Write a letter. Draw a sketch. Take a photo. Record a piece of music.
But do it for someone else. Give it to them or leave it for someone to find.
Check out Lucas Jatoba. In 2011, on his 30th birthday he gave 30 gifts to 30 strangers in recognition of the blessings he has received. Read the news article and see the video here. Makes me tear up every time.
2. Intentional art has a ripple effect
A church minister I know stands at the back of church and shakes people’s hands as they walk out, connecting with them for a brief moment. One reason he does it is the belief that a simple action of a handshake may be the only positive physical interaction they receive all week.
In the same way I make a point of ending my classes with “Have a great day” regardless of the behaviour that lesson. I aim to speak positively into their lives.
In the same way, what effect will your art have on someone? Will it inspire them to reciprocate? Or model your actions and replicate the deliberate intention?
Creativity joins people together in the same way sport brings people together to cheer and applaud.
Our world is broken and we need people to believe in the power of intentional and deliberate acts to heal.
3. With intention comes impact.
Your art may reach one person. It may reach five people. It may ripple out and reach 50, 100, 500 or 1,000. What if it reached one million?
The point is to impact on someone. Even if it’s just ONE person, it has significance and meaning.
I am merely a storyteller. I write fiction and I blog about writing and creativity. My intention is for you to find a way to be creative and bless others.
It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Write someone a letter, today.