penpalling tips

Penpal Tip: Jo says...

I have been writing to Jo in South Carolina since June 2017. I appreciate learning from her about living on a farm.

Jo says: Well for a start, don’t begin a penpal relationship if you are not willing to keep up with it. Be sure you have the time and attention to devote to it, otherwise you are wasting someone’s time. Also don’t get in the habit of writing form letters to all your penpal friends. If you insist on writing form letters, make sure to proofread the letter before sending it! And sign your letters always.

Great tips from Jo. I had a pal once who sent form letters and it just made me feel: what is the point? In a form letter, you don’t ask questions about the other person, so you aren’t getting to know them. And for me, the whole point of penpalling is to get to know someone else. I would ask this penpal specific questions and she never responded to them. So although she did give me glimpses into her life with what she shared, it was just a monologue and not a dialogue. So I let her go.

Keep calm and write on!



Penpal Tip: Carmen says...

I have a German penpal, Carmen, and when asked what advice she’d give a person who is starting out in penpalling, she said: Be open to (a penpal) from any country and be honest! That’s what I am and it’s amazing how many people I’ve “met” through the last 35 years. Many people think that penpalling is a boring, old-fashioned hobby but they probably never will understand the gift that it is.

And indeed it is a gift for someone to let you into their lives, through a correspondence relationship. In many cases, you may never meet the person face to face (although with Facetime, Skype and other apps, you may get to talk with them. I have found my corresponding relationships go as deep – and sometimes deeper – than my face-to-face relationships. There’s just something about sharing words on a page that can bond you to a person.

Certainly not every penpal is going to share intimate details of their lives with you, but for the ones who do trust you to share, it is indeed a gift.

Keep calm and write on!