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It’s confession time. I’m a terrible pen pal and as with so many things in life, it’s because I mean well.

How to avoid being a bad penpal -

When a letter arrives from one of my penpals I open the envelope (with a letter opener, of course). I then devour the contents while my brain buzzes with excitement at what my reply will say. I’m overwhelmed by discovering new information, finding new connections and putting pen to paper to reply.

Basically, I like to write long letters. The type that fills up quite a number of pages, and as a result take longer to write. While I love the idea of putting aside an evening or afternoon for letter writing. However, plans do change with amazing regularity it seems. And these distractions interfere with letter writing.

So I carry the letter and paper ready for my response around (getting tatty) with me. I fret guiltily about finding time to respond and how long it’s taking me.

Time to consult my toolkit…

I decided it was time to resolve this pesky issue so I consulted my ‘virtual’ toolkit for moving on tasks. I tried to write before I went to bed. Tiredness got in the way most nights. Plans to write in the morning didn’t come off either until I recalled my best technique for attacking evasive tasks.

I find the best approach (but clearly one I don’t always recall) is to break the task into bite-sized pieces and then nibble away day after day until it is done. Whilst¬† I could have opted for writing a paragraph a day I decided to capitalise on the flood of ideas that came to me while reading the letter.

I noted these down on a postcard while reading through the letter. Then I added a few notes to make them flow (it’s all in the planning people!). I assigned myself a section to work on each morning after brushing my teeth but before I did anything else.

Once I got writing and knew what I was covering each day writing my response was easy. The paragraphs flowed in a way they didn’t before.

And your bonus is…

As a bonus, the postcard with the brief notes about my response (a sticky note would work well too) reminds me of what I said in the letter, the questions I answered and the topics I raised.

How quickly do you respond to your penpals? any tips for letter writing procrastinators?

P.S. Our ‘Say Hello‘ bundle is perfect if you’re getting started with letter writing and want something fun to write in.