navigating the addresses – part 1

One of the great things about being a human being is our nearly unlimited capacity for discovery, adventure, and storytelling.

This perfect combination seems to feed our imagination, widen our horizons and bring us closer together at the same time. There’s something in being able to venture out our front door and return at the end of the day filled with thoughts, emotions and ideas that we want to share with others.

Whether it’s exploring a local shop we’ve never been in, setting out across a continent or peering into a recipe book; we press forward fired by the possibility of being surprised by the unexpected. The chance of coming across a strange and wonderful thing not part of our ordinary life. Something that inspires us to be better, embrace the richness of life and pass it on to others.


Every once in a while we stumble across a ridge that offers us a nearly unlimited view. It literally takes our breath away to look out and realize that every direction is an unexplored adventure. The immensity is overwhelming and exhilarating.

Looking at this years list of participants is a bit like that. More than a bit actually.

Your mind goes a bit numb as you realize just how many hills and trees are out there. And unless you’re just pausing on your way to a definite somewhere, it’s hard to know which direction to head.

I remember first coming across this project and thinking it was like some strange land already peopled by others. How do I introduce myself? Where do I start? Where’s the best place to go and how do I get there?

Fortunately that’s what this post is about.

You may have noticed the picture at the top of our front page? It’s a compass.

One of the most interesting things about a compass is it never tells you where to go. Instead it tells you where you’re headed.

Combine this with a chart and a plan and you can get almost anywhere you want.

If you think about it, the chart is already there. Write a letter to someone once a day for the month of February. Not very complicated and lots of room to manoeuver. We’re supposing you have all the necessaries for this adventure, pens, paper, envelopes and stamps. Pretty simple.

The next thing is the plan. Where do you want to go and what do you want to see? Personally I’ve never seen Kamchatka nor have I seen the local flower shows. Mostly it’s a case of opportunity, planning and interest.

Sometimes I like to stay close to home and get to know my back yard and daily surroundings better. Other times I decide to venture somewhere completely unknown.

And how does this relate to the address list you ask?

Incowrimo has always been a platform for exploring and adventure. Nobody says where those letters are supposed to go.

It offers unlimited connections around the globe and doesn’t mind if you want to write your next door neighbour.

Deciding for yourself what you want to do is probably the hardest and most rewarding part of the project. Spending a bit of time coming up with a plan is the most valuable thing you can do.

The fact that it’s  -international-  correspondence writing month gives you incredible opportunity not to mention a great deal of scope. Decide who you want to write. Not by name, but who will make your list.

People with only the letter B in their name? People who live in countries with mountains by the sea? Someone who lives in the same state or region or maybe someone who lives in a region like yours on the other side of the planet?

Maybe you’ll write someone who lives in a place find impossible to imagine no matter how hard you try. Write to someone living in the town your hero comes from. Somewhere you might want to live one day. There are a lot of possibilities.

After that, it’s only a matter of finding the right names and you’re off.

Help in searching for names comes with part 2 tomorrow.


  1. Reading this, I’m getting really excited for February to start.


  2. radellaf says:

    Please, pretty please, offer the list in xlsx or csv so we can _sort_ and not just search this year


    • Radelaff — We feel your pain, we sometimes wish we had one too (emoticon sad/confused face). A great deal of thought and several years of discussion have gone into this question here and on other writing blogs and lists. Having a searchable only version is a way of balancing the needs of several complex and often opposing ideas about how to deal with addresses. Foremost is that this is at heart a hand made pen and paper endeavour; and we are trying to keep the focus away from technology that pushes much past a rolodex, card catalogues, jotting and notebooks with pages you can write on in pencil. There actually are some pretty fascinating neurological points of view on this not to mention that as the postal system morphs into an online trinket store we feel it incredibly important to keep the skills involved in handwritten correspondence viable and alive. Otherwise we would have created Facebook but this is immensely much more rewarding and fun (emoticon happy).


      • radellaf says:

        I assumed it was a technological problem of creating the file. The only objection I ever heard was that if it could be downloaded, addresses wouldn’t disappear after Feb. But since the text will be copied to offline files, there’s no real difference.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Bridget says:

    Kudos to all who have worked so hard to put the list together and keep it updated – no small feat!


  4. I like scrolling through the addresses, and then use ctrl+f to find a word in an address or name. Last year, among the words I looked up were trees. I’ll choose different words this time. I enjoy the freedom just to pick someone from the address, rather than based on hobbies/interests. Unlikely penfriendships can occur and have done. I enjoy correspondence with people I might not have chosen otherwise. I do have some penfriends where letters have started over common interests.

    It is important to remember that not everyone you meet, be it in letters or in the street/workplace/.. will become a friend. Not every letter received will yield long lasting penfriendship. This goes for attempts at penfriendship on penpal websites where people have profiles listing interests and hobbies, as well as here where you start with a blank slate.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sibylla says:

    Wonderful work, our loooong list of addresses! Thank you for so much work on your part! Is there a short it I can use on my iPad or iPhone, too? I don’t use computers, so I am scrolling, scroling…..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. whiz3 says:

    I haven’t put my address onto any list. Where do I do this? Last time I wrote incowrimo I lived at different address and was supplied the list from a friend who was already a member.


    • welcome, it’s really easy! if you’d like to participate by adding your name to the list of people who love to receive handwritten letters during incowrimo-2019 (and the remainder of the year & next year to boot if you like) you just need to pop over to the join in page below and fill in your details. A short time after, you’ll find your name added to the address book :)


  7. Eric A. Silver says:

    Navigating the addresses is easy. Finding the address list not so much


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