The ugly hidden underbelly of InCoWriMo expectations – and how to avoid them.
Sorry to say but one of the more common problems people seem to have with InCoWrimo is the “but I’ve written all these letters and I haven’t yet received any mail” complaint.
This doesn’t mean you won’t get any mail when you participate, it’s just that it might not turn out like you planned it in your head. People do like you, and if you write you’re pretty sure of getting a reply but a little bit of explanation may be of some help.
Basically, a fair number of people don’t really notice that the challenge is to ..’write one letter a day, every day for the month of February’.
There exists a very complex and tricky part of our mind that’s fully capable of turning this into ..’get a letter every day for the month of February (and a couple of weeks more because I deserve it).
And trust me, no one is immune to this, no matter how many times they’ve been a participant.
Sobbing doesn’t help. Nor does tidying up your writing desk for the umpteenth time while muttering under your breath about the march to the mailbox. Only to find that the letter that should have arrived by now ..hasn’t; and it had better show up soon ..or else.
We don’t want to scare people away, nor wish ill to anyone who finds themselves in this predicament. In fact it’s why we fuss and worry over this site so that no one need fall prey to unreasonable expectations.
If you’re new to InCoWriMo, there are a few simple things you might want to keep in mind. Remember, knowledge is power.
First of all is to remember that it is ‘correspondence writing month’. Chances are that you will get mail, but there’s a lot that will influence how this happens.
There are certain people in life who possess a special genius in statistical analysis, and can easily lay out all the pathways and probabilities. But we unfortunately, are not adepts in this art.
However, we do possess some very valuable empirical knowledge that once understood can avoid disappointing InCoWriMo expectations.
- Not everyone who writes a letter will address it to a participant in this years event. As mentioned elsewhere in another post; some people find February a great time to thank distant relatives for that glass punch-bowl they received years ago as a gift. Others like to get in touch with long-lost friends. Or even send condolences to their cell-phone carrier for not doing so well this year. This means a lot of letters make their way somewhere else.
- Some letters can take up to six weeks or more to make it to their destination. This means that with another six weeks turn-around to get to you, it could be mid-May or even later before you see a reply. Do not! ..we repeat ..Do not let this stop you! Many an amazing and worthwhile friendship has started this way.
- We have found most participants to be especially friendly and extremely good at replying to a letter. However, they may have arbitrarily planned who they will be writing to by the beginning of the month. That means that unless they’re writing two letters a day, it might be a few extra days before they respond to yours.
- Personally we have had many letters arrive from March through to September, which is why so many participants end up writing all year round.
- Sometimes postal problems can delay your precious replies. There have been floods, cyclones, snowstorms, forest-fires and other unexpected delays. Sometimes letters get damaged. Shredded, soaked, ignored and more. It can take ages to receive a reply. Fortunately this is pretty rare, but it has happened.
- Sending even a mildly interesting letter is likely to get a response. Simply packing up old bills and flyers in the mail is unlikely to elicit the replies you would like. There are suggestions on creating an interesting letter elsewhere on the web and on this site.
- Patience is a virtue. This last one is a gift of gold.
For some reason, people keep returning to this event, and we can let you in on some hidden secrets that they know.
- You might find that the real gift of InCoWriMo is in the unexplored adventure of just learning how to write a good letter. Or discovering and expressing some unknown part of yourself.
- It could be the new experience and freedom of sending something off into the world to let fortune and serendipity work their magic.
- It could be that one written letter, as mundane as it seems to you, touches your recipients life in a unique way. Or the letter in reply that encourages you to continue to write.
- And then there’s all the unknown inks, paper, penmanship and panache you’re likely to encounter on the way.
In short, this is the project that’s done with a smile on its face. Better to dispense with all your luggage and expectations. Grab a notebook, ink and pen. Garner a few stamps and maybe some washi tape. Find some stickers, wax seals and a place to write. And set sail on the vast seas of vintage social media.