About a week ago I saw an advert come up in my Facebook feed for something called ‘The Secret Letters Project‘. I very rarely click through to adverts (mainly in the hope that if I don’t encourage them they’ll disappear altogether!), but it’s the holidays, I’m finding myself unoccupied in the evenings due to having no work to complete and I’m always willing to find a new outlet for practising with my fountain pens.
As I clicked through, I discovered a Facebook event page sharing the fact that the project was related to a book launch on the 1st August. The idea is that you write an anonymous letter to a stranger and leave it somewhere that they’ll discover it and, in the process, spread some love around the world.
What a beautiful idea; stationery, sharing the love and the excitement of hiding something for a stranger to find. I printed off the template and sat down to start writing. Complete. Writer’s. Block. I didn’t understand why it was so difficult. I’d written the date, Dear Stranger was already on the page, but I just couldn’t get any further. I looked at a couple of examples posted by others and ‘magpied’ a first sentence. That was all I needed, I was on my way! One letter was finished, quickly followed by another, and another, and before I knew it there were 10 letters sitting in a pile on the arm of my chair. All broadly similar (let’s call them variations on a theme) but I didn’t think that really mattered, they would all be left in different places that the likelihood of two friends finding them in different places was slim.
The next task was to find some little envelopes to put the letters in and write something that encouraged the finder that it really was meant for them to open. I settled on little money envelopes as they would be easier to hide.
I decided to set myself a little challenge and extend the letter writing so that I had 31 letters, one for every day of the month, and I would attempt to hide them in 31 unique places. Obviously this was an occasion for a collection in my bullet journal!
Thinking of 31 different places which were suitable to hide a letter in was pretty taxing! As you can see from the image above, I’ve hidden the first four and I know, from following #secretlettersproject on Instagram, that at least one has been found. I’ve written the finder’s comments in my journal as they filled me with joy. I only hope that each of my letters has a similar impact.
The effects of this project on my personal mental health have been positive too. In the process of writing the letters I noticed that I wasn’t really writing to a stranger; I was really writing to myself, writing what I needed to read to help me through the day. The effect of finding out someone’s reaction when they received my letter was immense – I went to sleep that evening thinking ‘I made someone smile today’. That’s an achievement I’m happy to live with.
Have you ever written a letter to a stranger? Have you ever found a hidden message? What effect did it have on you?