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Ever notice how much biographers can glean about famous people from the letters they’ve sent and received? Take Georgia O’Keeffe, for example. She was a prolific letter writer. Her letters (and there were hundreds of them) read like mini-manifestos, according to biographer Karen Karbo, author of How Georgia Became O’Keeffe.

Let’s run down a side street for a minute

Karen Karbo writes the most clever, entertaining biographies you’ll ever read. So far, her subjects have tended toward strong women like Katherine Hepburn and Coco Chanel. Her books aren’t just informative; they’re instructional. Her hypothesis is that we can all grab a piece of moxie just by studying what made these women successful. Two favorites:

How to Hepburn: Lessons on Living from Kate the Great 

The World According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman

Back to letter writing

O’Keeffe was more interested in expression than she was in punctuation. Her personal correspondence reveals how she forged through life and how she felt about everything from the mundane to the profound. It has always struck me as remarkable that famous people (once they knew they were famous) saved things that could be hauled out later for inspection. But we’ll get to that later. Let’s just say that back in the day, people didn’t have therapists. They wrote letters instead.

That was fine for them, but what about us? Why, when we can dash out e-mails, texts, blog posts, and tweets, would anyone bother with this old-fashioned method of communication?

There’s a whole realm of brain research exploring differences between how we engage with on screen content versus what we read on a printed page. I can only speak from my own experience: when I read a handwritten note or a printed page, it’s seems intensely private and personal.

If you spend most of your day reading screen after screen of content, the idea of opening a handwritten note probably makes your brain tingle with delight. Even if it doesn’t, I doubt you’ve ever thought, “Gee, why didn’t he just send an e-mail.” This deeper personal connection explains why we should keep letter writing alive, especially for certain kinds of communication. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share four types of correspondence that are perfect candidates for a handwritten note.

I love to search for fashion related stationary and cards online. Here are two favorites I found at TheStationeryStudio.com. Let your fashion flag fly, even when you’re sending a note. These are a little pricey for customized stationary, but stay tuned. I may be able to offer a coupon for readers.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.