52 Weeks, 52 Letters — A 2011 Project

by Katy on December 27, 2010 · 44 comments

Katy and Mara, 1984.

My friend Joanna recently put something on her Facebook page about doing a letter writing challenge for 2011. Longtime readers may recall that I had done a similar challenge back in 2009, although that was to write a single letter. (A seriously non-challenging challenge.) Intrigued, I sent her an e-mail asking for the details of her challenge, here’s what she wrote:

“One piece of “real” mail sent out each week. It can be a letter, a postcard, a care package, a thank you note, handmade art, etc. I’m searching for all of the cards and stationary I have collected over the years and gathering them into one place with pens, envelopes (regular & padded), lots of stamps (.28 & .44), a glue stick, unlined index cards (great for making postcards), and a few USPS Small Flat Rate boxes. Oh, and I’m updating my address book.”

I love this. There’s just something about writing an honest pen on paper letter that’s very centering. It forces you to be in the moment. Present. Focused. No multitasking, just writing.

I am going to write 52 letters in 2011. Not necessarily to 52 different people, and I imagine that many of them will actually live in the same city as I do. I invite you to join this challenge. Write to those you’ve lost contact with and write to those you chat with on a daily basis. Write to your spouse, maybe even your own children.

When I was 16 years old I wrote a letter or postcard every day to my best friend Mara. Yes, she lived one block away, but that was irrelevant. I have no memory of what I wrote, or why I started this, but it was a really fun experience. Tragically, Mara died in her early twenties, but I deeply miss her and wish more than anything that I could send or receive letters with her.

I dedicate this challenge to my friend Mara, whose complicated short life ended in 1992. I can’t write any more letters to her, but I can write to those who are still in my life.

Once a week, for all of 2011.

Do you want to add your blog the 52 Weeks, 52 Letter Project? Please add your blog link below:

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Jude December 27, 2010 at 7:41 pm

What a good idea. I’ve always insisted that my kids write thank you cards, not emails, and I do the same, but it’s been a long time since I’ve written a letter the old-fashioned way.


Emily December 27, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I love snail mail. There is something so genuine and heartfelt about an actual letter. I write to my niece who lives cross country. I may have to take part in this challenge.


Erin Blaise December 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I am going to join you in this challenge!


Jessica Wolk-Stanley December 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm

I’ll do this!


Ellen December 27, 2010 at 9:06 pm

I’ve got three people I write to almost weekly now–a cousin who lost her husband suddenly in the summer, one who is fighting a battle with cancer, and my aunt who has Parkinsons. I say pretty much the same thing to each about my day, or week, or life, but they’re in different cities and I know they appreciate hearing from me. I enjoy staying in touch with them and this is what works for me. I’m on the west coast, a night owl, and often forget to call until too late in someone else’s time zone.


Trish [ modern thrifter ] December 27, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Love it! I’m in.


Tricia Bird December 28, 2010 at 3:34 am

What a wonderful idea. I’ll join you!


Bellen December 28, 2010 at 7:46 am

We have 3 grandkids that live in CT, we live in FL, and we’ve been sending a piece of mail monthly – it’s an effort to keep the connection because using Skype is hard with the different schedules. I also e-mail my 2 sisters and 2 nieces. Now, I’m going to do the 52 pieces of mail for 2011. For less than $20 per year (26 postcards and 26 letters) for postage I can keep in touch in a much more personal way. Thanks for the challenge.


Mamie December 28, 2010 at 7:54 am

I used to love to write and receive letters! My mom and I kept up a substantial correspondence throughout my undergraduate years, and I am so glad to have those letters now that she is gone. Until email and Facebook became so very dominant, I certainly came close to mailing at least one letter/card/package each week to any one of a number of family members and friends.

I would love to join in on the 52 Weeks/52 Letters challenge – thanks for coming up with this, Katy!


Naomi December 28, 2010 at 8:59 am

I’m in! Happy New Year, Katy.


Susan December 28, 2010 at 10:05 am

This sounds like a great challenge. My son is in the Navy and his ship is out to sea for at least 8 months. So I could write him and most of my family live in other states and my grandmother is always saying I need to keep in touch. I will try this challenge.


Lisa December 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

I’m already in! I have about six pen pals that I write to every month. We’ve grown to be old friends during the last ten years or so. Great fun!


Angela@MyYearWithoutSpending December 28, 2010 at 11:38 am

Katy, I just wrote on your FB page- would you believe I already do this? I love mailing cards, letters, and packages, and am known for it in fact. As if it’s an eccentricity or affliction.

Great idea.


Christopher January 1, 2011 at 12:36 am

I already do it to; several letters or postcards a week, often with little enclosures. I sent a post-card to a music colleague (who’s in his 20’s) when I was on vacation, and I think it may have been the only one he’d ever gotten in his life (but he did know to put it on his refrigerator). I also suspect that people think I’m strange for sending postcards & letters.


Pamkenn December 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm

I am a fan of snail mail and like to write the occasional long letter despite the convenience of e-mail,facebook,etc. I will love making this challenge mine this year!


Allison December 28, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I’m in and have been! I took an early out from the PO after 25 years and am a big fan of ‘real mail’. How nice is it to go the mailbox and find something other than a bill or advertisement? I find books of post cards at the Dollar Store (especially the 99¢ Only Store in CA) that are originally $8 or $9. Postcards are easy to write because you don’t have to say so much and usually have great art of some kind on them . A little cheaper (28¢ unless large) if you are watching pennies. If they are bigger they will take a regular letter stamp (44¢). I send about 10 cards or letters a week and yesterday mailed 31 to say Happy New Year to people I don’t usually write to so often. Does that mean I am caught up until, like, say, July, maybe? *lol*


Tina December 29, 2010 at 8:52 am

Good for you to pursue letter writing. It’s such a noble art. I think you’ll get something out of it as will those on the receiving end. You might check out http://www.thingsunsaidproject.wordpress.com. That’s another blog that tries to keep letter writing alive and healthy.

Best Wishes in Your Quest.


psmflowerlady/Tammy December 29, 2010 at 11:56 am

I think I’d like to try this. I have some older relatives and friends who would enjoy getting mail. And Lord knows I’ve got a stash of paper.


ConsciouslyFrugal December 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Thanks to Kathie over at Two Frog Home, I signed up to volunteer with Adopt a Platoon this year, which requires that we write one letter per week to a soldier stationed abroad and send a package every month. Just thought I’d throw that out there, in case you wanted to use your letter writing ways to support a good cause!


Missive Maven December 31, 2010 at 11:03 am

I already write many letters a week, usually at least one a day – it’s my greatest and most rewarding hobby. But I’m delighted to spread the gospel and make it official!


PamelaArts December 31, 2010 at 11:15 am

I already write many letters a week, make and send mailart, postcards, etc but I agree — let’s make it official. I am amazed at how many people love to send and receive mail.


Jackie Flaherty December 31, 2010 at 11:19 am

I’m a big fan of letter writing and am glad to pass this on to inspire others to bring letter writing into their lives.

Letter Writing Super Hero


PostMuse December 31, 2010 at 11:36 am

Like Missive Maven, I write many letters a week, but I’m always thrilled to read about someone else taking up the challenge. In my many years of mail correspondence I’ve come to know many people I now consider dear friends, and even those with whom I’ve only shared one or two bits of correspondence have touched my life in the most positive manner. I wish you all the best on your year of letters.


-b December 31, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I usually write a letter a day, but would be happy to support the project! We need more mail in our lives- both sending and receiving. My friends often tell me how much they love recieving post of all kinds. Though be prepared- most folks won’t write back, but it doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate the mail! Letter writing is like exercise, just start somewhere!
Best of luck!


Tess The Bold Life January 1, 2011 at 8:52 am

I’m in for the 52 letters for this year! I’m going to begin with my 16 year old granddaughter who I’ve been very close too. Lately as she’s nearing 17 she has less interest in spending time with me, speaking on the phone or even texting. Perfectly normal for her age!

I think I’ll be able to get her attention with letters;) I won’t be lost in a sea of texts. What a great idea this is.


Tammy January 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm

In HS, I had 25 penpals….I used to write letters all the time….I still have all the letters I received! Yep, they are in one of those under the bed boxes…..So this will be fun to get back to….I still am in touch with one of my penpals in Norway and it would be great to start sending her letters again….


alison p-h January 3, 2011 at 7:17 am

This is uncanny. My word of the year is “paper” and one of the goals tied to this is to write 52 letters/cards for 2011. I should qualify that I make handmade greeting cards all because of a love of snail mail. I found that making cards took away from my love of keeping in touch, so hence the goal of 52. This is awesome to have this going as it will be great support and motivation as we all know the 52 weeks will fly by. All the best to you all for 2011.


Cheryl January 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

How cool! I had already planned to do this as a resolution and am definitely going to try to write or send 52 pieces of mail this year!


Cathy January 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I love to receive a real letter or card with a personal message inscribed. I have so many letters and postcards that my mother and her sister shared. I am in! I started today with three letters of gratitude to family and friends for their hospitatlity during the holidays.


Jessica January 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I’ll definitely add this to my list of to-do items for 2011! I’ve already got some people picked out for my lucky recipients 🙂


Troy January 4, 2011 at 4:53 am

I like this challenge. I am going to write a letter per week to my family members!


Ceci January 6, 2011 at 7:13 am

I love snail mail! I don’t send much of it now though, so as I join in this challenge, I expect to get some quizzical responses. At the very least I can write to my Grandmother in South Africa like I’ve been meaning to for years. She gets the emails that I send my aunt there, but it’s not the same as sending her something directly.


Elizabeth January 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Ironically I posted something very similar to this on Monday! Great minds obviously think alike. 🙂


sarah / book bound bindery January 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm

i, too, love letter-writing and sending mail. i started my own 52 letter project a couple months ago (i’m going thanksgiving to thanksgiving). three cheers for real mail! 🙂


Teresa January 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I am a snail mail sender….many days mailing 10-15 cards a day….. I have probably given 50 of these away….If you want to work up a giveaway and send them to my blog….will be glad to give another one away and get someone started on their project.



Teresa January 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Forgot to send you my email



Jackie January 25, 2011 at 6:57 am

Katy, you can always write a letter to Mara. You just can’t mail it normally, try writing it and then have a ceremony and burn it to mail it to her in the cosmos.


Katy January 25, 2011 at 9:27 am

Yikes! Not really my style.



Leigh Anne December 19, 2015 at 11:10 pm

Could just write top her, seal it up, and add to your box of letters. It can actually give you some closure


Renee Alam February 5, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Hi.My three children and I are doing a letter project,but we are asking for 2,011 letters for the year so we can learn about others.We have already received around 8 letters but have 40+ people sending in letters soon,so we would love it if you could add our blog to your list….we really need more people to sign up…there are many countries out there that we haven’t heard from yet,so we are looking forward to hearing from people all over. 🙂
Our blog is- http://2011letters.blogspot.com


Vanessa March 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I love this idea! Letter writing was a big part of my teenage years as I traveled and moved a lot. Email has killed letter writing and phone calls! I will submit my blog. Thanks! Happy writing!


kathleen July 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

I’m late, I know, but it is too great of an idea to put off till next year, so I’m jumping in now. (Actually I started in May, but I’m just getting around to linking to the challenge.)

Thanks for the inspiration.



Grace Duke January 2, 2012 at 7:55 am

A year late, but I’m in! Last year my resolution was to send a cards or letters, visit, or call someone for a real chat, each week. I like the definitiveness of this challenge. I’ll link back to this site on my post on resolutions!


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