Writing Skills that Entrepreneurs and Santa Would Crave?

Would you feel more comfortable crafting a handwritten letter or sending a quick text? Most likely you answered “text” because most of us feel a bit out of practice when it comes to writing by hand. In fact, our writing skills (by hand or keyboard) has been declining each generation! A perfect example of this is the tradition of writing letters to Santa Claus at this time of year.

Good kids (well, all kids) are still writing their wish list to Santa at the North Pole. But over time, people haven’t been writing as well as they used to. When was the last time you picked up a pen and wrote a complete letter to someone? How confident are you in your grammar and spelling each time you compose an email for work?

If you’re feeling a bit shaky about your writing skills, you aren’t alone. Entrepreneurs have noticed, and they’re doing something about it. Whether you need to write a letter to Santa or need some help with business writing, you can count on your own secret elf to help you out with this task. What is this secret elf… well, tech?

I’ll answer that in a bit. First, we need to understand how we got here – why the marketplace created a need for technology to assist us with writing in the first place.

Writing Skills and the Impact of Technology

These days, our writing skills are at the point where we may need help to write our letters. Blame technology for the decline in our writing. (And then thank technology for saving us, ironically.) Like dinosaurs that couldn’t adapt to change, we stopped seeing the value of composition when we didn’t need to grip a pen in hand.

Why write a note when you can send a text or voice message? Technology is so much more convenient and painless. Back when we had to write pages and pages of sentences by hand, you could get callouses on your fingers just from holding your pen for hours. And back then, you could get a high from sniffing liquid whiteout when painting over your mistakes.

Those were the days when writing was a workout, you double checked your spelling, and you could identify verbs and nouns. Now we spend more time rapid firing messages with abbreviated words on our apps, LOL. (LOL is laugh out loud, if you still like to handwrite things.)

A study showed just how much times have changed. The study found that these days, college students are spending more time on social media now than reading. When it comes to assignments, they are graded on the content of what they write, not their writing ability!

In fact, a study found that “Teachers have been reporting anecdotally that even compared to five years ago, many are seeing declines in vocabulary, grammar, writing, and analysis.” Good writing skills are on their way to extinction.

Despite this trend with writing skills, people still treasure a handwritten message. Think about your reaction to a hand scrawled message on a birthday card. Or a quickly jotted note from a loved one. There is something about handwriting that technology just can’t replace.

The Skills Behind Writing a Handwritten Letter

It’s been a long time since most of us have seen something as rare as a handwritten letter. A survey of Americans found that “33 percent say they haven’t gotten a handwritten note in more than a year,” and another survey said that “fifteen percent of Americans say they haven’t written a note to someone in more than five years.”

Think of how wonderful it would be to receive a handwritten note. Years ago, people cherished handwritten letters a lot more, and it was a way to communicate messages that you could keep someplace safe and look back at them time and time again. The early letters to Santa is one example of this way to pass on advice.

Photo credit: Jonathan Borba

That’s right – pass on advice, not send Santa a list of toys. The tradition of writing letters to Santa has a long history that has evolved a lot over time. At first, the letters weren’t about getting toys. Over a century ago, Santa was writing letters of advice to children. He would comment on their past behaviour over the year and how they could improve for the coming year! Santa (well, the parents) would leave these letters near the fireplace.

As it became more common to buy stamps in the 1860s, American children started to send letters to Santa at the North Pole, where they believed he lived and worked. The tradition evolved to what it is today: children who are good ask for toys that they would like to see under the tree at Christmas.

Technology has also evolved. If you don’t know how to write a letter – or struggle with letter writing in general – you can still be a competent writer.

Websites such as emailsanta.com make the writing process super easy for those who want to write a basic letter to Santa. You choose a stamp, go to a webpage with the skeletal structure of a letter, and fill in all the blanks. And just like that, presto, your letter to Santa is complete! You will also instantly get an answer back.

You could say that letter writing programs such as this one is contributing to the decline in writing skills because the process has become so automated. But you could also say that technology can help with teaching writing skills.

At the marthastewart.com site, they teach you how to write a letter to Santa Claus. It even has instructions on how to get the letter sent back to the child’s home. When the child reads the letter, they will find a personalized answer from Santa himself. The secret of course, is the additional instructions to the parent on how they can write the reply as Santa before the letter is returned.

I don’t remember writing to Santa as a child, but I’m sure back then I would have been impressed that he took the time to write to me, one kid out of millions. I was already content that he could spare a few seconds on Christmas Eve to drop into my home and fill my stockings with gifts.

With all this technology, what will happen to letter writing in the future? Will children be sending voice messages or video messages to Santa in a couple centuries?

Photo credit: Valentin Petkov

Are Shortcuts to Writing the Solution to Writing Skills?

Chances are written messages will still be around for a while. Entrepreneurs are constantly devising new ways to answer our desires for personalized content and bridge the writing skills gap.

If your handwriting looks like a chicken scratched some random ink on the page, digital handwriting services are here to rescue you. Marketing research has found that customers are more likely to read a handwritten message. Just think of the last time you held a pile of mail in your hand and you saw handwritten words on an envelope. Weren’t you assuming a friend or family member had written to you?

I was surprised when one such envelope with handwriting on it turned out to be a marketing campaign from some company I hadn’t even heard of. However, I’ll give them credit for piquing my interest for a good minute while I opened the envelope to see what was inside.

Thanks to technology, we don’t need to hire a human to handwrite each letter or note to a potential customer. We’ve got automated bulk mail machines to send the same letter to hundreds of people at the same time. The handwritten text just adds that extra personal touch.

With these services, it is even possible to get these digital handwriting services to “handwrite” your annual Christmas letter to your family.

Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to solve problems. Writing skills may be on the decline generation after generation, but AI (artificial intelligence) could save you.

A site such as copy.ai is geared toward brainstorming the copy for digital agencies, copywriters, and ecommerce brands. There’s no excuse for writer’s block anymore. Not when a website can help you with copy creation for Facebook, your blog, Instagram, and more. There’s a fee for the service, of course, but maybe now you won’t need to pay for writing courses to improve your skills.

I wonder what people from two centuries ago would say about our writing skills today. Would parents have preferred to use technology to handwrite their Santa letters to their children?

Summary

Handwritten letters seem to be a lost art. Nowadays, people’s writing skills aren’t as good as they used to be.

However, entrepreneurs and businesses have found a way to solve the writing skills gap. A letter to Santa could be composed using technology you find online. At the office, you can employ the services of a website to write your copy for you. Despite these changes, one thing remains the same.

People still value receiving a handwritten note. Perhaps you could handwrite a short letter to a loved one this Christmas and see what happens.

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