When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone?

I’m not talking about an e-mail, a re-tweet or replying to a friend’s status. I mean something you physically wrote and deposited into a mailbox. That’s right – no backspace key, no auto-correct, and you actually have to pay for the stamp. In an age of instant communication, it’s easy to see why the process of sending mail is often compared with a slow-moving gastropod, but there are still reasons not to ditch the handwritten letter. Here are four of them:

It’s harder for people to throw out a letter.

Sure, it probably didn’t take you long to write and send that e-mail – but it won’t take long for your recipients to forget about it either. The reality is that it’s easy to read and junk wireless mail without much thought – even important messages can easily get lost.

We don’t think much about leaving a legacy any more, but have you ever wondered how you will remembered in a hundred years? While digital means of capturing and preserving memories have become popular, few people spend the time and effort to obtain hard copies. As technology changes and in some cases becomes obsolete, this can also mean memories may disappear with them. But by taking time to write letters, you will be preserving a snapshot of who you were to future generations. Not only will a handwritten letter be appreciated for its content, it is also a curiosity, which makes it something your recipient will want to hang on to that much more.

Writing a letter forces you to think beyond efficiency.

The typical typist probably averages about 40 words per minute. Most of those words are inserted without much thought and, unsurprisingly, make little impact. However, there are a growing number of people for whom efficiency is not the bottom line. They appreciate the time and skill that goes into a craft – most will even notice little factors like paper quality and handwriting skill.

Obviously it’s up to you as to how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.  Stationary enthusiasts will sometimes spend hundreds of dollars on unique paper, fountain pens, and interesting stamps. The beauty of such a medium is that no matter how much time and energy you can afford to spend, you can make a letter reflect who you are.

Writing letters will improve your communication skills.

Because you don’t want to make a mess of your letter by scratching out a word, you are forced to think more carefully about what you want to write. If you keep up letter writing, you will find the quality of your communication – at work, in casual conversation, and, yes, even in social media – will also improve. All because you’ve gotten into the habit of thinking about how and why you’re saying something before you say it!

Writing letters will strengthen your relationships.

The fact is that, though we live in a connected society, the quality of those connections is often shallow. Few people will even notice, let alone respond to a standard “Happy Birthday” message written on their Facebook wall. Most people, however, will pin up and re-read even a brief letter several times. You will probably find most recipients respond with letters of their own and you can decide from that point which communications to prioritize.

People notice when you spend the extra time and energy to make them feel appreciated. Whether you’re writing to friends, family, or colleagues, you can be sure that a letter will make them sit up and notice – and isn’t that a reason to go the extra mile?