Start off with really quirky or interesting pens. Buy pens based on how ink flows, how they look, how they make you feel, or how the ink coordinates with different styles of photographs or art. Liquid black ink for paper postcards coloured with watercolour art, coloured gel for writing on photographs. A green pen for a postcard whose writing template is printed in red ink.
My favourite pen is a purple metal one engraved with the name ‘Persnickety Jane’. It’s narrow and sleek with gold edges, and smaller and more delicate looking than a standard metal pen, and I just love the feel of it in my hands. The only way I would love it more is if the black ink in it was liquid.
Always buy two copies of favourite postcards. One always inevitably gets sent to someone else. Which is why I no longer have the illustrated map of wales postcard that I absolutely loved when I saw it. And when you travel, add stamps to the initial necessary purchases such as currency from the country you are visiting, you will always end up somewhere near a mailbox, and even more often near postcards, purchasing stamps needs to be a little more intentional.
Write on the front of your postcards. Write on the back. Write on both. There isn’t a rule. As long as you block off a tiny space to cram in the address on the back and leave room for a stamp, you are fine.
Get inspired by mistakes. Don’t worry about typos. Make a typo in ink? Color in, or bold that word and a bunch of others like it. Now it’s artsy and intentional. Cross out mistakes. Make a few more, and cross them out too.
Buy a postcard with a map of the area you are travelling around. Illustrated. Stylized. Topographical. Mark every location you visit with an a, b, c, d, e in the order you visited them and refer to this ‘legend’ when writing your letter on the back, or making notes for a travel journal later, to help you remember where you went, and where and when you saw what or who.
When you travel to a visually-inspiring place, don’t worry about not being a photographer. Somewhere out there, a photographer will have taken your perfect photo of it. Taking the time to search out a postcard of that location is worth it.
Cooks and gardeners: Keep a travel recipe box full of the local and traditional recipes that you can often find printed on postcards, and purchase postcards that identify garden, wildflower, and plant species, for inspiration at home.
Write a letter detailing your travels over five different postcards. Send them to a friend. Send them all from different mailboxes, or in the wrong order. Imagine receiving postcard four-of-five, and then receiving two-of five, a few days or a few weeks later. It’s giving someone the gift of anticipation.
What type of writing encompasses your latest travels? Is it a collection of moments that you can connect to various places on a map? Or is it one long adventure that needs to be detailed over the backs of three or four postcards that show the beautiful scenery that you are trying to describe in the letter?
Have you ever tried to describe a goanna when you’ve never seen one before or didn’t even know they existed? When one walked within a few feet of me in a mine mess in Australia, in all its eight-foot long glory, looking like a lizard with claws like a dog, I bought a postcard of the exact one I saw to show everyone back at home.
Postmarks are and can be part of making postcards artful, or special to someone. Give someone the gift of impossibility. Where else could they get a postcard outlining a map of Guernsey Island, and postmarked in France, for example, unless it’s from you, written and created during your travelling. How amazing, especially if you are travelling to someone’s hometown, or somewhere else that holds great sentiment for a friend.
What about playing tourist in a town or city you know well? Who says you have to send someone a postcard from somewhere overseas, not all of your friends have visited the city where you live, unless you live in Guernsey or Iceland, population sixty-thousand and three-hundred thousand, respectively. We all have reasons we love our tiny little hometowns or cities, they must be outlined in postcards somewhere.
I have this idea I’d like to do too. Have postcards printed of me mailing postcards into the most interesting mailboxes I’ve seen. Very meta.
Finally, have a special place set aside for postcards. All of them, ones you receive, keep, send, or will send. Mine get stacked on a little corner of the bookshelf in my living room. Why send someone a card, when you could send them a postcard you’ve collected along the way, with a miniature letter written somewhere on it.
That reminds me. I have a postcard to write, for someone who lives a twenty-minute walk away.