Wednesday, April 24, 2013

National Stationery Week

I know, I know, I haven't blogged for months, but in my defence, I have been really busy. And there's a new book coming soon, so be nice to me.

Anyway, today, rather belatedly, I am writing about National Stationery Week  which is happening this week, and a campaign to get people writing more by hand, organised by the National Literacy Trust, and a stationery company called Uniball. I got involved a couple of weeks ago, when I was asked to come and talk on the radio about the importance of communicating by hand in these techie days of email and texting.

The day started for me incredibly early - which is something quite frankly as a stay at home mum, I am not used to anymore - as I had to be in London for the first interview at 7.30. Conveniently it was a) the Easter holidays and I didn't have to get children out of the door, so they could snore peacefully while I wended my way up to town and b) two out of four of said children had gone on a school trip.

Actually, it was a real treat for me to be up and about that early, getting on a train to town. It reminded me of the good old days when I was a real person, with a proper job, and had no one to worry about much except getting myself to and fro from work. And there is something delicious about early morning in London, and coming into town as the city wakes up.

I am not sure Daniel, my wonderfully efficient host for the day, from 4mediarelations who organised everything, was as entranced with London's morning magic, as this kind of thing probably happens tediously often for him, but he made me very welcome, and within minutes I was sitting in a studio talking to Radio Leicester about the importance of writing by hand. Uniball had done some fascinating research into how and why people still use handwritten notes these days (and the good news is, they still do), which proves that most of us feel more cared for when someone actually bothers to write for us. To help us out (the bulk of the radio interviews were undertaken by Conal Presho from the Literacy Trust), the clever people at 4Media had broken the research down into region, so when we were chatting we could throw in a few pertinent facts. I tried this out on my first interview, and was immediately thrown the curveball that Uniball would say that it was their research, to which I responded, that they'd sponsored it, so the answers were what people actually thought, not what Uniball wanted them to say!

It was a fascinating day, very fast and furious - and Gurdeep, who manned the decks in the radio studio deserved a medal for being so calm, as did Conal who did 26 interviews back to back. I did 7 and found that hard enough. I learnt alot about how radio works, and being a writer stored in my brain lots of useful facts of new jobs for my characters to do (thank you Daniel,  Rachel from Smallman Media and Bekki from Uniball for such useful insights!), and really enjoyed discussing the central message of the day.

Because, writing is still a vital component of what we do every day. The majority of people aren't writers as I am, but every one needs to be able to communicate by hand at some point in their daily life. Far too many people come into the workplace these days without the necessary skills to do so. Part of the vital work the Literacy Trust do is to help them get those skills. It's a cause I believe in passionately, and on a personal level I know that I much prefer getting letters to emails.

So go on, make someone's day, pick up a pen and write them a letter!

To find out more about the valuable work of the National Literacy Trust, go to

In conjunction with this campaign, Uniball are running a storywriting competition here.