Newark Book Festival's letter writing competition has taken on a life of its own as "heartwarming" entries flood in.

Organisers say the competition, which is encouraging people to submit letters they'd written ahead of the three-day festival this summer, has become "a window into people's hearts."

People from across the East Midlands and beyond have entered, with letters including heartfelt tales, confessions, anecdotes and letters to loved ones.

Sara Bullimore, organiser at Newark Book Festival said: "The huge volume of letters we've received has been amazing. It really shows the power of letter writing and the way it can help people. It's been a beautiful form of communication over the centuries so we're delighted that people are getting involved. All together, these letters are a window into people's hearts and imaginations and I'm really grateful for every letter we've been sent.

"Everyone is so connected to their phones and devices these days that letter writing is a lost art form. We've forgotten the beautiful and cathartic power of sitting down and putting pen to paper, so we're hoping that our competition has reignited that spark in people. When you're so used to things being typed, it's been wonderful to read so many incredible stories in ink, and lots of entrants have clearly found it to be a therapeutic and emotional experience.

"Writing is extremely relaxing and there will be plenty of events at Newark Book Festival that will give people the opportunity to take some time for themselves and learn how writing can be a simple tool that can help improve mental wellbeing. Our letter writing competition is already shining a light on the benefits that it can have."

There will be a range of events and workshops at the festival to celebrate the art of writing and letter writing between Friday 12th and Sunday 14th July 2019 as well as its connection to mental health.

For children, an interactive workshop, Create Your Own Happy, will explore different ways to build on happiness and self-esteem. The workshop is recommended for ages 6-13 and their grown ups, and will take place on Sunday 14th July from 11.30am at The National Civil War Centre.

For adults, Writing for Mindfulness 'My Day in Cups of Tea' with Katie Sone will celebrate writing and the positive effects it can have on mental health, and how people can use it as a tool for mindfulness. Katie hosts events across the region through her Write Mindful workshops, which she delivers for people looking to create some me time through writing.

She believes that the process of writing creates a much-needed opportunity for people to focus on their needs and thoughts.

Katie said: "Writing can be a magical and effective tool to help calm the mind. It can help untangle thoughts, declutter and quiet our chattering minds and make sense of things. It can help capture and relive memories too, which is a wonderful thing.

"Mental health and writing are strongly linked. Writing is a non-judgemental friend and a good listener, plus once you start putting writing for mindfulness into practice, it's always there for you. A pen and paper are never far away! For me, writing has helped through times of darkness and of grief so I write most mornings to calm my mind, which is often like a chattering child when I wake up.

"By putting pen to paper, we can all open up our minds and learn to bring a sense of peace into our otherwise busy lives."

Book lovers and aspiring writers can now book their places for dozens of events taking place Friday 12th to Sunday 14th July 2019 featuring critically acclaimed authors such as Alison Moore, Diana Evans, Mahsuda Snaith and Gavin Extence. The theme for this year's festival is Home and Away, with authors, illustrators and poets exploring international and local links as well as the magic of journeys, discovery and unique experiences.

The Letters Page - The Lost Art of Letter Writing will give visitors the chance to fall in love with letters again in this interactive workshop at Carriages Cafe, Newark Castle Train Station on Friday 12th July from 2pm. Recognising the popularity of letter writing in the community, a Letter Writing Group will be established after Newark Book Festival to create a space in which people can continue to take part in letter writing to combat loneliness through pen palling.

The Buttermarket will also feature a postcard wall, and festival organisers are encouraging visitors from near and far to send in a postcard from their travels to go on the wall.

Anyone interested in entering the letter writing competition has until Saturday 1st June to send in a handwritten letter on any subject, as long as the entry is a maximum of four pages long. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

For the full festival line up and further details for the letter writing competition, visit www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk or visit the Newark Book Festival pop-up stall in The Buttermarket, Newark.