Even before the tech inundation of email, text messaging, and the like, we enjoyed writing letters, posting them at the post box, and waiting anxiously for word back from the person we’d sent the letter to. When we did, it was like Christmas all over again! At least, I always have. Finding something to write about isn’t a problem for me but that’s not true for many. I hear a lot of “I’d love to write a letter but I don’t know what to say!” If that’s all that’s stopping you from penning a letter, I can help you with that!
Links on this website may or may not be affiliate links and as such, I may receive small compensation at no extra expense to you.[iconheading type=”h2″ style=”fa fa-envelope-o” color=”#ef43b0″]Why We Write Letters[/iconheading]
Let’s back up a second and think about why we even go about writing letters. We write to stay in touch, tell others of our opinions, make new friends, reach goals, practice our own handwriting. Maybe these aren’t why you write, but they are a few of the reasons why I write letters.
We also write because it is too easy to feel disengaged and isolated, even if we live within two feet of someone. It brings people closer together and gives both the sender and receiver a sense of intimacy that email or a phone call lacks.
And we write because sometimes it’s the right thing to do. Our thoughts are muddied and we need time to clarify them. Or time has put so much distance between people who a letter is one of the only ways to rebreak the ice.
So, regardless of why we do it, we still need to actually write them.[iconheading type=”h2″ style=”fa fa-pencil” color=”#ef43b0″]My Kids’ Letter Writing Formula[/iconheading]
Of course, the perfect letter is the one you send but that doesn’t help you when you’re up against a blank piece of paper with no idea of what to put on it.
Did I mention that writing letters can be tough sometimes?
My kids thought so too. To fix that I came up with a template of sorts for them to follow when writing letters to their Great-greats or other relatives. Here’s what they did:
- Start with Dear (insert name),
- Thank them for the letter received (if they sent one)
- Answer any questions in the last missive (if there were any)
- Then add all the following:
- one thing learned at school
- one event that happened to them personally between that moment and when they wrote their last letter
- one question for the recipient
- End with Love, (name)
This formula worked spectacularly for the four years my boys wrote to their Great-greats. When my grandparents passed away, I received all the letters back and they filled a box to overflowing. Of course, I realize you aren’t a child and that particular “formula” might not work for you.[iconheading type=”h2″ style=”fa fa-pencil” color=”#ef43b0″]My Letter Writing Formula[/iconheading]
It might help you to know that I had to create a template for myself because the blank page stared up at me at one point (and sometimes still does).
Since, most of my letters are for pen pals, I decided to stick to the things I know: pens & ink, books, and writing. My personal letter formula is the following:
- Date in the top right corner
- Dear (insert name here),
- Thank them for the letter they sent and what I enjoyed most about it. Answer any questions they may have asked.
- Lead into things we have in common, if known, or talk about something of possible interest to us both. This is the meat of the letter and can contain any number of topics (see previous paragraph).
- Postally yours, April
Using this formula gives my letters a certain structure and rhythm. It makes it easier to write and for my receivers to read. You can, of course, toss that to the wind and do whatever you like![iconheading type=”h2″ style=”fa fa-question-circle” color=”#ef43b0″]What Do I Write About Though?[/iconheading]
As for what I write about, I usually discuss the fountain pens I’m currently using or which pens are in restoration. I like to use multiple types of ink and include at the end what they were and what I wrote them with. I may even discuss off topic things like who my favorite poet is and what we did for our last vacation. It just depends on who they are, where I met them through, and what I feel like writing that day.
Truthfully, there are so many things you can include that it would fill a book. But, I do have a few stand-bys to get me going in the write direction:
- a favorite book or author (or both!) and why
- next vacation and it’s the same/different from the last one
- interesting anecdotes from work
- events that you are attending or have attended
- favorite – or least favorite – television show (anyone showing any interest in fandoms get’s my views on Doctor Who)
- favorite recipes or restaurants visited
- pets of all kinds
- favorite activities, like reading, painting, jump roping, hang gliding, etc.
The Letter Writer’s Alliance also has a lovely long list of what to write to a pen pal. And, if you need more help with format or finding just the right words for a particular occasion, might I suggest The Art of the Personal Letter by Margaret Shepherd? It’s a lovely, and small, volume that gets right to the point and offers a myriad of ideas for just about any personal letter you may want to send.
So, what about you, my letter-writing friends? What’s your formula for a perfect letter? Tell me all about it in the comments below! [icon type=”fa fa-hand-o-down” color=”#ef43b0″ fontsize=”24″]