You may be asking yourself, ‘Who writes letters anymore?’ I do, for one! There is just something about the act of getting out some delicious stationery and my fountain pen and writing writing an engaging letter to a friend or a family member.
It is so much more personal than an email, abbreviated text message, or random Facebook poke. I, for one, love receiving letters and I know people love receiving them.
Responding to Letters
If you are the lucky recipient of a letter from someone, it is your duty to respond to that letter in a timely fashion. Your paper doesn’t have to be fancy, you can use lined paper or printer paper. You can use coloured pens, fountain pens, cheap pens or even pencils. Whatever you choose, make sure you allow yourself plenty of room to write and a writing utensil that can be read easily.
When you’ve got your supplies and you’re ready to begin, sit down and read the letter you received again to refresh your memory. Leave the letter out next to you so you can refer to it as you go along. I find it helpful to read the letter a section at a time and then write a few lines about what the other person wrote.
For example, if the person started their letter by telling you about a wonderful book they just finished, respond to that by saying if I’ve read the book or not and your thoughts on the book. If you haven’t read the book, tell them what you’ve heard, if you want to read it, or something else pertinent about the book they’ve mentioned. Remember to answer any questions your writer sends to you.
Lastly, remember to sign off your letter in a similar manner to the way they signed off their letter. If they wrote ‘Love, Aunt Phoebe’, then you can write ‘Love, Your Name’ when signing off. If they were more formal in their signature and wrote, ‘Regards, Mrs. Cain’, then you can write, ‘Respectfully, Your Name’, or some other similar sign off.
If they were friendly in their sign off, you can be too. Sometimes, depending on your relationship with the other person, you can even sign off a little more friendly than they did if you feel it’s appropriate.
Letter Writing Prompts
If you don’t have a letter to respond to or you don’t have any questions to answer, you can use prompts to think of material to include in your letter.
One way you can think of things to write, is to remember to make your letter GOOD. Good is an acronym that means:
G – Greeting: Remember to greet your reader. Dear, Hello, Good Day, My Love, whatever you think appropriate.
O – Old News: Address any old news you want to clear up or finish. For example, you may have been telling a story about a family member and now something else has happened. Mention the old news and then the new news to keep them updated on the situation.
O – Other News: Do you have any new news to tell? What have you been up to? How is school going? Work? Are you dating, married, have kids? Think of anything new that has happened in your life that you want to share and write about that.
D – Designation: Close your letter with your name and a closing statement. You may say, ‘Love, Ed’, or ‘Sincerely, Ed’. Choose something appropriate as explained earlier and then put your name.
Another idea for helping you find something to write about is to look at their letter as explained before. What are they talking about? If they wrote about a movie that you’ve seen, share your thoughts. If you haven’t seen it, write about a movie you’ve seen or want to see. Talk about the book the movie was based off of. Find things your reader is interested in and talk about those things. Keep them engaged and interested in what you have to say.
Lastly, when all else fails, talk about your family and friends. What are your kids up to? What did your BFF do last weekend that was so crazy? Did your Dad get a new job? Did your Mom publish a new book? Talk about things that might interest your reader.
It’s always easiest to write about what you know so start with those closest to you. Just be sure you’re not telling someone something embarrassing the friend or family member wouldn’t want told.
If you don’t have anyone to write an engaging letter to, there are tons of websites for finding a pen pal, writing anonymous letters for soldiers, the sick, or the elderly and loads of others. Just Google Search ‘pen pal list’ and see what comes up.
Write a Letter to Yourself
If you just don’t have anyone to write to, you can always write letters to yourself. Writing a letter to yourself can help you work through a rough situation, make you feel better if you’re down, or otherwise provide therapeutic benefits.
For example, if you’re feeling depressed or need to say something that you don’t feel like you can say out loud, write yourself a letter and tell yourself all about it. I have discovered lots of things about myself this way. I know that may sound funny, but it’s true. Sometimes the physical act of writing out how you’re feeling and why can help you realise the real reason for what’s going on and allows you to find a solution.
You don’t have to write it to yourself specifically, you can just write it and never, ever, give it to anyone. Pissed off at your boss or a co-worker? Write them a letter and tell them about themselves. Then keep it or burn it, or shred it. Again, the physical act of writing it out and saying what you want to say can really help relieve a lot of stress regarding a situation.
Of course, if the situation is dangerous or illegal, you may want to write a letter to someone and actually deliver it, know what I’m saying? Stay safe, always.
If you end up writing an engaging letter that you never send, keep them in a binder or file. They can provide a good record of how you were feeling at a certain time or remind you of something you wanted to do. If you want to write letters and never send them, consider getting a nice leather bound book or journal in which you write all your letters.
Who knows, maybe you’ll find something worth publishing with some tweaking or editing out of real names!
Whatever you end up doing, writing an engaging letter to yourself or others can be a very rewarding and satisfactory way to express yourself, keep in touch, or just get something off your chest.