Getting mail is a ton of fun, in an increasingly digital world, writing it can sometimes be hard. This blog post series about Letter Writing aims to make it easier. For more tips on writing letters look at my posts on writing Thank You Notes and Love Letters.
You say the words "Writing a Friendly Letter" and it likely conjures up images of your third grade classroom. Maybe yours even had a nifty poster showing you the layout of such a letter (date and adresses, salutation, body, closing, and maybe even a P.S!). In a world of texts and emails and twitters and-gasp!- blog posts though, does anybody not in elementary school still write letters?
Well, obviously. It has been classified as a "dying art" by many, but the practice still perseveres, likely because its nice to get something other than bills in the mailbox. Its nice to know someone took the extra time and effort to write to you. Its nice to know someone wants to hear back from you too. Not to get all meta on anybody but we live in a world where we are simultaneously more connected and disconnected than ever. Taking the time to perserve a relationship- not to mention make someone happy- seems worth the extra effort.
The basics of such letters haven't changed since you left school, so you are already well equipped to write one. The best letters are ones that people have set aside time to write, so give yourself that time. Let your letter be newsy with a mix of the good things and the bad, but make sure it doesn't degenerate into a whole chorus of "woe-is-me." Likewise leave out words of anger, and toe the line so that the contents of the letter is more than mere gossip! Ask questions of your letter recipient (this also makes it easier for them to write a letter back to you) reply to questions they have had, describe unique or funny experiences And remember- while sometimes one can divulge too much- the devil is in the details. Your reader will enjoy hearing about your reactions and observations to events more than they would just a laundry list of what you did over the week.
Many people enjoy making what is often termed "mail art" with decorated pages and envelopes, but personal correspondence can be written on anything- after all you are usually writing to people you know well and enjoy and/or people who will be getting to know you and your personality. Picking stationary you like can fire you up to write more, but any paper or card will do. It can also be fun to add a bit of emphera such as a newspaper clipping or recipe or ticket to the envelope.
Though of course, not every letter sent will (or even should) result in a pen-pal-like relationship, hopefully responses back and forth will result. Manners dictate a letter should be responded to in two to four weeks of receiving it. Longer than that and the writer may forget what they wrote you and/or think you've forgotten to respond. Sounds like a long time, but for me personally, its a struggle. Do what you can, right? The important thing is that with each letter the person receiving it will know you cared enough to take the time to write.
Want more tips of writing personal letters? Find them here: