Letter Writing: Personal Corespondence

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Getting mail is a ton of fun, but in an increasingly digital world, writing it can sometimes be hard. This blog post series about Letter Writing aims to make it easier. 



Mail to NowhereYou 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: 

12 comments

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    1. Now if only I could keep to it myself when I write you, right? :P :D!

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  3. The photograph in this post is amazing, and caused me to explore your flickr page today, awesome! You are an amazing photographer! And so creative and inspiring in so many ways! Letter writing is something I used to do a lot, but haven't in recent years. Emailing is too easy I guess, but glad to know the art of letter writing isn't totally gone!

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    1. Oh, thank you for looking at my photography! I don't do it as much anymore, sadly, but am thrilled you took the time to look at my flickr.

      Emailing is very convient and truth be told, I'm not always great at letter writing either, so am writing the series in an attempt to be better about correspondence!

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  4. I love that mail is such a passion of yours! It totally is a dying art and its awesome when you still receive a hand written letter or card in the mail :)
    -Jessi
    haircutandgeneralattitude.blogspot.com

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    1. It IS awesome to get stuff in the mail!

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  5. Wow, I love that you're doing a series on letter writing! I love writing letters and sending homemade cards in the mail- I love imagining the excitement on the faces of my family and friends when they get something fun and unexpected sent to them! Great advise too. Love it.

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    1. Oh, how cool is it that you make homemade cards! YAY!

      I love to imagine my friends and family's day being brightened by something in the mail too...

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  7. I have had a penpal since my sophomore year of high school. We are still in touch, send each other mail, and also e-mail now. One of the best things was being able to write my experience and emotions to her throughout high school and college and I hope snail mail doesn't die so my kids can experience it.

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    1. That is really impressive how long and deep of a friendship you've managed to keep up with a penpal. I'm not as good about returning the correspondence as I should be, so that aspect of your penpal writing is especially cool to me!

      Hopefully it won't die out too soon! A school system I sub in has some forth graders in other schools exchanging letters as pen-pals to learn about writing,and will soon be starting a program where high schoolers will start writing to fourth and fifth graders and hopefully keep writing to them till the high school graduates. They will meet with the high school graduate too, but they wanted the letters to help create a sense of more intimate conversation. The hope is with these role models the students will learn to make more positive choices, not get into drugs and that it will decrease bullying.....anyway, the whole point was hopefully our kids will be able to expeirnce pen-pals in someway or another!

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