Friday, October 24, 2008

The Lost Art of..

Letter Writing. You may have noticed that I like a lot of the suggestions and articles from the DLM Blog. Here's another one:

Make Someone’s Day for Less Than $1 – Send a Letter

Posted: 19 Oct 2008 10:47 AM CDT

Want a quick, easy and (almost) free way to be guaranteed that you’ll make someone’s day special?

Send them a letter.

How often do you receive personal handwritten letters in the mail nowadays? Between receiving birth announcements via email and getting dumped by your girlfriend via text message, I’m betting it’s pretty rare. You’re probably used to getting bills, junk and bank statements by mail – and little else.

Why not set aside some time this weekend to sit down and write to a few people? If you don’t enjoy writing, try buying some nice postcards of your home town. If you’ve got an artistic streak, why not design your own notecards? You don’t have to write a long letter for it to be effective. It's the thought that counts and the personal touch that makes it special.

Who’s the Lucky Person?

So, who are you going to write to? Some good choices are:
  • An older relative, perhaps a grandpa, aunt, parent…
  • Someone who you admire or even hero-worship a bit: maybe an author, blogger, musician… pick someone important to you, rather than someone famous
  • A child who you know, especially a niece, nephew or godchild
  • Your spouse, partner or boyfriend/girlfriend
I can absolutely guarantee that all of these people will be thrilled to get a letter from you.

Getting Started
Maybe it’s been so long since you wrote a letter that you’re not sure how to get going.

Start with your address in the top right corner (if you’re writing a notecard, or writing to someone who you often correspond with, just put your town). Below this, write the date.

Then, begin your letter on the left hand side with “Dear”. Yes, it might seem a bit formal, quaint or even archaic – but it’s a time-honored way to start off a letter.

If you know the person, start along these lines:
  • “It’s been a while since we last met up – how are you?”
  • “I thought I’d write a proper letter for a change.”
  • “Sometimes I forget to say how much I love you. So I wanted to write and tell you…”
If you don’t know the person, try something like:
  • “You don’t know me, but I’ve learned so much from your books.”
  • “My name’s Ali, and I wanted to write and say thanks!”
  • “Hello from London!”
What Else to Say?
If you really don’t have much to say, just keep your letter short – there’s nothing wrong with that. But many people appreciate a “newsy” letter, especially if you’ve been out of touch for a while. Try including some details on topics like:
  • Your family and home life
  • Any hobbies or activities you’re involved in
  • A new role at work, or a new step in your education
Choose details that you know will interest the recipient – for instance, you’re writing to someone who loves animals, you might want to talk about your new puppy. And if you’re writing to your grandparents, it’s probably best not to mention your wild nightclub experiences…

Making it Beautiful
Receiving any letter at all will be a special moment for the person you’re writing to, but taking a few minutes to make your letter beautiful (and easy to read) will make it something likely to be kept and treasured.

If your handwriting’s not great, there’s nothing wrong with typing your letter – but choose a nice font, print it out on good-quality paper (using colored or decorated paper can be especially effective) and sign your name by hand.

For those with neat writing, a short handwritten letter is sure to delight the person who reads it … especially if they’re from the older generation. And if you’re writing a love-letter, writing by hand is pretty much a must! Keep it short and sweet if you’re worried it won’t be legible.

Other nice touches are to decorate the envelope that you use as well, or if you’re writing to a distant relative, include a recent photograph of yourself.

Get Writing!
Writing letters often seems like a big effort – the sort of thing we think we’d get round to doing if we only had a bit more time. But it only takes fifteen or twenty minutes to write someone a quick note. Pick a person now: it could be anyone – your granny, your favorite author, an old school friend. Promise yourself that you’ll write them a letter at some point in the next week. Better yet, post here in the comments and tell us who you’ll be writing to and why.


Written on 10/19/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.Photo Credit: dok1

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