Whether you’re old or young, centennial or millennial, a discussion of the art of letter writing requires facing some hard truths and lost skills. Among them:
Add to this list a host of further plot complications, including cards, envelopes, and what the heck to WRITE, and you see why the art of letter writing is referred to as lost. But wait. Not. So. Fast.
Like refurbishing a piece of old furniture or starting a home vegetable garden, there’s a time and place for “slow living” and snail mail may well be the poster child for this lifestyle trend.
Letter writing is about slowing down and taking deliberate, thoughtful action. But deliberate work is tough and not without its drawbacks. Let’s explore the pro’s and con’s of letter writing in a realistic manner, leaving aside any waxing poetic references to the letters of Louisa May Alcott, those from Christopher Columbus to his patrons King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella , or those between Emily Dickinson and Thomas Higginson. Letter writing is for everyone!
Letter writing has some strong pro’s, but no need to overdo it. Don’t let your handwritten letter be as formulaic as grocery store circulars and refinance offers. Yes, put pen to paper for that first client—the one who took the risk, believed in you, and signed on the dotted line when you were just starting out. But no need to send a thank you note every time your customer drops off their dry cleaning. A good rule of thumb: if you’re rushing through your thank you note, don’t write it.
Wondering if you owe your great aunt a thank you card for the homemade pralines she sent you for Christmas? Wondering if your godchild will need therapy because you’ve never written him a birthday card? Wondering if the client who shared a personal loss with you during your last meeting could use a sympathy card? The answer to these and similar questions is YES.
Make some tea, coffee, or a stiff drink. Light a candle, light a fire, or turn on a bright fluorescent light—whatever makes it less painful to sit down, write down some thoughts and ideas, and share them with someone who might benefit. Could be your Mom, your neighbor, your longest-term client or your newest customer.
As a reluctant letter writer myself (I logged two in the past year), I can attest to the fact that the byproducts of the act include assuaged guilt, accidental calm (yoga next!), and an unwarranted feeling of self-righteousness that can’t be beat. And on the recipient’s end, there’s relationship enrichment and customer retention.
Bottom Line: Let guilt be your guide. If in doubt, send it out!
Whether your foray into letter writing stops at the posting of a single letter, or the acquisition of an 18th century secretary desk and fountain pen, you’ll need a few things to get started:
We hope you feel the art of letter writing is ever so slightly more accessible, an easy way to tamp down guilt, and a good way to slow down. Perhaps you’ll dip a toe into the letter writing waters on National Letter Writing Day (December 7). Enjoy the pace!
P.S. For a deep-dive into handwriting, check out our What Does Your Handwriting Say About You blog?
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