Letter Writing Part Two: The Letter

Netscher, Caspar - The Man Writing a Letter - ...

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I started Letter Writing Part One: Spelling and Grammar about a month ago. And I promised that my rant would be continued into something else. In fact, it had started as something else, the actual art of letters. Not to be confused with the alphabet. I love everything there is about a hand-written letter, from getting something (anything really) in the mail that isn’t an advertisement or bill to the paper and ink that were used to write it.

This part of the Letter Writing series, is less rant, and more praise. I have a pen pal, perhaps a tad late in life, but I never had one as a kid, although I was curious to meet people from across the seas. While my pen pal lives in the US, like myself, we are still separated by quite the distance. I won’t get into how I met my pen pal online, but during a lively discussion we realized that we both enjoyed writing and getting letters.

But what is it about letters that differs from, say, email? What makes them so enjoyable? Well, apart from the fact that it isn’t an ad or bill, it’s…everything.

Receiving a letter is like getting a Christmas present. It can stimulate excitement and curiosity, you have only a vague notion of what might be in there. It can even make your day so much brighter to know that someone else out there cares. Someone to share interests with, share joys and sorrows with. It’s also a great way for people who are shy, or need time to digest information to get to know others.

Writing a letter is just as important, but involves more than just putting pen to paper. When writing a letter you can learn interpersonal skills at a different level than applying them online or in person.   It does not have to be as formal as in-person, unless you’re writing a business letter, but can be (in my experience it is) more formal than an online presence (facebook and twitter to name two). Writing letters can help with memory, when you are replying to what the other just written while also keeping in mind what they have said previously.

When writing a letter you should be able to take into account the person on the other end. What are their interests? Do they really care that you have seven cats and four dogs? How to say things are just as important as what to say in a letter. There are several different reading levels and formality levels. If you’re writing a letter to a friend, feel free to be more informal, and lower the reading level (or raise it, whichever fits both of you).  Writing letters on a regular basis for pleasure can help prepare for writing more formal forms of address (Cover and Thank You Letters).

This pastime can also help vocabulary skills. Sometimes when I’m talking with someone in person I can’t always say what I mean but will think of it later. I don’t have to worry about it when writing a letter, I can take hours to write a single sentence (although that rarely happens).  I can look it up while writing, that’s hard to do in person. I can also look up synonyms when writing a letter to get the whole feeling across.

I just received a letter from a friend in Texas. I was pleasantly surprised that it took a shorter amount of time to traverse half the country than it usually does. I found out that she has interests in helping other people and volunteering, I had never known that part of her before and it was good to find out so I can add more of what I put into my letters to her.

Perhaps this whole post seems a bit scattered, it was written over a couple of days. I do hope, however,  that my passion for letters gets across. I honestly believe that learning how to write a letter can help people in their lives,

both professionally and personally.

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5 Comments

Filed under The Writing Life, Writing

5 responses to “Letter Writing Part Two: The Letter

  1. snagglewordz

    I think it’s sad that handwritten letters received via snail mail are not the norm these days. My heart always lifted to see familiar writing on an envelope, the stamps, choice of stationery and words imparted. I’m glad friends still send me postcards!

    • Me too. That’s why, during nano, my pen pal and I started writing to each other. Perhaps, however, using the term pen pal sounds a bit juvenile. Perhaps, long-distance friend would be a better word?

  2. Letter writing is a dying art, but it’s really enjoyable. Not for communication on a wide scale, but it’s great between individuals. My gram and I still exchange letters, and it is a lovely way to communicate.

  3. Pingback: The Importance Of Writing A Thank You Letter « Good Girls Inc

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