A guide to writing snail mail letters
|Sending a letter in the post seems old fashioned, doesn't it? Why bother? Sending an email is quicker, and by the time the letter arrives, the news will be out of date and they'll have read it all on Facebook anyway. Right?
Sending an email (or posting on Facebook) will convey your news, but in a highly impersonal way. If the news is urgent, phone. If it's not, visit. Not so easy to visit when family and friends are scattered all over the world though, is it?
Tell me, when's the last time you sat down in a comfortable chair with a cuppa and a biscuit, and settled in to read a long email? Never, right? But whenever I send a letter to my sister, that's exactly what I picture - her smile when she sees it arrive, her anticipation as she puts the kettle on, and her enjoyment as she sits down and reads what I have written.
A letter should be handwritten. Why? Maybe you don't like your handwriting. If you don't like your voice, does that mean a family member won't want to hear it when you call? Generally speaking, no one likes their own handwriting, but it comes to represent them. And when that letter arrives, the recipient recognises it and it feels special.
Writing a letter isn't difficult. Start with a greeting. Does it matter what greeting? Nope. Dear, hello, hi, ciao, gidday... Just start. Then, if you're replying to a previous letter, answer any questions the sender asked - it's only polite after all. Share some news. Big news, small news, the sort you'd share over a cuppa and a biscuit... See, you're getting it now. Chat. Finish with some questions for your recipient, maybe checking up on their family, friends, job, whatever you want to know about, and sign off. Easy as that.
A long letter is a beautiful thing, but don't stress about the length. You'll find that the more you write, the easier it gets. Just like any skill.
I love experimenting with new stationery and pens, and one of my favourite things to shop for is quirky stationery to surprise my godchildren or my sister, but most of my letters are written on a pad of standard lined paper with a ballpoint pen. The important thing is the letter.