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Letter Writing: Forget birthday money; I want love!






RWC Tutor Hannah Kleinkramer shares some tips on letter writing.




Welcome to my TedTalk:

I have a box in my desk drawer packed with birthday cards, letters from my relatives, and even sticky note correspondence between friends. When I am feeling nostalgic, I pull it out, dust it off, and dive in. In some ways, it feels like an archive of my life, but in a more real way, it is an archive of all the ways I have been loved.


I have a box in my desk drawer packed with birthday cards, letters from my relatives, and even sticky note correspondence between friends. When I am feeling nostalgic, I pull it out, dust it off, and dive in. In some ways, it feels like an archive of my life, but in a more real way, it is an archive of all the ways I have been loved.


Why letters? Because I said so:

Remember that box full of letters I was talking about before? Well, if my house was burning down, and I could only grab one thing, it would be that box. It is full of every person I have ever loved —my best friend from 10th grade, my first boyfriend, and my grandad; they all live on with me in that box. Words are sacred, and words from loved ones even more so. Written words live beyond us, and I want (and if you've made it this far, hopefully, you do too) my words of love and adoration to live on past me. That's why I've decided that the lost art of letter writing is important enough to ramble on about.


There is something so intimate about writing a letter. It forces the writer to reveal little pieces of themselves each time they craft a new correspondence. There is nothing simple about it; accomplished letter writing takes spunk. In an age where, at the click of a button, you can send a message across the globe through rough terrain and inclement weather, letters allow space to breathe and foster genuine relationships.


Snail Mail, Really?

Yeah, you heard me right. We're not talking about email, texting, or instant messages; we are talking about good old-fashioned snail mail. You know the U.S. postal service is still there for a reason, right? I know it's less convenient than using all that fancy schmancy technology, but there is something quite nostalgic about dropping a letter in the post.


P.S. That also means you will have to buy a stamp! Gasp! You probably have some rolling around that old junk drawer, but if not, they can be purchased directly at your local post office or most supermarkets' checkout counters.


Getting started: Paper, Pen, Envelope, and... A STAMP!

Don't know where to start? That's okay. It's less important where you begin than it is that you actually begin. People often tell me that they want to write but don’t know where to start, so they never begin. It's tempting to fall into this pattern, but be persistent in your craft; it's worth it. Here's a comfort: something always happens when you pick up the pen. Even if, by your standards, it's rubbish, the process is equally as important as the end product. You should write for the sheer adventurism of it, so whatever you do, don't let it slip through your fingers.


Grab your materials and get ready because there will be no more breaks from here on out. If I could only give you one piece of advice for writing letters, it would be: NEVER start your letter with the reason you are writing it. Let's say you are writing a thank you note. If you start with the thank you, you have nowhere to go from there. Lemony Snicket said it best. "Start with any other sentence. If you first say, 'Thank you for the nice sweater,' you can't imagine what to write next. Instead, say 'It was so wonderful to come home from school to find this nice sweater. Thank you for thinking of me on Arbor Day.'" This idea revolutionized my letter-writing experience; there was no more feeling stuck after the first sentence. Personally, I like to start my letters with a memory of the person I'm writing too. Let's take a look below at a real-life letter I wrote to one of my dearest friends.


Contrary to what I said before, you don’t have to rip your heart open and confess your undying love. Keep it simple and just express genuine love and gratitude to your recipient. It can be as easy as sharing a fond memory of them, a small moment from your day, or something that reminds you of them.


Ideas to Get You Started

  • Share something funny that happened recently.

  • Share something that made you think of them.

  • Write down a favorite shared memory.

  • List things you love about the person.

  • Tell them how you miss them.

  • Talk about the weather.

  • Write about common interests.

  • Share exciting news.


After the writing is done, you can have some fun decorating your letter by adding notes or doodles in the margins. I also adore making the envelope look as lovely as the letter with cute stickers. Another fun thing to consider is adding small trinkets to your envelope, like photos, newspaper clippings, inspirational quotes, or even a pressed flower. My favorite extra to add is a poem that reminds you of your loved one. Trust me on this: Love flows from the details.


Addressing the Envelope

We're heading back to first grade with this one. I know you all learned how to address a letter, but in this modern world, I can't blame you if you've forgotten. There are three main components to addressing an envelope properly. The name & address (receiver's name & address) are in the middle of the letter, the return name & address (your name & address) are in the left-hand corner, and the stamp in the right-hand corner. You may need more than one stamp, depending on where your letter is going. Consult the USPS website or visit your local post office with any questions. I will put an example envelope below to help y’all out.


If you haven't figured it out already, I am masquerading this shameless promotion of love as a letter-writing tutorial. I sincerely hope that you learned a little bit about letter writing and a lot about how to take a leap of faith and show your friends and family how special they are. If you take anything with you from this, please let it be that we should all be belting out to the heavens the love we hold for each other because, in life, it's small kindness and true expressions of affection that really matters.


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