ExtraCurricular – Letter Writing

Staring at a blank page and not knowing what to write about can be intimidating. Here are some tips to help you delve into the “lost art” of letter writing.

Start with the basics. The only items required for a letter are paper, pen, and envelope, but there is a lot of room within that to find what works best for you. In terms of paper, using a piece of printer paper or sheet from a legal pad is perfectly adequate, but a heavier weight of paper is easier to write on and more durable. If you want your letter to be kept for posterity, then finding acid-free paper is a must, but paper now comes in a multitude of colours and textures so It’s easy to find some that suits your personality. Pens are a matter of individual preference, so write with what you feel most comfortable using; a disposable stick pen with non-smudging ink, a micro-tip felt pen, a coloured gel pen, or something a bit more fancy like a fountain pen are all possibilities. And let’s not forget the humble pencil! But the most important thing is to just sit down and start to write.

Be creative. Even if you start with a boring piece of paper, don’t be afraid to use stickers, pieces of washi tape, doodles or rubber stamps to jazz it up and show your artistic flair. Give yourself permission to have a bit of fun with your letters. There are almost endless possibilities of unique products now available at craft and stationery stores. If You’re crafty, you can go one step further and design your own cards, notepaper and envelopes to truly customize your letters.

don’t worry about your writing. Writing things by hand can be slow and tiring, especially if you are more used to typing on a computer. Start slowly, and only write a short note if it feels strange and uncomfortable. Also, don’t feel self-conscious about whether your printing or cursive writing is less than perfect. After all, part of the joy of letters, and what makes them so meaningful, is that it they become a lasting artifact of your unique writing.

It’s not Shakespeare. February, the month of Valentine’s Day, is associated with writing profound and eloquent love letters, but don’t think that this is a requirement with any letter. The most important thing is to use your own vocabulary, punctuation, and style. Think of writing a letter as if you are sending a bit of yourself in an envelope. Even a short “thinking of you” note can encourage the recipient more than you know.

Send Little “Treats” The cost of postage has increased significantly in the last few years, making sending large parcels uneconomical. You can send surprises that fit in an envelope without adding extra postage, which will make your letter memorable. Some ideas: a bookmark, recipe card (handwritten, of course!) of a new dish you’ve tried, a “lucky lottery ticket” or a paper fortune from your last fortune cookie, a copied out poem or quotation, or even a gift card from their favourite store.

What to write about If you are stumped about what to include in your letter, here are some easy conversation ideas:

– Updates about your family’s school, work or hobbies
News about friends, family or your pets, especially if they are humorous.
– What has been happening in your street, town or city.
– Holidays, birthdays, achievements, or anything you think is newsworthy and would like to share.
– A funny joke you have heard, a good movie you have seen, or a fun game you played are all great things to write about.
– A good idea is to think about the last time you saw the person you are writing to and picture them in the room with you as you write. This will make it easier for you to tell them about new things that have happened since the last time you saw them. Even if life hasn’t been treating you that well, remember to be honest and treat the letter like you are speaking to them in person.
– Remember to ask the person you are writing to about what they have been doing too. Letters are all about reciprocation!

Carla loves paper. She has far too many books, compulsively buys craft supplies, has several boxes of cards and letters from years back years that she just cannot throw out, but feel free to say hi to her on Twitter @LunchBuster.