No one can deny that technologies like texting, e-mailing, and social media have improved the world in many ways. They offer speed and convenience, they create a digital paper trail, and they’re tremendously helpful for people with illegibly bad handwriting. Unfortunately, as these technologies have become more popular, handwritten letters have fallen by the wayside. Although it takes more effort to write a letter by hand, there are many benefits that make it worthwhile. Today we’re exploring the art of a handwritten letter – and we hope that by the end, everyone will feel inspired to write a letter to someone special.
The Art of a Handwritten Letter
When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? Somewhere in your home, do you have a collection of cherished letters from friends and family? Did your parents or grandparents pass important family letters on to you? Although they’re becoming less common, we certainly hope that handwritten letters won’t go extinct. If you haven’t written a letter by hand in a while and you’re afraid you’ve forgotten the “rules,” follow these tips:
- Write the date.
- Start with an opening salutation. (Ex: “Dear Jane,” “My Dearest,” “Hello!”)
- Write the body of the letter, switching periodically from telling the recipient about your life to asking the recipient about his or her life. In addition, try to write like you speak so that your letter oozes personality. And don’t be afraid to make corrections or mistakes: scratched-out words, misspelled words, arrows to add in extra details. This isn’t a school essay, after all!
- End with a closing. (Ex: “Love,” “Best wishes,” “See you soon!”)
- Sign your name.
- Add a postscript if necessary. (Ex: P.S. . . . )
After that, all you need to do is fold the letter up, place it in an envelope, write the recipient’s name and address, add the return address (i.e., your own name and address), put on a stamp, and stick the envelope in the mailbox. Voila!
Benefits of Handwritten Letters
If you’re not sure whether it would be worth it for you to spend time and effort crafting a handwritten letter, consider the following benefits:
- They’re fun to get in the mail. How often do people receive handwritten letters these days? Rarely, I think it’s safe to say. Whoever you write to will likely be surprised and delighted to find your letter in the mailbox.
- They reveal the writer’s handwriting. People write by hand so infrequently these days, many people don’t know what a particular loved one’s handwriting looks like. In this way, writing a letter is a simple way to share a little more about yourself.
- The recipient can hold onto the letter. A well-written letter is like a gift. Instead of throwing the letter away, the recipient often holds onto it to preserve the writer’s words.
- They may convey something about the place or time they were written. Whether accidental (a circular coffee stain left behind by a mug) or intentional (a spritz of perfume), letters can carry more than words.
- They make a long and arduous journey. Letters often travel miles and miles to reach their recipients, and the risk of the journey gives each letter a sort of mystique.
- The recipient will appreciate the effort put forth by the writer. We all know that it takes time and patience to write a handwritten letter. Your recipient will likely feel honored that you went to the effort.
- They allow the writer to add illustrations or photos. If you enjoy drawing, why not draw some pictures in the margins? Or you might find it helpful to draw something you described in the letter. You can also slip pictures into the envelope if you like.
- They help the writer pause and carefully consider their words. Unless you write very quickly, writing a letter by hand will force you to write with care. You might find that you have a lot more to say than you originally thought!
- They convey the writer’s personality. Texts and e-mails often look the same no matter who’s writing them, but letters say a lot about the writer. For example, the recipient will know something about you based on your handwriting style, your choice of paper and writing utensil, your choice of stamp, etc.
- They have a certain old-world sophistication. Handwritten letters are undeniably romantic and may give you the feeling that you’ve been transported back in time, to a time when handwritten letters were the only way for many people to keep in touch.
If you’re passionate about the art of a handwritten letter, you may wish to consider joining The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society. The group offers “a way to bring together people who love to write and receive handwritten letters, and to stop them from becoming a lost art. The hope is that handwritten letters will go on forever and ever.” What a lovely mission!
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