How to: write a friendly letter that warms hearts
I know, the title is a bit strange since most of you already know how to write letters, but are they actually effective? We’re used to business letters, company emails, and you may have even written or received a few love letters… albeit mine we’re of the kindergarten variety (‘do you like me?’ Check ‘yes’ or ‘no’).
But I really love to write letters to my friends from time to time that let them know that they are a very appreciated presence in my life. When you consider how fast-paced life is, it seems like I barely get time to see the people I care about most, live and in-person. Hence, as part of the Make It Better blog, I’m asking to make a resolution to write a nice letter – in a little card, thank you note, old-school paper – to a friend. It will not only warm their hearts, but it will also warm your heart when they eventually return the favor with a little letter right back.
Are you ready? Let’s get to work!
Step 1 – Think about what makes them special
There has to be a reason that you are friends with this person in the first place, right? There must be something about their character, their talent, or their actions that makes them a special person. Then think about what aspect of them is the reason that you are friends.
Are they there for you when you need them? Did they help you move out of your freshman dorm? Whatever it is make a little list, either mental or on paper. This will be the meat and potatoes of the letter.
Step 2 – Be honest and tell them what’s in your heart – not your mind
Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and put your focus on your feelings so that when you actually start writing, it will be genuine. All too often I see people writing things that come off contrived and self-interested. Considering how much time we spend in little mental islands with our computers, smartphones, and to-do lists, it can be hard to disconnect from the ‘me’ part of our brains.
If you are writing someone a letter, it needs to be about them. It’s like a service to someone else. That means that you have to give of yourself. I think this is the most important way to write a letter that is actually heartfelt and genuine.
Otherwise, you may just make that person feel like a sounding board for all of your problems and thoughts. Clear the mind, and open the heart; always a good way to start.
Step 3 – Get cracking and actually get it out on paper!
This is actually the easiest part, but some people tend to make it hard with writing anxiety. I imagine that if you are reading this, you are one of these people whose brain get’s cluttered with thoughts like “what if I mess up?” and “what if I come off wrong?”
Don’t sweat it. If you need to write a few drafts, then do that. But try to keep your mind clear so that the words can just flow from the true messages that you want to get across.
When you start your letter, you can start by simply saying why your writing. Something like, “I wanted to get back in touch,” “I just want to say thank you for..,” etc. Keep that sort of stuff brief and general so that you can get into the most important stuff you want to say without monologue-ing.
Then, I usually ask them how they are doing before I update them on my life. It’s quite straightforward.
Finally, I close with referring back to why I think they’re special. And you don’t have to literally say, “You are so special to me because…” Disguise it however you like, but it could be something as simple as reminiscing about a great moment you shared and commenting on how great you think it is. Remembering these moments is powerful because it shows that you still care and that it changed you in some small way.
Then you can close and ask them to get in touch. Done.
BAM! You just wrote a friendly, heartfelt letter!
It’s really simple when you get down to it. You don’t have to use fancy prose. The main focus, as you notice from steps 1 and 2, is to focus on the sentiment that you want to get across and clear your mind of the clutter of everyday living.
Then just put your feelings on the page in whatever way they flow.
Oh, and you must eventually press send or mail it out. Haha, that’s important too.
Wishing you Love and Happiness,