Writing Better Personal or Love Letters

The perfect, quick, cheap and thoughtful gift for a special person

Photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash

It can be daunting to condense thoughts into sentences. Maybe you’re concerned that you won’t even get around to saying what you want to say. Granted, it probably isn’t as easy as writing angry blog posts online.

Worse, you might be worried that your won’t ever quite be the same, should you fail in the attempt.

If these concerns resonate with you, then I can empathise: they were once my own concerns too.

Forget ‘ special occasions’

Common thinking would suggest that you need a fancy card or letter to accompany every special occasion. Anniversaries, birthdays, new jobs…

Surely it is more spontaneous, random and genuinely unexpected if the letter you give accompanies absolutely nothing.

Don’t bother writing a letter to go along with a nice gift. The gift will overshadow the letter and your person probably doesn’t need to get both at once.

I only give out about one letter to my own husband per year, on totally random occasions. Sometimes I write a personal letter for old friends I just don’t get to see enough as an adult.

Give someone a letter after a really shitty Monday back at work. How about to take the sting off a great holiday, now over? To help get through those January blues?

Presentation matters (possibly as much as content)

The sheer quality of your prose might just reduce someone to tears, but the effect is lessened if the letter is composed on clinically sterile, white Xerox paper you stole from the office photocopier.

Add some finesse and flair to your letter. Fix the presentation!

This part also betrays my obsession with style fantasy, and is cheesy as hell: why not write your letter on fancy paper and make it into a little scroll or folding parchment instead?

Why, I even like to include a little wax seal and to go ‘medieval’ on my letters…

Photo by Kara Eads on Unsplash

You can grab a wax seal for a couple of Dollars. It can be your name, partners initials, a god-awful love heart, whatever.

Even if you hate the paraphernalia required to make a seal and the general geekery of the presentation, who deep down, doesn’t want to receive a ye-olde scroll as a gift?

When your person has to gently pry open the soft red wax seal with a letter opener, taking care not to damage the seal in the process just to get to the inside, you just made it that much more of an experience.

The wax even comes in different colours. Different colours people!

Don’t fuss over typos and mistakes

Being accustomed to digital media, when do you ever see typos, score-throughs and other blemishes you always used to associate with hand-written work?

I would argue the typos, the ink spots and the words that were clearly wrong (or too cheesy), add character and authenticity to the letter.

Don’t feel the need to correct every mistake. You’ll probably never finish if you try to.

Sure, nobody wants to hand their person a huge steaming turd with more mistakes than the actual emotional content, but don’t change . Leave the blemishes where you can, don’t stress about words scored out and replaced.

Mistakes and just a little ugliness, add to the character of the letter as unique object: an artefact which is vastly more authentic and real than anything you could hammer out digitally.

Handing it over

Don’t ruin it at the end of all that hard work. Do you even want to be present when the letter gets read?

Go old fashioned and actually buy a stamp and post the thing. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, leave it in an interesting or random place. The toilet. No? How about a bedroom pillow. With the dog food? Under a computer keyboard?

How about inside the book that they are reading — there’s a winner!

Writing a letter is a process full of contradictions. In principle, it’s a stupidly easy thing to do, yet there are mental barriers to overcome. It’s easy to dream up a letter to someone but more challenging to actually go and craft a physical thing.

Don’t be put off by the notion that you can’t write, you are new to writing or because you just haven’t done it before. If it is someone you are close to, its much easier than writing to random people online.

Don’t think your person won’t appreciate it.

Scottish Teacher and MSc student at Edinburgh Uni. All about Whisky, Beer, Board Gaming and Dogs. Getting back into writing after a long thesis grind.

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