How to Write a Perfect Letter

No one writes letters anymore. Why would they? Email is faster, cheaper and more convenient. What email isn't, however, is personal. A handwritten letter says that you care enough about what you are saying, and the person you are saying it to, to take a little more time. If you are going to make that extra step, make sure it's worth it. Write a perfect letter.

Know why you're writing the letter. It might sound silly, but this information will shape every aspect of the writing process. Do you have news you want to share in a special way? Are you confronting someone? Are you so close to someone that you want them to see your handwriting on the page?

Don't see physically writing a letter as a chore, but as an event. Presumably you don't write letters every day. Pay close attention to each aspect in the process and realize all their small joys.

Start the letter with an aside. Unless the news you have is so pressing you simply cannot bear to put anything before it on the page, start with a tangential comment. Unlike email, letters are not simply a means of communication. Think of a letter as a conversation. It's a conversation you control, but a conversation all the same. Don't just rush in; work around to your point slowly. Like a conversation, writing a letter is art.

Write. Start with a tangential point, but don't try to plan the entire letter. If you do, your letter might sound stilted or unnatural.

Use details, which will make your letter breathe. Don't plan them or try to force them in. If letter writing is an art, then it's the little touches that will turn it from a simple piece into something truly beautiful. It's also these touches that connect you most deeply to the person who will read your letter.

Personalize the letter. Much like step one, know why you're writing this letter to this person. How does what you write affect them? A letter is not a journal entry; it's not all about you. Bring them, and your relationship with them, into the letter. This will make it much more rewarding for them. It will also make it much more rewarding for you.

End with a flourish. Maybe add a quote that you like; something beautiful, meaningful or both. Or, just end with a thought from your heart.

  • Write often. Letter writing is like any other skill-it improves if you practice and dies if you don't.
  • Take pride in your letters. A good letter is an accomplishment.