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How to write the perfect letter - the lost art of snail mail

Posted by zoe lacey on

A strange and lovely upside has come out of being away from our friends and loved ones: people are actually picking up a pen and paper and writing letters, sending cards and embracing snail mail.

It might have been a long time since you've penned  anything other than a birthday card,; the prospect of writing might leave you questioning what to write. 

Help is here! I've put together a quick guide to guide you on how you can send the perfect letter, no matter the recipient.

First things first - the easy stuff!

Say hello, ask how they are, let them know how you're doing. Living with other people - let them know how they are too! Got a dog, you can even include a little hello from them.

Keep it conversational : I know you feel slightly strange holding a conversation with yourself, but imagine you're on the phone or having a coffee with the recipient. 

Ask questions: (they might even write back with some answers!), answer your own questions

Add an anecdote: We know isolation isn't thrilling, but you can write about the book you're reading, series you're watching, bread you're cooking, which shelves you decided to declutter this week...

Try writing a list:  if you find the conversational tone hard, maybe try listing some things. Some ideas to try:

  •  places you can go together after lockdown
  •  favourite things you've done together
  •  books/shows you recommend
  •  rate your neighbours
  •  restaurants you've been dreaming about

Include a keepsake: Base the letter around something else you've included. A newspaper/magazine clipping, old photos, recipes you want to share, books,  a random piece of clutter you felt the need to pass on. Let them know why you're sending it, what you love about it, what it makes you think about/feel/remember.

Be emotional: It's okay to talk about your feelings - it's almost encouraged in a letter.  Are you calm, frustrated, melancholy, elated? Write about it - letters don't have to be sterile, far from it.

Don't forget:

Date your letter: people keep them, and re-read them. This way when they get found years from now its easy to place.

Add your address: put it inside or on the reverse of the envelope, especially if you'd like them to reply.

No stamp? No problem: Royal Mail now allows you to pay for postage online. As long as you can print and stick on a label, all you need to do is pop it in the post-box.  Want stamps? You can order those online too!