I chose this week’s writing prompt: write a letter of love, admiration, or solace, precisely because most of us tend to think of it as something that’s cliché or common to do on Valentine’s Day. But the reality is, it’s not at all a common thing to do. Not in today’s world. In fact, there’s an entire greeting card industry that’s counting on you not writing your own letter, ever, for any occasion at all— whether it’s a letter of love, admiration, thanks, solace, congratulations, etc.
We also have the ability to send an email or text message instantly, so why should we send snail mail or pass or deliver a letter in an envelope that could get lost or damaged or take what seems like forever to receive? Especially if we don’t need to do so.
But our need for immediacy above all else in certain realms of communication, especially important personal communication— when it comes to sending meaningful and intentional messages to those we admire, love, or want to comfort— has certainly made us lose quite a few emotional intelligence points over the past few decades. When it comes to personal communications, it’s never really about speed, not really, and never has been. It’s about honesty and authenticity.
If I’m being honest, I thought that writing a letter of love, admiration, or solace would be quick, easy, and kind of cheesy. I mean, who cares? Just write something down that sounds emotional and offers some fluff, and then boom, you’re done. Then it struck me. Everyone. Everyone cares about receiving meaningful, authentic messages. Including me. We all want to hear nice things that are heartfelt and sincere, and we desperately need to hear these things in our current state of the world, of (ironically) connected isolation. Especially from those whom we respect, love, and or admire. We all want and need to hear things that are said intentionally, that take time and care to articulate, from those whom we respect, love, and or admire. And especially on a day when everyone talks about love and relationships.
First, as I was thinking about writing my own letter and how cheesy and archaic it seemed, I also asked myself: wait, when’s the last time you actually sent or received a letter of any kind, let alone one that expresses anything sincere, heartfelt, and important? How do you actually know that writing one will be as cheesy or archaic an experience as you assume it will be? Where are you getting these assumptions from?
After reflecting on those questions, I did a little bit of digging to see what others have written in well-known letters that are still talked about and written about long after they were written, as well as some well-known thoughts and considerations on the letter-writing process itself. I wanted to reflect on and articulate my own thoughts and feelings on those. See the links at the end of this post to see some of these letters and thoughts on letter writing to which I’m referring.
Here’s what I discovered after reviewing a few of the timeless letters that were written, and parsing through some quotes and passages on the letter-writing process itself.
- Letter writing is easy or will come easily only when the writer has no inhibitions when writing, when they are completely honest and authentic.
- Writers of timeless and meaningful letters are intensely vulnerable, mostly optimistic, and unashamed.
- The most profound letters are usually short and sweet and have one fixed purpose or message.
- Letter writing assumes intimacy because it involves the honesty and authenticity of both the sender and the receiver, in equal measure.
- Letter writing is an intentional act that is meaningful and special because it is meaningful.
- Most of us want to be special enough or important enough to receive a letter, even if we find it difficult to write them.
- Even letters that might never be read or sent should still be written.
What are your thoughts and feelings about letter writing? What do you think letter writing entails? And if you answer those questions, also answer: when’s the last time you have written or received a letter? If it’s been a while, then isn’t now as good as any other time to write one?
Stay tuned for my completed letter of love, admiration, and solace. It’ll be posted on the blog tomorrow.
How’s your own draft coming along? Write your own letter of love, admiration, or solace this week too, and share a link to it in the comments. Or tag me @kecreighton on social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Medium with a link or to share more about your experience completing this prompt.
SOURCES AND ADDITIONAL READING:
- Daily Drafts & Dialogues: Quotes and Passages on Letter Writing
- Daily Drafts & Dialogues: What Makes a Letter Timeless and Necessary Right Now?
- brainpickings.org: The Letters of Greats: From Ernest Hemingway to Georgia O’Keeffe, a Glimpse of Famous Correspondence
- brainpickings.org: Maya Angelou’s Beautiful Letter to Her Younger Self
- Oprah.com: Celebrities Letters to Younger Selves
- Abrahamlincolnonline.org: Letter to Fanny McCullough
- theculturetrip.com The Most Beautiful Love Letters Of All Time
- Glamour: The Best Romantic Love Letters Ever Written
- electricliterature.com: 11 of the Best Love Letters in Literature, Both Fictional and Not
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