April 29, 2011
While talking with my neighbor about letter writing, she exclaimed: “It takes too much time to write a letter!”
This is probably the major reason for the massive decline in personal letters, the time factor. I am such a huge fan of letter writing, I feel the time invested is part of the gift. The gift of my time.
However, let me speak to those who think they don’t have the time, but wish they did.
Let’s focus on writing a note which is short and covers one topic briefly. Like postcards, sending a note is an easy way of getting back into the writing habit. Now, let’s examine the top ten excuses M. Shepherd points out-
1. “I’m too busy.” Honestly look at all the various ways in which we waste time or lose time. “Where did the time go?”- we say as we move away from the computer or the TV. We easily talk on the phone for endless minutes, whereas, it takes maybe five minutes or less to put together the elements to address an envelope.
2. “Writing is a dying art. Nobody writes any more.” It is not dying, but it is an art. Perhaps you don’t get as many notes in your mailbox as you used to. That is the precisely why your note is more valuable than ever. And by far, it is still the most personal way to communicate.
3.“My handwriting is terrible.” We all complain about our handwriting. You are probably just rusty and out of practice. The recipient is far less critical than you are. Chances are they simply like your handwriting because it represents you. Improving your handwriting is easy with a little commitment.
4. “I have nothing to write on.” Keep things simple. Look for paper that is pleasing to look at, a fun postcard or an appropriate greeting card.
5. “I don’t know what to say.” There is plenty of help for this. Remember to be courteous. Use words like “please, thank you, I’m sorry, and I miss you.” What you say in conversation works just as well on paper. The gesture of writing will be remembered far more than your specific words. And as with your handwriting, finding just the right words will improve with practice.
6. “I’m going to run into them before this note would arrive.” Do it anyway. The unexpected note will enhance any relationship.
7. “It won’t get there in time.” Margaret Shepherd suggests sending an email to say a “note follows.” Notes can also be hand delivered.
8. “I won’t have a copy of what I wrote.” Personally, I write an outline and a rough draft of the points I want to make, which can be considered a record. One can always photocopy a note.
9. “It’s a girl thing.” All the Founding Fathers wrote notes. Real men write notes, you can to.
10. “I’m too late!” Then by all means just do it. Guilt is an extremely useless feeling. Write the same note you would have written earlier. Simply include a brief apology for being late. Better late than never!
References and helpful books:
*Margaret Shepherd, The Art of the Handwritten Note, A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication.
© 2002 Broadway Books
*J. Beverly Daniel, Finding the Right Words,Perfect Phrases to Personalize Your Greeting Cards.
© 2003 Pocket Books
*Robyn Freedman Spizman, When Words Matter Most,Thoughtful Words and Deeds to Express Just the
Right Thing at Just the Right Time.
© 1996 Crown Publishers