22 Reasons to Write a Letter

by Sarah Winfrey on 6 July 2011 3 comments

My daughter loves getting mail. Since she’s only 18 months old, that doesn’t happen very often. But the journey to the mailbox is still something we do religiously every day, because it brings her so much joy.

Truth be told, I still love receiving packages and letters. Not the junk kind, but the real kind, from friends or relatives, just telling me about their days. But it takes effort to correspond this way, especially in today’s world of easy electronic communication. Here are some times when it’s definitely worthwhile to make that effort. (See also: The Importance of Friendly Letters)

1. Get a Deal

Some companies don’t publish their coupons, but will send them to you if you request them in writing. It’s always good to include a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) when you make your request, too, so it’s easier for them.

2. Express Yourself

Read a newspaper article that you didn’t like? Find an editorial that you could have written better fast asleep? Send the newspaper a letter to let them know what you’re thinking. Maybe they’ll publish it under “Letters to the Editor!”

3. Make Some Change

Tell your Congressman, Assemblywoman, or another politician what you think. While emails and phone calls can work, too, a handwritten letter expressing strong sentiments just might be heard where those aren’t. And you might even get a response, too — after all, even Barak Obama hand writes 10 letters to citizens every day!

4. Cause a Ripple

Interested in changing something in your community but not sure how to go about it? Crafting a letter that you then deliver to every home and business in your area can be a great way to be heard and to find others who agree with you.

5. Have Some Class

Have you ever wanted to feel posh in your communication? Send a letter instead of an email. Bonus points if it’s handwritten.

6. Add That Personal Touch

Sure, most of what you need to tell people doesn’t require a personal letter. But when you want to make sure the recipient of your words knows who you are and that you leave a positive impression, writing a letter instead of sending an email or leaving a voicemail will help you do just that.

7. Get Offline

Give your computer the boot for the day (or the week) and send all your communications by mail. Not only is it a blast from the past, but it lets you unplug, too.

8. Send Your Voice Farther

Though the Internet and email are used widely around the world, there are still places where they aren’t common. If you want to get a message to people in these parts, send a letter. Better yet, get a pen pal and build a relationship.

9. Preserve Memories

Even if your kids don’t remember what’s going on now, they might want to someday. Jotting down little notes for them about events you go to together, special days, and even the things they do that make you smile will help both of you remember what happened and what’s important.

10. Remind Yourself of Now

Sending a letter to your future self might sound pretty cliche, but it’s actually a great way to preserve who you are now, so you can remember later. You may not agree with any of your advice for the future, but you’ll be able to hear your own voice, which might be even better.

11. Speak to the Future

Time capsules are so 1992, but the truth is that they do preserve aspects of an era that are often forgotten. Make your own time capsule for your children or grandchildren by writing letters to them now that they can read in 15 or 20 years.

12. Say “Thanks”

Thank you notes aren’t overrated. In fact, they’re a great way to reach out and touch people. Let them know that you noticed and appreciated their efforts with a special note saying “thanks!

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13. Encourage a Soldier

Whether you agree with the current deployment of troops or not, these folks are risking their lives for the rest of us. Let them know they’re remembered by sending them a letter that says so. Letters to Soldiers is a great place to get started.

14. Communicate With the Elderly

Email is more and more common among older people, but many of them lose the ability to type and read small print eventually. Writing letters allows them to keep in touch with people who love them, and it means so much when you send them something in return.

15. Ask for Help

Customer service being what it is these days, sometimes the best way to get a favorable response is to write a letter. Sure, you have to organize your thoughts and wait for a response, but that’s worth it if your situation is dealt with in a way that makes sense to you.

16. Document Your Concerns

If you have a longstanding beef with a company or a corporation, one of the best ways to show this is to have an extended correspondence on the issues involved. So write your letters and send them off. Even if you don’t get a response, you have ammunition for later.

17. Express Admiration

Is there an author you love, a director whose films never fail to move your heart, or someone else you look up to? Let them know the influence they’ve had on your life with letters. While these may never reach big-name celebrities, they’re the best kind of encouragement to most creative people.

18. Offer Encouragement That Lasts

Encouraging words can be easily said and just as easily forgotten. Make sure the recipient of yours can’t forget them by documenting them in a letter. Who knows? Maybe they’ll find it again, years from now, and tackle something they wouldn’t have had the courage to do before.

19. Give Sympathy

When someone dies, it can be hard to process everything that’s going on. Send your sympathy in a letter, so the bereaved can go back and read it anytime. Include memories of the deceased to make the read a special experience.

20. Get That Job

With the job market being what it is, anything that will give you an edge is worth doing. After you interview, follow up with a thank you note. Be specific, telling the interviewer what you appreciated about meeting them.

21. Leave a Legacy

Write letters to those close to you to be read after your death. This gives you the chance to say all the things that you need to say and gives them a special way to remember you. Even if you’re young, having these prepared can give peace of mind.

22. Make a Child’s Day

Like I said at the start, my daughter loves getting mail. Friends tell me she isn’t alone in that. Make a child happy by sending something, even something small, with their name on the envelope.

Why do you send letters? Let us know in the comments.

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Meg Favreau's picture

I always mean to send more mail -- it's such a pleasure to receive! For a while I kept some postcards and a book of postcard stamps around, and I've been meaning to do that again. It's a quick way to let someone know you're thinking about them, but it feels more meaningful than an email.

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Guest

My boyfriend (now fiance) and I were living in different cities for a few years. Even though we talked on the phone almost daily, we wrote letters to each other every couple of weeks, just to give the other person something to look forward to. I remember always being so excited to find one of his letters waiting for me in the mailbox when I got home!

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Jan

This is such a good article I'm going to get inspired and send some letters to distanced family members and friends!