Writing “Letters” to a Friend


Photo © Shay Thomason, 2009

Over the past few months I’ve begun a correspondence with a friend from college over email that is highly irregular during our times, but something I’ve really enjoyed. What we’re doing may come as a shock to many in our culture, but we’re writing letters to each other. Some looking to judge me are already saying to themselves “oh come on! Letters over email? Lame!” But these “letters”, though delivered electronically, carry more weight to me than any other email I receive. The main reason: they have substance.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that email is horrible or doesn’t serve a purpose, or whatever — that would be wrong. Quick messages to transfer information will always have it’s place. Twitter, instant messaging, Facebook wall-posts, etc. have their place too. But what I’m finding is that as I’ve forced myself to wait to respond to these letters and really write from my heart, I’m getting a lot back from the experience. That’s the trick. We don’t write every day. In fact, we have actually let weeks go by without responding. It’s been a fun way to keep up with a friend that’s over a thousand miles away, but also show him that I’m willing to take the time and write him. I guess those are probably the key ingredients to building a relationship with someone: time and substance. Without both you’ll probably never see any of your relationships grow.

I think you should try it. All it takes is a commitment from another friend that you may not have regular contact with, but want to continue to build a relationship. Take the time to write them about your normal life. What you’re doing at work, or how you’re involved in your church. Tell them about your spouse or your dog, or your love for cars. But make sure you keep it simple as if you were writing with pen. Don’t over communicate, but summarize when the details don’t really need to be explained. Start each letter with “Dear ______” and end it with “Sincerely,” or another appropriate ending. I think it’ll be a rewarding time for you and I can guarantee that both you and your friend will appreciate each other more through the process.

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