A Guide to Letter Writing

A Guide to Letter Writing

May 07, 2019

Here at Duckfeet USA we believe in the beauty of hand-crafted products. In line with faster-isn't-better, we want to talk about one of our favorite, nearly lost arts: handwritten letters.

When was the last time you saw an email come in, made a mental note to read it later, and then suddenly weeks have passed and that message is still untouched? (don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there)

Now imagine receiving a handwritten letter. In the actual mail. And it’s not even your birthday! I highly doubt that you’d forget to read that message. You’d want to know who took the time to write to you and what on earth is important enough to write, word by word, their message.

We agree that receiving mail is fun, but so is sending it. Let’s break down how easy it is to surprise someone with a thoughtful letter.

Where To Begin - A Checklist

STATIONARY:

Sure, you can scribble a letter on a sheet of notebook paper with torn perforated edges hanging all over the place. That does work if you’re going for that timeless notes-passed-between-classes vibe.

However, my personal suggestion is to use this writing activity as an excuse to visit one of those heavenly local paper shops. Find some stationary that’s calling your name. You’re taking the time to write, so choose paper that matches the occasion.

TIP: When I’m traveling, I buy handmade cards as a souvenir. It’s fun because 1: I get to buy something while on vacation 2: My house isn’t getting cluttered with tchotchkes, and 3: It’s an excuse to send someone I love a handwritten hello.

WRITING TOOL:

Okay, now you’ve gotten your stationary and have a beautiful, yet very blank canvas. You may feel tempted to put that stationary into your printer and then type up your message. Maybe you’ve been told that your handwriting is sloppy. But you know what? It’s yours. So embrace it, just take it slow. A little messy will always win over computer-generated, trust me.

The right tool can make all the difference. I recommend avoiding pencils (your words are less likely to fade). In my experience, fountain pens write the smoothest but may require some practice (be sure your paper is bleed-resistant). For those looking for something with a bit more ease, the ball-point pen is a convenient and smooth alternative. As for ink color, that’s up to you! Try to go for something that pops against your paper choice.

TIP: For the extra-curious, here’s a guide to choosing the best fountain pen. Have troubles with arthritis or other hand pain? Here’s a list of ergonomic pens that may work for you!

SENDING SUPPLIES:

This may seem like the boring part… Envelope - check. Stamp - check. Address - check.
But we do get to have a bit more fun here.

If you go to a stationary shop, they may have a lot of unique envelopes to choose from that can add a touch more character to your letter-sending venture. If nothing catches your eye, you could also make your own! Whether you have a uniquely sized letter, or some really cool paper you’re dying to make use of, or just plain ran out at home, here’s a guide to making your own envelope that’s as quick & easy as four folds.

Once you’ve chosen an envelope, you’ll need to make sure it’s sealed up. I’m sure you’ve had at least ONE experience with that bitter-tasting letter glue (not to mention the risk of paper cut where we absolutely do not want one). If you have an envelope with glue sealing, try just using a water-dipped finger instead. Plus, take it one step further with a wax seal. This detail can add a bit more contrast and care. Haven’t tried seals before? Here’s a quick how-to for making a wax seal (take care: does include use of flame).

As for the stamp, you’ll want to check the going rate and be sure that (if you haven’t mailed a letter in a while) your stamps are sufficient. I recommend stocking up on forever stamps, and you’ll typically have a few of designs to choose from!

TIP: International stamps are priced a little higher - be sure to get global stamps for those overseas penpals.

What to Write

Ok, now that you have your supplies, you just need some actual words to write. This may seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Are you writing because of an occasion (like, perhaps Mothers Day??). Start off with that. If following up after that greeting is leaving you blank, look around for inspiration. Are you a fan of poetry? Write out one of your favorite poems, lines from a song, or quotes from a book you’re reading with a simple “This made me think of you.”

Another option is to print out a photograph of you together or of a place you both love with a simple “Remember when?” Chances are they do.

TIP: Ready to send? Here’s the technical stuff you need to know about addressing.

When to Write

Take any excuse to send a letter! Holidays are always easy and Thank You cards don’t need to be reserved for weddings. Send a thank you for hosting; thank you helping; thank you for sharing your gift; thank you for making the world a better place! You get the idea. If someone is special to you, tell them.




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