Guest post: The Lost Art of Handwritten Letters by Tonya Vrba

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of letterwriting, is brought to you by freelance writer and journalist Tonya Vrba.

The Lost Art of Handwritten Letters

Have you ever ventured into a museum and gazed upon an old, handwritten letter? The parchment may have been a political document, a love letter to or from someone at war or a sample from an old diary. These letters send more than simple messages, they give us insight to the lives, cultures and emotions of those who came before us. In our modern age, the art of handwritten letters is nearly obsolete. This should come to no surprise. Why send a letter in the mail when you can always email, text or call someone?

The true value of handcrafted messages hasn’t been lost to people like Frank Warren, who started Post Secret. He has received countless messages in the mail from strangers eager to share a part of their life with the world.  Sure, some people email their secrets, but he has a giant pile of postcards to show some people cherish the art of a hand-made message.

Think about someone you know who is no longer with you. You may think about a family member who passed away or a friend from long ago who you haven’t seen in years. Imagine that every time you thought of them, every time you missed them, you could pull out a piece of paper with a message from them to you. Short or long, important or not, that paper is a way for you to enjoy their presence again. Just at those letters from the museum, the letter brings the person’s life and emotions to your fingertips.

This is why I would urge everyone, no matter your age or writing ability, to think about sending your own hand-written letter to a loved one. It can be for a special occasion or simply because, just make sure it is from the heart. Then you will know a part of you is with them wherever they go.

Love letters can be especially sweet and very important. If ever the two of you are apart and feeling lonely, you can have a comforting message to bring their presence to you. If you feel unsure about what you should write, follow this simple rubric when forming the letter.

If you have a nickname for your lover, use it in the intro. Don’t worry about being fancy; just be yourself. In everyday life you commonly approach your lover and say ‘Hey, Sunshine,’ then start out your letter that way.

If you have a special occasion to write about, you are set for the body of the letter. A random letter may seem a bit more daunting. Reflect on the reason(s) you are writing this letter. Is it because you want them to know you are always with them, because you miss them or because you find yourself so overcome with an emotion you must write it down? Perhaps a combination of reasons is at the heart of your motivation. Whatever your reasons, express them in the first paragraph.

For the rest of the letter, ask yourself why. Why are you overcome with emotion? Why is it important they always know you are there? Empty your heart on the paper. Imagine your life will end tonight. What should they know? What of yourself do you hope they keep with them? What you feel when asking yourself these questions are the dearest and truest human emotions.

A word of caution, don’t stop being who you are. Write as you speak and make sure the words on the paper speak to who you are. Don’t write some crazy elegant prose if that’s not how you would tend to speak aloud. While this article has suggested you think about what you would want your loved ones to know if you happened to no longer be around, avoid sounding morbid. Don’t even mention the idea that you may not always be around. Thinking about what you would want your loved ones to know if you pass away is only meant to help you come up with ideas to write about.

Make sure the most important people in your life know how much they mean to you. Forget the technology and create something they can hold in their hands and close to their hearts.

Thank you, Tonya!

Tonya Vrba is a passionate writer. Her work has been published in newspapers and blogs.


If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with crime and thriller author Colin Llewelyn Chapman – the four hundred and twentieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

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4 thoughts on “Guest post: The Lost Art of Handwritten Letters by Tonya Vrba

  1. says:

    I really love getting a letter in the mail. I love the moment of anticipation just before you open it. Since I love it so I make a point of writing to my friends and family on paper on occasion. It also gives me a perfect excuse to keep buying nice stationary and cards, which I’m a little obsessed with.


  2. Pagadan says:

    Oh, yes. I have letters from my parents, who are long gone, and letters containing family history, and, of course, greeting cards. I can’t save them all, but I can look at them now and then–and use them for display on hoidays, etc..


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