DISCLAIMER: The letters themselves centered on an extremely serious and sensitive topic. Therefore, out of respect for the delicacy of the situation that necessitated the letters in the first place, I won’t be discussing the content of the letters, nor will I divulge who the letters were written to. Instead, I’ll talk about how I felt as I was writing the letters and the lessons I learned along the way.
Sorry, when you say “letters”, you mean long-form emails, right? No, I mean letters. Correspondence on paper. Using letterhead and stamps and envelopes. *cue the overly-dramatic gasping and fainting* …..Are you okay? Good. Now that you’ve sufficiently recovered, pull up a chair and let me tell you all about it!
Believe it or not, I was scared. That might sound completely ridiculous, coming from a blog writer, but it’s the truth. “Scared” might not be the right word, actually. Let’s call it “intimidated”. Writing anything that comes from the heart – be it a letter or a blog – is not an easy task. For me, writing those letters was more intimidating than writing a blog. Generally, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to say here and how I want to say it. In the case of the letters, however, I had to write from the heart while remaining courteous and professional. I also had not written a letter of any sort in years. I believe this is what’s known in certain circles as a “triple-whammy” (or “conundrum” if you want to be a little fancier about it).
In spite of all my feelings, however, I learned a few important lessons while writing these letters:
#1: I’d forgotten how much I like writing letters. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t written a letter to anyone in years, but when I did, I really enjoyed it. There’s something very fulfilling about slowing down and taking the time to think about how to address someone, what tone the letter should take, the message you’re trying to get across, etc. Incidentally, that brings me to my next point…
#2: TBYS/W & DBATB. Growing up, whenever I had to explain an idea or tell a story about something I’d seen or experienced, I always heard the same two things: Think Before You Speak (that was Mom) & Don’t Beat Around The Bush (Dad would say that to me all. the. time.) It may seem like contradictory advice but, when writing those letters, it was actually very useful. Think Before You Write was good for formatting, editing and proofreading my letters; Don’t Beat Around The Bush helped with getting to the point and keeping each letter down to one page apiece (as opposed to writing something equal to the length of The Faerie Queene). Finally…
#3: Lesson #2 applies to ANY situation in life. So much of modern life is designed to save time, which is why the art of letter-writing has been all but replaced by texts, acronyms, emojis, tweets, and the like. None of these are terrible things in themselves (they’re all designed to make communication easier, after all), but sometimes we end up using these methods in a way that sacrifices effort for the sake of expediency, style over substance and quantity as opposed to quality. I’ve definitely done this in the past, but writing those letters helped me to realize that it’s not a pattern I want to continue. To that end, I’m going to make an effort to be more thoughtful in my posts, my texts and my blog.
What about you? Have you ever had an experience that taught you something about yourself? Let me know in the comments below!