We’ve all become accustomed to emails and text messages, neither of which requires us to write in complete sentences or even complete words! The result is that some of us have literally forgotten how to sit down and write a cohesive, logical, thoughtful letter. If you are feeling stuck, you are not alone! Simply ask yourself the following questions. Jot down your answers on a piece of scratch paper, and keep your notes close as you begin drafting your letter. By incorporating your answers into your letter, you’ll be sure to say what you want to say in exactly the way you want to say it.
- To whom am I writing?
Consider your reader’s point of view. Put yourself in his or her place and envision how you might react upon receiving the same note. How do you want them to respond or react? (i.e. Happy, sympathetic, encouraging, grateful, etc.)
- What am I trying to say?
Sometimes we all need to go back to basics when it comes to communication. Think about the most important thing you wish to get across in your letter. It may just be a word or two. (i.e. I miss you, I’m sorry, I need your help, Congratulations, etc.)
- Who am I?
It sounds silly, but you may need to consider this, depending on the type of letter you are writing. If the reader does not know you or does not know you very well, you will likely need to identify yourself right away. (i.e.I am an employee, I am a friend, I am new to the neighborhood, etc.)
- What do I want to happen next?
This is pretty self explanatory, but it’s extremely important to this process. If you don’t know the answer, how can you expect your reader to? (i.e. I would like an interview, I want to know what’s new with you, I just want you to know I’m thinking of you, etc.)
- What type of impression do I want to make?
This will help you determine how casual or formal your letter will be, which can be expressed through everything from the type of stationery you use to the language you use to express yourself. (i.e. relaxed, casual, formal, professional, etc.)