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Photo: gbaku

Take a break from blogging, emails, and Twitter for a second and write a letter.

TIME IS SHORT and so are our communications; emails are often non-grammatical bursts of information. Status updates are ephemeral and often trite. Blogs can help you express and communicate, but usually aren’t written for a specific person.

Nothing electronic is as intimate as a letter for personal communication. There’s the tactile sensation of the paper. The swirl of the script. Nothing will ever replace it.

Follow These few simple rules and write a letter anyone would be touched to receive.


1. Take your time.

Writing a good letter takes time. Your recipient will value the thought and time you spend with your letter so allow as much time as you need.

2. Craft good salutations.

Be creative with your salutation, it sets the tone of what’s to come. Let your salutation describe the person to which you are writing i.e “My Dearest Mother.”

Accordingly, at the end of your letter describe yourself and your feelings toward the person you are writing ~ “Your Loving Son” or “Your Faithful Lover Who Waits with Passion Burning.”

3. Make it personal.

Your letter should come from the heart. Dig deep. Try to express your emotions and thoughtfully describe your thoughts and the journey you are on.

No one wants to get a letter that sounds like it could be to anyone, so go ahead, get personal.

4. Don’t make it all about you.

Ask your recipient how they are doing. Inquire about their circumstances as you last heard…how is the new baby? Did that nasty rash ever clear up? Make your letter a two way street, ask questions that beg a response. Don’t just have a monologue, begin a conversation.

5 Write it by hand.

Do not type your letter. Subpoenas are typed, not letters. And don’t email it! Then it is an email and not a letter! Write your letter by hand in the most legible, pleasant script you can muster. Find a good pen, one that writes smoothly and evenly. Don’t use a pencil. Pencils smudge and should your letter be the stuff of legends you don’t want it to fade over the years.

Community Connection

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? Who are you going to write you letter to? What’s the best letter you ever received or sent? Let us know in the comments.

Want to learn the craft of travel writing?

Sign up for Matador’s new Travel Writing School and get the skills you need to write moving letters and articles.

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About The Author


Joshywashington is a Travel Media Ninja from Seattle who enjoys writing, climbing trees and strong coffee.

  • JoAnna


    So do I start a letter to you “My Dearest Dusty Friend” and end it “Your Fellow Matadorite Who Yearns for Global Adventures and Mind-Bending Moments?”

    Honestly, though, I’m a huge fan of writing letters. In fact, I wrote four of them just the other day. There is nothing like getting a hand-written letter ~ and nothing like writing one in return. It takes time, thought, a moment to really focus on something other than the world speeding on around us.

    • Joshywashington

      Darling dust blown JoAnna,

      I did this post to kick myself in the pants…I have been putting off writing a few letters for too long. I am going to write one to my wife, myself, my grandma and my friend who needs a few supportive words right now.

      Your fuzzy glove,

  • Megan Hill

    I love getting snail mail! I should send more of my own, though…

    (Love that the byline on this piece is Joshywashington!)

  • Joshywashington

    I searched facebook for Joshua Johnson and no less than 4,800 results came up, 14 for Seattle.
    Joshywashington on the other hand…

  • vmcalves

    Oh I love snail mail! I write postcards to everyone I know every time I visit a new place and have been exchanging letters with my best friend since we both moved countries. :)

  • Greenheart Travel

    I carry a book of stamps with me at all times! There is nothing better than being surprised by a letter instead of the usual bills and junk mail. A great article topic in a world that is all about immediate communication and instant gratification.

  • Nancy

    Love the post and love a great letter. Such a cool, romantic artform.


    Great article. Letter writing has almost become extinct thank to the “electronic” age. It’s easy to send an email or text message. Thanks for reminding us that lettering writing is a beautiful art form. It’s a great reminder for travel writers and travelers to write a letter the next time you travel!

  • Angela Siles

    Today, I will write a letter to myself and the journey I’m going through.

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