InCowriMo 2016 is nearly upon us! In the run up to it I thought I would a couple of pieces that might spark some ideas for things to write over the next month. I start today with the ‘thank-you’ letter. After all, saying thank-you is a great reason to write.
Gratitude is, I think, one of the virtues that everyone should cultivate, not least because we’ve all at some time been grateful for something or other. But being grateful and communicating it are sometimes two different things and it could be rightly pointed out that gratitude means little if we haven’t voiced it. None of us are perfect here of course, me least of all.
But let’s be frank with one another. The generosity, love, support and kindness of others are things in life that are most worthy of record and thanks. During the next month or so of InCoWriMo one of the best ways we can have of expressing gratitude is the thank-you letter. This particular form of thanks is, in my humble opinion, something of an order of magnitude better than the transient or impersonal nature of text and email. Anytime someone does something that warms your heart. Don’t be stingy rather get to writing a thank-you.
So how do we set about articulating our thanks in a letter? Well perhaps before the how, let’s look together at some of the benefits if you will:
- The opportunity to improve relationships: A timely letter, preferably sent within two weeks or so of the occasion or gift has an almost unique power to share wellbeing and cultivate good wishes between people. We all love receiving handwritten stuff. It really is the next best thing to being there; it’s as if someone has shared just a little bit of themselves.
- The chance to improve your handwriting: Many of us have less than beautiful handwriting. The only remedy for this is practice. So each letter can be a lesson in improving the way we write.
- The opportunity to use a good pen: Need I say more? Probably not but I will. Think of it. The pleasure of a fine pen, with good ink, surfing effortlessly across the page as you go. Writing can be bliss.
- The pleasure of using quality stationery: Having to rummage through a cluttered drawer for an appropriate card every time you need to say ‘thank-you’ will make you reluctant to bother. So invest in some quality stationery and keep it handy. It doesn’t have to be that expensive, but the facts are that the sense of touch can add that little bit extra to the experience of receiving a letter. Remember, a letter is something tangible; it is enjoyed by touch as well as just reading it. People can hold it, treasure it and keep it. It makes your thank-you far more meaningful.
- The joy of using great ink: The writing trifecta is completed by the ink you use. Using good ink adds pleasure in both the writing and the reading. Well behaved ink is a pleasure to use and the range of exquisite shades avalable to fountain pen users in particular can add to the mood and experience of a letter. It conveys feeling and mood in a way that little else can.
- Support your beleaguered postal service: Sending thanks by text or email are definitely convenient. Why should I write a letter then? Well sending a thank-you letter through the post shows that you went out of your way to say something meaningful. It also directly supports your particular postal industry. You might think it’s bad at present and needs improving, but for many of us if we don’t use them we are likely to lose them altogether. So get out there and buy some stamps.
So we’ve amassed our resources. What do we do now? How do we write a good thank-you letter? Well the first thing is to remember that this, thankfully, is not rocket science. But in order to help I’ve jotted down a few tips foryou to consider:
- Be yourself: We‘re not all Tolstoy, and we’re not writing ‘War & Peace’, so don’t try. Be who you are, no more no less.
- Begin by saying thanks: Beginning a letter like this is simple: ‘Thanks so much for xxxxxxx.’ A good way of putting this is to highlight the person’s underlying generosity or kindness rather than the details of the gift itself.
- Give some details about how you felt and what difference the gift might make: If you are thanking someone for an invite to an event, say what you enjoyed about the experience. If you received a gift share what it means to you. This might be especially true for money; tell the giver what you plan to spend it on or what it is you’re saving for.
- In some instances, add some news about what happening with you. This isn’t always appropriate, but if it is, why not paint a brief picture in words of what you’ve been up to recently. (Hint to my children at Uni – this one is for you kids…)
- Land the plane. The hardest part of a thank you letter can be choosing a phrase that appropriately ends a letter. My advice? Be affectionate if that’s appropriate, be warm and informal if you can, always be courteous and respectful.