So you have found yourself a pen pal. Now what do you write? Getting mail seems like a wonderful prospect until you have to write back. What do you say? In this post I will tell you what to write in an introductory letter. Then I will tell you about topics to write about as your relationship grows. Okay, lets start with the introductory letter. You’ve got your pen pal and you have to write. If you are writing first, I would include the following:
1.Give your name. Write something along the lines of “Hi! My name is Jane.”
2. Tell why you are writing to them. “I got your name from XYZ or I saw you name on XYZ and I would like to know if you want to be pen pals?” You may have just talked to them thru instant message, but you still need to say where you “met.” They may be getting a lot of inquiries from people looking for pen pals. People who could have the same or a similar name as you do. It’s a good way to jog their memories.
3.Start by telling your new pal about yourself. Write about your age, if you are married or dating someone, children, pets, and where you live. Where you live can describe your home, your dorm room, your town or your state. In the first letter you just want to give a little bit of info on yourself. You can save additional or more in depth explanations for future letters. Often times many pen pals will only write one or two letters and then drop you. I think sometimes people realize that there is some work to having a pen pal and cannot keep up. It’s unfortunately very common. Don’t be discouraged.
4.Finally, write about your hobbies and what you enjoy doing. In this spot you can talk about your love of painting, watching “I Love Lucy” reruns, and traveling to the farmers market. Again, go into general topics, you can go into specifics in later letters. So for instance, you like art. You can say “I love art, especially still life. ” That’s in the first letter. For the second or third you can go into your favorite artists or paintings in that style. You can tell a story about seeing a work of art in person. Think how you can describe your experience to someone who has no senses.
Okay, now you have gotten your first letter out of the way. I’ve mentioned how to turn one subject, art, into a multi-letter topic. What are some other topics you can cover? Here’s a list: home, decor, weather, news, shopping, internet sites, blogs, podcasts, books/reading, travel, health/fitness, specific global events like the Olympics, antiques, outdoors, sports, leisure activities, dance, crafts, history, science, volunteer work, social issues, theater, writing, collecting, and so much more. Always try to think of a way to add more details and evolve the story. The good news is you don’t have to put everything in one letter.
You may be writing to a pal after a very busy time. That’s a great topic for a letter. You may find that you are so busy you don’t need to use any of the above topics for certain letters. Your current events take up all the space. Also, the opposite can be true. Nothing may be going on. Sounds like quarantine doesn’t it? That’s a great time to pull out a topic. Ask questions and also respond to questions asked of you. If you choose to ask a question, answer it as well. So if you write “What book are you reading now?” Make sure you tell them what book you are reading too. Remember, the whole point is to develop a relationship with someone who has a different life than you.
If there is some information that you do not want to share and a pen pal has asked just respond politely. Simply say “I don’t like to talk about politics.” Or you can choose to answer it a different way. If someone asks if you have a particular political association you can also say “I don’t want to share that it is personal.” As a rule politics, and religion can cause friction. Wait until you have established a friendly and longer relationship with your pal. Then ask if they would like to discuss it. If not then leave it alone. If yes, then take it slow and be sure to explain in detail issues or system your pal’s nation does not have. The point isn’t to argue and invalidate your writing partners point of view. It’s to learn to listen respectfully, to ask questions and disagree respectfully without fighting.
How is that for ideas? I hope I have given you some ideas of what to put in your letters. Many of these topics can be used with family, or long distance friends. I realize it is much easier to email or text something to someone. I find that a person who takes the time to write a letter often writes pages instead of a few lines. To me, that is worth it. I love going to the mailbox and finding a letter. It always fills me with joy and I hope you experience the same.