How to Write a Love Letter (In Five Easy Steps)

A real, true love letter (I'm not talking about a love Tweet or a love email) is a rare thing to find these days. Do teenagers still write them? (If anyone knows please tell me!) I have written many, both sent and unsent, in my lifetime. But I fear that as letters themselves become more scarce, the art of the love letter could soon be lost to a different era.

But you can change all of that! If you need convincing as to why you should write a love letter to your partner-of-many-years or your brand-new crush, just think about how you felt the last time someone spilled their guts onto a page for you. 

This, but in words. 

This, but in words. 

What? Have you not ever RECEIVED a love letter either? Well if that's the case this is an even more urgent matter. The best way to start getting love letters sent to you is to start writing them yourself. (Just please don't send them repeatedly to the same person who has asked you to stop. Your recipient should be as carefully chosen as your words.)

1. Be Brave

That's an easy step, right!? What I mean by "be brave" is: don't be afraid to be honest. Don't be afraid to be cheesy. The truer you are about your real feelings and the less you filter, the more impact your letter will have on the other person. We are used to hiding our true selves. Out in public, on social media, sometimes even in our closest relationships we do this. Here you have a chance to let your true feelings show. It doesn't matter if you don't think you're a great writer. You don't have to find the "perfect" words to write, as long as you put a little bit of effort into it. Believe me, your vulnerability will be appreciated and respected. Unless the person you have chosen to love is shallow or heartless. In which case, you might want to, you know, dump that person. I'm just saying.

2. Get Poetic

This is not a grocery list you're writing here. You (hopefully) learned what metaphors and similes are in school, even if you're not a big reader nowadays. An example of a metaphor: "You were the wind on the sea."* An example of a simile: "Love is like a child, that longs for everything that he can come by."** Think of two or three comparisons to your love's features, or personality, or to your relationship as a whole, and use them. Refer to Step 1 if you get shy about this. It doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't have to be revolutionary. But avoid clichés. Think of something original. And make sure it's flattering; don't say your partner's eyes are as brown as a dirty, dirty pigeon. Even if they are.

3. Write About the Recipient, Mostly

Because we all tend to talk (and think) about ourselves all the time, you might naturally want to start a lot of your sentences with "I love..." or "I feel..." Scratch those out. Talk about the other person. What is attractive about them? Why do you admire them? What little things have you noticed that perhaps no one else has? You can also include some lines about how that person has affected you/made you feel/changed your life, that's good stuff as well. But make sure the focus is on the other person predominately. The fact that you are noticing all these little things and writing the letter in the first place will clue them in to the feelings you have.

Even if you are a "visual" person, that's no excuse not to write love letters. This letter is from Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera, and it's pretty dang good. (From The Diary of Frida Kahlo.)

Even if you are a "visual" person, that's no excuse not to write love letters. This letter is from Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera, and it's pretty dang good. (From The Diary of Frida Kahlo.)

4. Include Visuals

Presentation counts toward your final grade, people. It's not mandatory to include sketches or doodles or portraits in your letter. They do add a nice touch though, and you can refer back up to Step 1 if you are nervous about your drawing skills. But mostly this step is referring to the care and attention you give to the letter. Don't chicken-scratch your love letter on the yellowed notepad that's been sitting on the back of your toilet for three years. I think you already know this, but I'm just writing it in case there's someone out there who doesn't. Try to make your penmanship neat, even pretty, if you can manage it. Find paper or stationery that is worthy of such an important piece of your heart laid bare. 

5. No Excuses

Leave the letter somewhere that your recipient will just find it, or better yet, send it through snail mail. Even if you happen to live together. Resist the urge to hand the letter over with some excuse or explanation. Don't say, "I wrote this thing, it's kind of stupid but try not to laugh." Don't say, "I guess I was drunk when I wrote this I don't even know what I was thinking." Refer back to Step 1. You don't want to undermine all of your hard work. The impact of your letter will be much, much greater if you don't attempt to deny its sincerity.

 

I'd love to know: does anyone still write love letters? Still receive them? If you have a good love-letter story please share it!

*Kim Patrice Nunez, **Shakespeare