Modern interpersonal communication is dominated by technology. Amidst emails, texts, and blogs, letter writing is somewhat of a lost art. As such, in order to write an effective letter, it is necessary to distinguish letter writing from electronic forms of communication. Letters from the pre-electronic past can serve as strong reference points for reviving the art of letter writing.
A personal letter communicates thoughts intimately. Although in the past this intimacy was shared through the visceral act of setting paper to pen, letters written with a computer may still exhibit an intimate voice. Where electronic text is very often utilitarian in terms of communicating information, letters communicate a range of emotions, ideas, and experiences.
To be practical, more than likely modern letters will be written and sent electronically. Yet, despite this fact, electronic letters can still reflect the depth of the pen-and-paper letters of the past. As such, the task is to accept the utilitarian nature of electronic communication yet to reject the notion that a letter sent electronically should solely relay information. For example, to address the topic of writing a letter to a young, prospective college student, the idea of “Letters to a Young. . .” may provide a useful guidepost. Many famous writers have written letters as experts to young people aspiring to the same ideals as the writer. Such letters include personal struggles as well as successes, as well as advice for navigating those highs and lows. A few examples of those letters are included for reference. Enjoy reviving the lost art of letter writing!