SNAILMAIL TIPS #1| First Letters

6:21 PM


Hello everyone! Hope you are all enjoying this cold days writing lots of loving letters. As for me,  I've been enjoying my cat's company while working on my delayed tasks. One of these days I've decided to take a little poll among our Facebook group, about what themes would readers love to find on the blog, and the most chosen were snail mail tips. In fact, it makes sense, and its kind of odd that I never started it before. Anyways, I'll try to come every week, to give you my snail mail related tips, based on my journey and personal experience with letter writing. I'll start today by telling you about first letters: Presentation Letters!
For me, first letters are definitely one of the hardest ones to write. I often feel lost for quite long minutes looking at the blank page, before I start writing.Although I believe it's completely normal to feel this way. All these years exploring the snail mail world really helped making a model presentation letter for me. I don't mean a standardized letter, but some self-guidelines for how I like  to present myself in mine.
About the lenght of presentation letters: yes.Of course everyone loves long letters, but... Do we love to read an entire biography of every person that we just met? Well, I personally don't. First, because I like to be able to discover others along the letters, to actually share interests and find kindred spirits by chance. Second, whenever I'm writing a presentation letter I like to be selective about the information. Taking count on  two different scenarios: 1. writing to people I absolutely know nothing about and feel uncertain by the follow friendship and 2. writing to someone I had little contact (social media: Facebook, Instagram, and such)
The first scenario is more related to those uncertain persons you've decided to be pen pal with. I think we should all be very conscious when it comes to find a pen pal, but at the same time, we can and should be a little cautious, at some point, for all sorts of reasons. At least, I know I am when it comes to people I absolutely know nothing about. I tend to keep my personal information to it's generals - telling my name, age, nationality and interests  but not quite sharing much intimate information. I explore things I like that really are points of interest in letter writing, in my point of view. It is also a way of finding out if you are a match. 

        Funny story, as an example: I'm a the huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien writing, and once I told about him and his books to a penpal on a presentation letter. She wrote me back telling me how she definetly hated it, how it was filled with ugly dirty wars and people. We didn't clicked until she actually said that she was willing to hear more about it, so I could try and change her mind. It could've worked other ways, and of course it was just a little thing, but it was good in the end.

Second scenario, well... Everyday I get several messages from people asking me to be their pen pal. I don't really like to say know, but I can't tell my personal info the every single person that reaches my Facebook, e-mail, Instagram and such.  I've already had the chance of finding amazing pen pals in all sorts of platforms, and for instance, those who reached me via Instagram are easier to write to just because I was able to get a glimpse of what they like and such, and use similar interest to trigger a nice conversation that would also be as an ice breaker for further conversations. I'd be hypocritical if I said finding pen pals through social media is the best thing in the world, but it isn't the worst either - and in the beginning we sometimes love the "normality" of a penpal's profile (because of the fake ones). 
 So, whenever I'm writing to someone who I've had the chance to "chat" with before its a bit easier to feel proximity, and to kind of "trust" the person for whom I'm writing to. I tell all the general information we all tell in presentation letters, but when in comes to finding similarities, I like to explore those, to tell some nice story or just plain tell what I found about that person that I'd like to learn more about. 
Also, I sincerely think the mood is a key point when writing letters of any kind, but specially presentation letters. Before I struggled that sometimes I might sound a bit negative than what I really was or vice-versa due to the mood I was whenever I sat to write. And in fact, it was notorious that I was able understand the same thing on others letters. That's does not cloud my judgement, but I have to accept other may feel otherwise. I just feel that it must be a time and a moment for each later. We should never be manufacturing words, thinking about everything besides the presentation we are writing about ourselves. 

Language in presentation letter should be always a bit careful, since we don't always know to whom we are talking about. I like my letters to sound natural, like a nice conversation between friends, but even in my routine days I speak different ways to my friend who are aged 18 from those who are aged 60. I try and be as careful and respectful as I'd like others to be about me. 

Since I'm really into Arts & Crafts, I'll be telling something about decorating your letter and/or giving gift: I should in fact be the first to tell you by heart: "Go ahead!", but by experience I advise you not to. I don't want to be misunderstood, and this is my personal opinion, but I learned this is a good way to test true intentions of pen pals that come across. I had several pen pals throughout my project who never replied letters wich were not decorated or containing little treats, and had in fact invited people to leave my project because of similar situations. I may send a local postcard along with the letter, but not much more than that. I never stopped decorating my letters, because it's what I do, but I do tend to be a bit generous to those who are genuine appreciators of letter writing. 

I am like a child on paradise paper when it comes to letter writing. I have a child's handwriting, it's true. I believe it is quite easy to understand, even when I play with it a bit. Anyways, I like to keep my letters as readable as possible, organized and clean. There were situation when I got some very complicated handwritten letters, and some other even had spots of coffee/tea (?) split on it. I felt thankful for the gesture of writing to me, but it'd be great if I could actually read it. I strongly recommend everyone to keep their presentation letters simple, organized, clean and with a nice readable handwriting (don't think you need to design it and all, just have a cup of tea and take your time writing the letter). 

Ask questions and explore the answers! - this applies either to yours and to others.
This is something I consider a key point. Asking questions to ourselves is the best proven way of getting the best accurate selected information to write about. Whenever I'm caught in trouble presenting myself to someone I ask question and answer them in short topics, I can extend in my letter. Take for example:
  • WHERE I AM FROM: You're are not only from a place. You are from a place that you either like or don't. A place that has history to tell, spot a) or b) that for some reason are important to you or just locations you like to visit and recommend. Basically, when you are telling people about your nationality/where you come from - especially when writing to people you don't feel comfortable with sharing private information, yet - you can and should tell a little about the history, the origins, known figure or facts. Remember what I've said about engaging nice conversation by referring trivial facts.
  • WHAT I LIKE: This is easy one,  right? But we don't need to turn our letter into an imdb archive or something. I'm joking. My advice is to be balanced about the amount of information. For instance, I really like cinema, and would write pages and pages about it, but in order not to burden my pen pals with academic essays on movies I select three or four favorite films/directors I'd like to tell about. But if I'm planning to follow this role, both with music and books, I'll end up turning my letter about those, instead of about me. Feel free to recommend others to search for thing you like (you may even you a sticky/side note or something similar to highlight it) but keep it summed up to essentials.
People do like to feel you care for them while their reading your letter, and asking questions is the best way of showing it. So ask them relevant questions, don't waste your time - or theirs - dumping pages of information and not leaving a single question/reference to the other person. Always remember you are writing about you to a real person.



Most important of all, always be honest - a first presentation letter is the perfect moment in time for you to be specific and direct about what you are looking for in a pen pal, in letter writing, in life. Write kind and nicely, but with seriousness, confidence and an open heart. And be yourselves at all times, not only in letters.


I hope this will be of help for your future presentation letters. I love hearing from the readers, so please leave your useful suggestion, feedback or just a hello thrghout the blog comment option or via psenditforward@gmail.com

With love, M.

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