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Writing Love Letters to Strangers: The Agony & The Ecstasy

I’ve been writing love letters to people I’ve never met.

And I gotta tell you, it’s been rough.

It started on December 1 when I discovered Hannah Brencher and her project, The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing. After watching  Hannah’s Ted Talk about her anonymous love letter mission in New York City, I went to her website,  moreloveletters.com, which launched my 12-day adventure into the unknown and enlightening world of writing love letters to strangers.

When I first discovered this project, it immediately appealed to me. Handwritten letters full of love sent to people in need during the holidays. What could be better?

Well… let me tell you, it’s not as sweet as it sounds.

First, let me tell you how it works:

Every day for 12 days, starting on Dec. 3, I receive an email from moreloveletters.com that gives me the first name and a short paragraph or two about a certain someone who, for whatever reason, needs some extra love and encouragement during this holiday season. Then, usually the next day, I make time to sit down and hand-write a love letter to this person. Not a mushy, romantic love letter. A letter of care, unconditional love, encouragement and sincere wishes for this person’s well-being and happiness.

Then, I seal, stamp, and  send each of these letters to a P.O. Box somewhere in Connecticut, where the elves at moreloveletters.com make sure these letters get to the right people.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

But I have to tell you, it’s hard to write a love letter to someone you don’t know. I mean, think about it.

The very nature of letter-writing implies a certain intimacy between sender and receiver, don’t you think? It’s not like sending a greeting card with a snappy, factory-generated message. And if you’re a copywriter like me, who always wants to find the right words and the perfect soul-stirring message, this kind of project will have you banging your head on your desk.

Because after all…

What Do You Say After “Dear So-and-So”?

I’m always talking about the importance of knowing your ideal client or reader inside and out before you write one single solitary word of copy or content. I’m always saying, you have to know what this person thinks, feels, believes and eats for breakfast if you want to communicate in a way that connect and resonates with that person.

Yet, here I am trying to write letters to people whom I don’t know at all… except for a few facts about their current situation. I don’t know where they live, how old they are, what they do in their spare time, what lights them up or brings them down. I don’t even know what they think or how they feel about their current situation. Much less what words to offer that might soothe their heart and let in a little light.

And that’s why this process a challenge for me.

But it’s also been a huge gift. One that I will give to you.

It’s Not Always About the Message.
It’s About the Energy Behind That Message.

Several times during this love letter writing project, when I had my love letter of the day signed, sealed, stamped and ready to hit the mailbox, I would think, “What’s the point? I know I didn’t write anything that will make any significant impact on this person’s experience. In fact, I bet he (or she) will read it and think, ‘What the bleep is this nonsense?’ Why am I even sending this?”

And then the lights in my temporarily one-dimensional, dim-witted brain lit up…

WHAT I wrote doesn’t matter. The fact that I wrote, does.

As Hannah mentioned in her TED talk, the power of my letter is not in the message or the writing or even in my ability to know or understand what this person is going through. The power is in the fact that I took the time to sit my ass down, pull out pen and paper, focus my full attention on this person and communicate my heartfelt wishes for their well-being and happiness.

It’s not the words that matter all that much. It’s the energy and intention behind those words that infuse these letters with love and the power to uplift, inspire, encourage and heal.

In my profession and even in my personal life, the right words are so important to me. They have the power to either create a connection or destroy one. They can open someone’s heart or bore him to tears. They can make the sale or lose it, inspire a response or cause someone to click “delete.”

In my world, the right words matter.

But equally important is the energy and intention with which those words are written. Not just when writing love letters, but when writing anything!

Now when I write my love-infused letters to these people I don’t know, I’m no longer struggling with WHAT I’m writing but relaxing into WHY I’m writing: to reach out and let someone know that he or she is not alone, that someone is thinking of them and cares about their happiness and well-being. Now I let go of my need to write the “right” thing and instead connect with the energy of Divine Love and my heartfelt desire to uplift, encourage and soothe the sharp edges of someone’s challenge, grief or upset.

May Everything We Write Be A Love Letter

We’re coming to the end of the year. We’re in the throes of a busy holiday season. And I bet you’ve got stuff to write! I know I do.

Like emails, sales pages, product pages and probably a holiday card or two.

What might happen if when you write your emails, pages and such, you wrote it as if you were writing a love letter? To your clients, your prospects, whomever. No, not a mushy, lovey-dovey letter! Create a message that will resonate deeply with whomever will receive it while at the same time being aware of the energy you send along with those words.

Can you infuse your words with a silent but sincere wish for your reader’s happiness and well-being?

I’m going to, so why not join me? Write your sales pages and email campaigns as if you’re writing a love letter to your client or prospective client. Send along your sincere wishes for their well-being, health and happiness. You don’t have to put that wish into actual words; just let the energy of that wish flow into whatever words you write.

I’d love to hear how this love letter approach affects what you write and the responses you receive. Share your discoveries here by leaving it in the comment section. Or please feel free to share on my Firecracker Facebook page!

8 comments to Writing Love Letters to Strangers: The Agony & The Ecstasy

  • Nancy ~ you are so very very right on the mark again. First of all, hand-written notes (even simple thank you one’s) are so underused and their energy can be so powerful. I’m beginning to write my Happy New Year Letter to my clients and it’s been hard because i was in the space of ‘what can I possibly write that they will want to read’ …. but I’m going to go create a space to write a love letter with intentional energy for their best New Year ever!

    Thank yOU!!!!!!!!!!

  • Love the idea of the love letters…been at times in a place where I could have used a love letter.
    But, i don’t know, Nancy, sometimes it is easier to write a love letter to someone who is an unknown entity, if you let Spirit guide your heart and hand.
    Thanks for sharing the idea. Maybe next year I will embark on that journey and see where it leads me.

    • Nancy

      You know, Lilia, I thought it would be easy, too. But I realized that I’ve been so trained to KNOW whom I’m writing to, that I had to jump over that hurdle to just let Love lead the way. Today I wrote another love letter, and again, I felt like it sucked, that it would have no value to the receiver. I had to remind myself, again, that it’s the love with which the letter is written… not the actual words.

      This is obviously MY issue, and I’m so appreciative of this chance to get over it already!

  • Handwritten notes and letters … such a lost art. I can remember getting excited finding letters in my mailbox in college. As a recipient of them, they gave me energy, intention and drive. :)

  • Nancy, I love this! and the TED talk was great. I just signed up. Can’t wait to get an assignment. Martia

  • Yay! I am SOO doing this! My New Year’s resolution (no. 503 I think…) will be to do exactly this – write more from the heart in all my communications with my audience – whether or not they’re clients.

    Thanks for sharing this gem Nancy!

  • Wow, Nancy, your writing from the heart is well, right on. I have committed to living all out, but I think I hold back a little bit in writing to an “audience.” But there are so many real, live people out there who need to be encouraged and want to know we care about them. Thanks for posting this…and encouraging me to write more from my heart.

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