The Write Practice

The Online Writing Workbook

How to Write a Love Letter

Audrey Chin windThis guest post is by Audrey Chin. Audrey is a published author and poet publishing her third novel. This month, Audrey is giving away a copy of her book of poems, “Sometimes Words Help,” free to subscribers. You can sign up here.

In the age of Twitter and text messages what does it feel like to receive an old-fashioned love letter?

love letter

Photo by martinak15

I imagine a curly headed man in his thirties, opening Elizabeth Barrett’s ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’ and catching his breath as he reads the first lines of Sonnet #33:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

Robert Browning was a vigorous worldly man. The writer of the sonnets, Elizabeth Barrett, was a secluded sickly woman six years older. It was the 1840s. Still reader, he married her!

Move Someone’s Heart

It’s amazing what words can do. So move someone’s heart this week. Write a love letter today. Here’s how:

1. Begin by yourself.

Get in the mood. Snuggle up in an armchair, sit under a tree in your favourite park, go for a walk down that alley the two of you always take as a short cut. Whatever, be comfortable. Feel thankful, oh so thankful.

2. Close your eyes and think about your loved one.

What’s the best time you had together? What’s that irritating thing he does which you’d missed most if he were gone? What have you been wanting to tell her for the last 3 delirious months? Be open. Be brave.

3. Free Write.

Now, free write for fifteen to thirty minutes.

4. Don’t look.

Afterward, don’t look at what you’ve written. Just save your work and leave it for a day.

5. With heart in mouth, prepare to send…

When you’re almost ready, go back and do a quick edit. Don’t second guess yourself. You want your words to be quick and true.

6. Stationery

Get your words set out on good stationery. If you can still remember the copper plate you learnt in grade school, use handwriting. But if all you can manage is an illegible scrawl, then use your printer.

7. Send

Then, Fold it into a pretty envelope and send. Or better still delivery it personally, hand to hand, face to face.

Have you ever written a love letter? Tell us the story.

PRACTICE

There are still a few days left to make your love letter perfect before Valentine’s day. And if you’re brave enough, share your love letter here in the comments section.

Good luck!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

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  • Audrey Chin

    Here’s my practice

    Dear …

    After rain, in the hour before dinner, I watch the two of you – father and son – playing tag. Next door, the migrant workers are drilling into darkness.

    And suddenly I’m overwhelmed that we’re together, not just a grace before eating but everyday.

    Thank you for being you, being present.

    Love

    Me

    • eva rose

      That is beautiful and simple! Love it!

    • Tom Wideman

      Audrey, that’s beautiful. I love how you take a random, simple moment in time and express how it leads you to be grateful for your love. Inspiring.

      • Audrey Chin

        Thanks Tom. Take a look at Sometimes Words Help and see if you like the poems in there too.

    • http://www.buckleadership.wordpress.com/ Justin Buck

      I love the line “the migrant workers are drilling into darkness.” I’m not sure if it’s a reference to overheard fighting or not, but in the context it seems right. The other image I got was drilling for oil (also quite noisy). But I love that in the middle of the paragraph there’s that stunning revelation in such a simple moment.

      What a beautiful note for your partner– in child-rearing and in life!

      • Audrey Chin

        Hi Justin, it’s the construction workers who come to Singapore alone. They usually don’t have families and live on site, so they often work late into the night.It seemed so sad to me, how alone they were while I had the benefit of family with me all the time. I realized I just didn’t appreciate them enough.

        • http://www.buckleadership.wordpress.com/ Justin Buck

          How profound! It’s so interesting that in different parts of the world we have such different experiences that are so similar. For instance, in North Dakota (USA) Migrant workers from all over the country are rushing to take advantage of the oil boom. So much like the migrant workers in Singapore, they’re often alone traveling for financial benefit.

          What a great line. What a profound insight as to the magnitude of your blessings.

  • eva rose

    I love the idea of a hand-written letter. And sending something original, not from a card store. Thanks for this reminder to capture the special moments of life and to tell the ones we love!

    • Audrey Chin

      It needn’t be very long at all Eva, as you can see in my practice. Have a wonderful rest of the week writing you Valentines.

  • staci troilo

    I used to write my husband a love letter every holiday, especially on Valentine’s Day. Since the kids got older and life got in the way, that tradition has fallen by the wayside and Hallmark has been the beneficiary of our hectic schedules. You’ve inspired me to bring the tradition back. Thanks Audrey.

    • Audrey Chin

      Go for it Staci!

  • Kathy

    I have gotten in the practice of sending a nice card with a short poem that I compose for my friends or family. It gives me time to think of the person and they feel I put effort in formulating some prose that hopefully conveys my feelings about the person. The book, “Sometimes Words Help,” should be a good addition to anyone who writes, poems or books.

    • Audrey Chin

      Thanks Kathy! I hope you’ll find the book useful.

  • http://twitter.com/jmakeandcreate Jocelyn

    I always get sad thinking that letter writing has become less and less common. Why write out our words when we can quickly type up an email, tweet or Facebook message? What I’ve been *trying* to do is keep a sort of journal that is more of a continuous letter to my husband. It’s probably very corny, but I want there to be a hand written record of the many things we have and have yet to go through. Thank you for the post!

    • Audrey Chin

      That’s such a good idea Jocelyn, a continuous love letter! I used to journal more regularaly, and one year I hand copied some of the most meaningful journal entries into a pretty notebook as a birthday gift for my husband. He loved it. When we moved though, the box he put it in got misplaced. Thank goodness I had the originals.

  • http://twitter.com/thewestwightway KellyDaniel

    Dearest you,
    I could tell you how much I love you. I can talk and use words that others have used before me and have stumbled over. Feelings they wanted to sing to you but couldn’t; shied away from exposing themselves at their very core – too vulnerable by far. But spoken words are as dust blown by a wind, only a shadow of them remain after the merest of moments. They do not last.

    But if I write, well, those words will remain as long as this letter of my love is held in your hand and in your mind or the ink refuses to fade through the severest of life’s agonies. My letter will last as long as you for once read it becomes a part of you. Even discarded or burnt the letter cannot be unwritten, the script cannot be unformed, nor love’s language erased. It will not change and neither will my love.

    I want to say, i need to say, with my heart ringing and my mind chiming, that your face is my silence and peace, your hand is my heart, your eyes are my eternity, as they hold my soul, mine with yours. You are all my joy and all my sadness. Your presence or absence is my clock and so ticks past my day, my life, wound by yours. And if you go, I will always be at the door waiting for you to come home.

    Yours

    • Audrey Chin

      This is so beautiful Kelly. I love the idea that the words will remain as long as your love is held in your loved ons’ hand and mind. Even though it’s lovely to get the material letter, it’s the feelings transmitted that persist. Thank you for sharing this letter.

  • http://www.buckleadership.wordpress.com/ Justin Buck

    It’s easier for me to type out my feelings; my poor penmanship helps me decide to use the keyboard more often. But my hand-written letters, scratched out to those who mean something to me, are appreciated a thousand times more!

    • Audrey Chin

      Justin, the more rare things are, and the more effort they require, the more treasured they are. Are you hand-writing a love letter this Valentine’s Day then?

      • http://www.buckleadership.wordpress.com/ Justin Buck

        I will be. But I want to get it just right. Ha! Is it ever just right? I’ll be sure to post it when I’m satisfied.

  • http://twitter.com/lmccy La McCoy

    Audrey, Such nice work! lmc

  • http://www.ipaintiwrite.com/ Pamela Hodges

    I will write a letter to my mother tonight. I will tell her how much I miss her, and how much she means to me. I haven’t seen her in over two years. Thank you for a wonderful post.

    • Audrey Chin

      Pamela, your mother will be so happy! Are you going to do it with pen on paper or through an email?

      • http://www.ipaintiwrite.com/ Pamela Hodges

        I write her every night on the computer. I will paint her a picture on a card and write something mushy inside. I like to make my mom cry.

  • Julia

    Thank you! My husband and I are skiing with friends, staying in a big jumbled up house. I’ve been wracking my brains about what to do for Valentine’s Day. Now to find a few minutes alone. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Audrey Chin

      HOpe you had a good Valentine’s.

  • Hope Mendola

    Dear Jon,

    It’s the night before Valentine’s Day, I’m sitting at my kitchen table with a candle and cup of tea. I’m not sad, but I’m solemn. The world has been spinning around me and I fear I’ve lost myself in the whirl. I wish you were here to set me straight. You were always so good at that.

    I haven’t been sleeping at night. My mind wanders to the people we were, the places we’ve been. That one time in Brooklyn we got lost and refused to ask for directions. God, we were stupid. I remember being so scared we would have to sleep on the street. I didn’t want you to know, I didn’t want you to think I was weak. Were you thinking the same thing?

    It’s been so long since I’ve done something that scares me.

    Work is okay. Some days I love it, some days I look up flights to Austin. Australia. Anywhere. I’m not running away from anything, there’s just no reason to stay.

    I do have a garden though.

    You always wondered if I would be a caretaker or not. My garden may weeds, but it also has life. And dammit, I’m taking care of it. I even I read an article on Oprah.com about protecting your garden over winter. Yes, me – I did that.

    I’m simultaneously embarrassed and proud of myself.

    Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night I think about my garden. And the Oprah article. I can’t seem to shake the last line from my memory, “Plants don’t really die. They’re still alive underneath the snow.”

    Can this be true? Can something that has every appearance of being dead actually come to life once again?

    My last memory of us is when you stood by my bed, tears streaming down your cheeks. We’ve seen each other since then, but whatever held us together was buried that day.

    I know I said I was solemn, but maybe I meant sentimental. My mind can’t escape all the years, the miles, the late nights and long weekends…and now this letter.

    The candle is dim and my tea is cold, I guess I should go to bed now.

    Happy Valentine’s Day.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      So good, Hope. That last line works so well to punctuate the rest of this piece. I like the way you jump from topic to topic seemingly at random but clearly because of some backstory between the narrator and Jon. It gives good insight into their relationship. It’s just really well done.

    • Audrey Chin

      Hope, this is truly heartfelt. I love the way we get the whole story from these random thoughts. I especially love the last 2 paragraphs… where you say your mind can’t escape … and now this letter. And then the cold tea. It’s sad, but it lingers.

  • http://twitter.com/mwrites_ Mel

    A beautiful way to celebrate something so sacred and commonplace. :-) Loved this post, Audrey!

    • Audrey Chin

      Thanks Mel

  • Steve Stretton

    This is a variation of something I wrote a many years ago. Francophones please forgive the school-boy French!

    Je ne comprend pas pourquoi je t’aime
    Peut-être c’est ton nom, Charmaine
    Peut-être c’est tes yeux si bleues
    Je ne sait que tu me remplit le coeur
    De tout l’amour et tout la joie
    Que touts les aimants jeunes et vraie
    Se sentira demaine, se sont sentis hier.

    Please feel free to correct the grammar etc. The last line I had to have translated care of the internet. I’m convinced it’s wrong but can’t remember the correct tenses. It certainly doesn’t scan very well.

    Still it’s the thought that counts!

    • Steve Stretton

      I made a grave mistake in posting this. It seems worse every time I see it. Please remove it. I am utterly embarrassed.

      • Audrey Chin

        HI Steve, What’s important is that you wrote and I hope that act of writing clarified things for you.

  • Missaralee

    *This love letter idea got into my psyche and I ended up writing not one, but two spoken word love poems. Anyway, here is the one that ends cheerfully. If I make the fourth round in tomorrow’s huge poetry slam competition I will be dropping this on the mic.*

    “Love is a Verb”
    Love is a verb
    Not a passive word
    Not an act of pacification
    But an action hero like Jason Statham and Jake Gyllenhall
    Or better yet,
    If same sex impregnation were science fact,
    What their love child would be like…
    Anyway, love is like speed
    Not the drug,
    But the one with Keanu and Sandra and bus on the run:
    You can’t stop or you know you’ll explode
    Love is a verb
    To say it without accompanying pantomime is a lie
    To love is live action.
    So I never SAY it,
    At least not to you.
    My mum, my new gloves, Bruce Willis,
    They all get labelled with my love
    But not you, and I know that it bothers you
    When I’m running my fingers through your hair
    You ask me what I’m thinking
    You won’t admit, but you wish I would say something
    Tell you that one thing you long to hear
    Or at the very least confirm your fears
    That I’m not really here,
    That I’m already miles away,
    And you’re left waiting for the break, so you can heal
    Think this through:
    I am running my fingers through your hair.
    Lying here next to you.
    My skin pressed to yours.
    You already know what I’m thinking.
    “If I move money from my savings to my RRSP account,
    can I get back enough in taxes to buy a new water heater?”
    I know your blood is otherwise occupied,
    But apply your considerable mind to the problem, man!
    Here I am. With you. Not at home sleeping like I really should be,
    Not in some other mister’s bed, or at the bar, or washing my filthy car.
    I’m here
    My heart as far from yours as the thickness of two ribcages.
    I would break through just to get closer to you, if only I could,
    But that would take both of our breath away and not in a good way
    And the ambulance driver probably wouldn’t let us stay
    Entangled this way.
    ‘Cause I doubt they have queen beds in the intensive care unit
    For lovers like us that can’t bear to be separate.
    So, until I find a less gory solution,
    I’m sorry
    For this unfathomable distance between us.
    Love is a verb
    And I’m doing it right now,
    Your hand locked in mine,
    Between your flannel sheets, entwined.
    Would you really feel better if I SAID it?
    Would it resolve your deep doubts,
    Even if I wasn’t sure and later came to regret it?
    Look, I know I’m a writer and poet and all,
    But I’m not prone to throwing emotionally charged words around
    I know I said that one time that we’re “just friends”
    But look where we are, friend
    Clearly, I am a liar
    So you probably shouldn’t put much stock in the words of my mouth
    If you’ve got to count on something,
    Let it be the fingers on my hands.
    Tracing pictographs of ancient love on your back
    Love is a verb
    So pretend like you’re deaf
    and like I’m mute
    (holds out hands)
    and accept it.

  • http://kathleencaron.com/ Kathleen Caron

    I wish I had seen this sooner,it’s awesome. I was off Facebook for awhile and missed it. Being an unsentimental person, I am unlikely to ever write a love letter but I will remember these tips just in case.

  • Treetrunks

    HELP!
    Ive receved a letter from this girl and im a girl mayself. She knows all the right words to say, probably because writeings her passion. Shes gaven me one letter and one poem. Where not together but she likes me a lot and so do i. The problem is when i try to wright her back i feel like im saying all the wrong things and that suck to the extreem. I dont know what to do,and i want to give her spmething to let her know i like her back :( HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Double Infinity

    Very helpful and nice … Some people don’t know how to write and your steps are very helpful … For me i just concentrate on my heart and it speaks by it self!

    Thank you for your helping tips
    You may check my blog double-infiniity.blogspot.com
    Or follow me on twitter @doubleinfiniity

    Thank you again.