Friday, December 2, 2016

Reasons to Write: Coherence

Let's face it. The digital age has made us sloppy communicators. Whether we're sending a text, composing an email, or commenting on an article online we are probably not giving our words as much thought as they, or the person who will read our words, deserve. Chose any news article and scroll through the responses to it. Go ahead, do it now.... Do you feel like a better person after reading those jewels of insight and carefully chosen expletives words? Neither do I. 

Even in a civil conversation one can easily send the wrong message (literally!) thanks to predictive spelling. I find self-editing to be very difficult and read what I meant to say rather than what I actually wrote. Sometimes I feel that predictive spelling is a malicious technology as I easily send nonsensical messages that require either an explanation from me or decryption skills from the other person. Often I can tell that an email was sent from a cell phone by the sloppiness of the communication, especially when I happen to know that the sender is more educated than the message advertised. I am sure we have all had a laugh either at ourselves or at a message received. Often these communication mishaps are humorous and we have to laugh at them but the fact remains that they happen because we are hasty in dashing off our thoughts, some of which are only half formed when we present them to the world. 

Writing with pen on the other hand slows us down just enough to help us better compose a coherent thought and coherent thought makes for good writing, good reading, and good conversation. Making a habit of writing by hand will hopefully put us in a frame of mind to be careful with our words no matter what our medium of expressing them. 

Words matter. Be careful with them. Now go write a letter.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Conversation: 5 Christmas Letter Tips

Do you send out Christmas letters? has given some good advice for writing the perfect Christmas letter and I thought it worthy of passing along. You can read the post in its entirety here.

Each of these tips is elaborated on in the original post but in summary:

Tip 1: Keep news on family members to one paragraph.
Tip 2: Resist all temptation to brag or appear like you're bragging.
Tip 3: Pick a few highlights of the year - then elaborate on how you feel or felt about those events.
Tip 4: Be "you" focused instead of "me" focused.
Tip 5: Mention your sincerest Christmas wish in the end.

Of course there are no fixed rules on writing a Christmas or any other sort of letter but a few guiding principals can be very helpful.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Historical Letters: William Bradford

I have found the transcript to a humorous letter by William Bradford. It's not meant to be humorous but I do think that Mr. Offley should have payed his bills straight away. When the governor has to put pressure on you, you have been inexcusably delinquent. And then to have all the English scandalized. Really, Mr. Offley.

To his much honored friend Mr. John Winthrop Deputy Governor of the Massachusetts these be.
       I am requested to write these few lines unto you, in the behalf of some Indians of Yarmouth; who complain that Mr. Offley owes them 6 coats of trading cloth, and a pair of small britches, for service they did him, in taking of sturgeon. Some of them affirm that they were loath to have left their hunting, when he importuned them to help him, and now not to pay them for their labor they take it very ill; and take occasion thereby to scandalize all the English. I am informed by Mr. Freeman that many of the neighbors know these debts to be due, and are yet unsatisfied. Having not else at present with my best love remembered unto you, I take leave and rest. 
            Your Affectionate friend,                                                                                            William Bradford
More such letters can be found in William Bradford's Letterbook.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Reasons to Write: Slowing Down is Good for You

We all know that slowing down is good for us. I happened across an article at WebMD that promotes slowing down for various benefits. It even offers practical advice on how to accomplish this. 

I found one bit of advice to be humorous. Well, the example anyway.

The next time you feel yourself freaking out because the woman in front of you at the post office is taking ages to choose her stamps....

Oh my goodness. Is that what I'm doing to people when I insist on seeing all my choices? Some of them twice? Hopefully not; though I have noticed agitation in a certain postal clerk. I'll have to make a point of not buying stamps over the noon hour when a lot of people are on their lunch break and trying to dash off a few errands.

Read the article if you'd like. It's optional, but do take time to pen a message to someone. You'll both be glad you did.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish you every blessing on this day of thanking God for his bounty. In honor of this day and it's history I leave you with a link to a telling of Thanksgiving's history at

An exerpt from the Plymouth Plantation site reads:

In a letter from “E.W.” (Edward Winslow) to a friend in England, he says: “And God be praised, we had a good increase…. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling that so we might after a special manner rejoice together….” Winslow continues, “These things I thought good to let you understand… that you might on our behalf give God thanks who hath dealt so favourably with us.”
"After a special manner rejoice together." Yes, let's!