In a digital age, classic romantic gestures can go a long way, especially during the month of love. Two University of New Mexico creative writing professors sat down with the Daily Lobo to share tips with readers on why and how to write the perfect love letter.
Diane Thiel has been teaching creative writing at UNM for 20 years and believes that “love letters are a beautiful way to build a deeper connection.”
“A love letter allows one to consider and reflect and choose words carefully, rather than simply speaking in the moment,” Thiel said.
Love letters can have more emotional value than other mediums and can serve as a mark of seriousness about your feelings, according to professor Sharon Warner.
“It's something you can go back to and read again and again, and it's also something you can't unsay, in a way. You put your heart and your vulnerability on the page, and you hand it to somebody else to keep,” Warner said.
Love letters can express love outside of the sphere of romance, according to Thiel. For example, she writes love letters to her children.
“I definitely think a love letter can be for more than romantic love. I have a number of poems that I consider love letters to my children,” Thiel said.
In order to write a love letter, Warner said it’s important to take notes and brainstorm in preparation. She also said to consider the factors of who, what, when, where, why and how.
“So why do you love the person? What is it about them that you love?” Warner said. “How do I love this person? When do I love this person? And where do I love this person?”
It’s important to be vulnerable in the letter, according to Warner. Even if it’s nerve-wracking if you don’t know the other’s feelings, she said that the genuine quality will be apparent to the recipient.
“You can convince them that you truly know them and truly admire them, and that you're not just writing the equivalent of a pickup letter,” Warner said.
Warner noted that the date is a very important detail to include on the love letter so that when that person hopefully keeps the letter for the future, they remember when they received it.
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To make her letters more personalized, Thiel enjoys writing while traveling not only to memorialize her feelings but also where she was when she felt those feelings. It also helps her see the place from her beloved’s perspective.
“The poems are both poems of place and poems written for the listener,” Thiel said.
A personalized letter stands out, according to Warner.
“It has to be a good letter for the particular person you're writing it to, so if you think that that person needs reassurance that you do love them, then it's a good letter if you're convincing,” Warner said.
These letters don’t have to be in any specific format, according to Thiel. She said she writes her love letters as poems and her children write them as music.
“My children are young musicians and have written me songs over the years that I consider love letters and which I will cherish forever,” Thiel said.
Thiel has had the opportunity to publish many of her poems, some of which were also love letters. These as well as love letters written specifically to her have greatly impacted her personal life and her writing overall.
In one of her earlier books she wrote a poem called “Love Letters,” which Thiel said was “about my mother trying to write my father love letters in his native language, German.”
With effort, Thiel said, any person can write a love letter and can make a notable impact.
“Anyone can write a love letter. With experience, one might write a more memorable one,” Thiel said.
Annya Loya is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @annyaloya