THE BLOG
04/16/2014 07:40 am ET | Updated Jun 16, 2014

Here's How NOT To Write A Love Letter

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A love letter is one of the most personal messages you'll ever write, and writing one is a lot easier than you might think.

Your first step is to give up your fear. You are the undisputed authority on what you want to say in this message--don't let yourself be shut down by preconceived notions of what a love letter should be. A love letter doesn't have to be poetry, it doesn't have to be about hearts and flowers, and it doesn't have to be sappy. Be yourself, and write about real things that matter to you.

So far so good, yes? But what exactly do you say? Here are some suggestions: the moment you first realized you loved her, how your life has changed since you first got together, how you have changed as a result of loving him, some physical characteristic of his that you love, something about her that makes you grateful, or something she said that you will never forget. Nothing is too small to write about, if it means something to you. Try writing about a shared memory that's special to you both; it doesn't have to have been a romantic occasion or a life-changing event to mean the world to the two of you. If you share something simple and sincere, your letter can be something that your love will treasure forever.

These dos and don'ts can help:

Do...
  • Take your time. Writing a love letter is too nice a job to rush.
  • Share your real feelings. This is no time to be shy.
  • Write in your own everyday voice--your reader wants to hear your voice, not an imitation of someone else's.
  • Give some thought to how your reader might react. How well do you know him or her? Are you declaring your love for the first time, or are you both so in love you're walking on air? Don't spoil the spontaneity, but make sure what you write seems appropriate to the level of your relationship.
  • Remember to say "I love you"!
Don't...
  • Don't worry that you're "not a good writer." You're as good as you need to be!
  • Don't say anything you don't mean. It's easy to go over the top when you're writing a love letter. Be sure you're being honest to yourself.
  • Don't be afraid to say silly things. If you love the way she slams the car door or the way he chops vegetables, say so.
  • Don't be creepy. If you're writing to someone who doesn't have any idea how you feel, don't go overboard describing your feelings and your desires.
  • Don't put it in an e-mail. This is love we're talking about, for heaven's sake. Invest in a nice card or writing paper, and write it out by hand. A love letter is a kind of gift--make it a tangible object they can slip under their pillow, save in their wallet, or otherwise treasure forever.
  • Don't chicken out! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

A personalized handwritten love letter means so much more than a pre-printed card. With a little courage and a little effort, you can make your love the happiest person in the world!

Laura Brown is the author of How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide [W.W. Norton & Company, $35.00].