Five Reasons Why You Should Write to Your Loved Ones

A blurred woman in front of a delivery truck shot by Jay Sennett with a Canon 60D while pulling focus.
A woman in front of a delivery truck shot with a Canon 60D while pulling focus.

How many words I have written, yet none to my beloved or grandmother or dear friend?

I have written thousands of words I felt proud of, submitted them to a handful of journals, only to have strangers reject them.

Ask me to write a tender love letter to my love, no way!

Why?

Who really am I writing for, and why? Here are five reasons why writing to our loved ones will makes us better writers and human beings.

We become fearless writers

A black and white image shot by Jay Sennett of postal truck with a very blurry vortex achieved by pulling focus.
A postal truck shot with a Canon 60D while pulling focus.

We censor ourselves when we write. That scary place in me pushing to get out on the page? Nope.

Not going to write that.

It’s too scary, too close to the bone, too {fill in the blank here}. I hesitate. My writing suffers.

Speaking our truth to our loved ones liberates us. We write in complete vulnerability, and we take that fearlessness to our pages.

 Writing honestly makes us better writers

People coming and going at the entrance to Meiji Shrine. Shot in black and white by Jay Sennett using a Ricoh GR2
People coming and going at the entrance to Meiji Shrine. Shot with a Ricoh GR2.

 I’ve come to realize part of me writes to touch my own heart.

Writing to my loved ones terrifies me. I have to be vulnerable and really expose my heart.

Even with the most deeply felt novel, I think sometimes we can bullshit ourselves and keep at an arm’s length from the material.

Not so with love letters.

We write to our beloved or a parent or dear friend, we know they have expertly calibrated bullshit detectors. We have no choice but to be honest and vulnerable.

Our public writing will improve as a result.

 Writing to our loved ones forces us to specific and unique

People relax in Kresge Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Shot with a Ricoh GR2 by Jay Sennett
People relax in Kresge Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Shot with a Ricoh GR2

Has a loved one ever asked, what do you love about me? Like me, you may feel cornered.

Just because you’re beautiful may seem like a great first answer.

But I think it fails. It sounds like a line from a forgettable pop tune.

I love the curve of your hip when the morning summer sun streams our bedroom window seems like a much better first answer.

I’ve used honest, precise, visual images. We love specifically. Our writing ought to reflect that specificity. All of our writing.

 Writing to our loved ones trains us to better observe the world

People stroll by a toilet on the street in the 19th arrondissement. Shot with a Ricoh GR2 by Jay Sennett.
People stroll by a toilet on the street in the 19th arrondissement. Shot with a Ricoh GR2.

If your friend exhibits great loyalty, how does he do so, specifically?

This reason differs from number three. In number two we write specifically.

Here we teach ourselves to increase our observational skills. Your friend may express his loyalty by giving you money when you most need it or defending a friend when she isn’t present or visiting you every night while you are hospitalized.

Loyalty, devotion, concern, support sound great but as words they don’t give us much by way of specifics. As we work on grounding our words in distinct behavior and explicit details, our writing will improve.

“For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” Toni Morrison

 We will all die

A man carries a long package on a rainy day by St. Sulpice in Paris. Shot with a Ricoh GR2 in black and white by Jay Sennett
A man carries a long package on a rainy day by St. Sulpice in Paris. Shot with a Ricoh GR2.

Every single one of us. Death stalks us from the moment we are conceived. It is better to write our most heartfelt words for our loved ones. If we don’t, what comfort will all our publications bring?

 We didn’t write those publications for them, our loved ones, we wrote them for us, and maybe the marketplace.

We wrote them for us.

Writing to our loved ones probably strikes fear in your heart. “I can’t be that honest!”

If death takes them, and you’ve written nothing, what comfort will all your publications bring you?

 When death takes them, and you’ve written them honest, tender letters expressing your admiration and love for them, telling them how sexy you find them, and you watch their face as they read your thoughtful words, how much comfort will that expression bring you when death has taken them?

 You can’t see the expression as in a photograph. But your picture-taking mind will capture the memory forever.

Write to your loved ones as though you had only one month to live.

 What will you say to them, knowing that you, and they, will die one day?

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