Letter writing…quality vs quantity

I’m a life-long pen pal, and certain pen pals say they want “long letter” pals. This does not (usually) mean the person wants to exchange 10 page letters, but that they are not interested in brief letters that only contain superficial thoughts about the weather. They want letters with more effort and depth, that are more than “I did this and I did that” but also share thoughts/ideas, and interact with the letter received.

However, it is not necessarily the length of a letter that makes it worthwhile. Over the years, I’ve received a variety of letters. I’ve gotten letters that were:

very long but Iow quality
brief letters that were high quality.

How so?

For example, very long letters that were nothing but monologue – “I did this and I did that” with no dialogue whatsoever. These letters can read more like a diary entry, a record of what someone has done, and lack a personal touch. Even after receiving such letters for a while, the person remains a stranger to me. I know what they have done, but not who they are.

And then there are letters much briefer by comparison, but are a blend of personal news, responding to the letter received with thoughts or questions, and sharing personal feelings or ideas about something in life. After receiving such letters for a while, I feel like I am really getting to know this person. In other words, a friendship is developing! I have a sense of who they are as a person.

So…perhaps the point is to not get hung up on the length of a letter, but to keep quality in mind as well.Β  I’d rather receive 3 page personal letters where a friendship is growing, than 10 page letters where the person remains a stranger.




5 thoughts on “Letter writing…quality vs quantity

    • Thanks for your comment! Pen palling for me is about making a friend, not just about getting mail, and I want to feel a connection with someone – to get a sense of who they are…


      • That’s good news for me πŸ˜€ I’ve tried to help a couple of penpals move in this direction when their letters consistently lacked dialogue, and it caused some to quit responding, while the one eventually managed to answer my accumulated questions yet with the comment that no one else in their sixty or so correspondents had ever “complained”. I replied to that with the opinion that most people have a hard time doing “active listening” in person, let alone in written interactions.
        ~ Devorah R.G in Switzerland πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh hey Devorah! I did not realize this was “you”! Good point about active listening. Related to that, I think we have a crisis of friendship in society. Friendship has become a lost art, sadly. I hope you got my letter okay. Within the US we’ve had issues with mail being quite slow – but I state that simply as fact, not complaint, as the delays are related to postal employees being out with COVID.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I can’t seem to reply to your second response, so I’ll just tag it onto this one… I agree, friendship and fellowship certainly are an art form that requires quite a bit of wisdom and maturity, which are often compromised by modern lifestyles. Yes, I received your letter without delay, and am now in the process of responding to it. It was neat to see your ministry card when I opened your letter the other week, but I only now had the “bandwidth” to look up your blogs πŸ˜€


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