Roman Drits

The Quick and Easy Fool Proof Guide to Writing Your First Pen Pal Letter

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  1. Educate yourself about the benefits of Pen Pal World and similar programs, and become informed about the risks involved with participating.
  2. Find a penpal. (Here are 27 of the best pen pal sites with quick summaries of their features to save you some time.)
  3. Consider sending letters to a few people at once. Some may develop and some may not. But make sure to personalize the letters for each person, rather than sending the exact same letter to everyone.
  4. Introduce yourself by explaining how you located them and tell them what made you choose them as a match. Do they have similar interests? Are they around the same age or life stage?
  5. Tell them about yourself. While you don’t want to go on and on about yourself in the first letter, your interests should take up at least one full paragraph. You may want to describe your hobbies, clubs, friends, or life routines, as well as anything you’re studying. Most importantly, don’t forget to tell them your age (or age range, if you’re an adult!), your gender, and where you live. You can find 100+ Super Simple Topics to Talk About With Your Penpal here.
  6. Make sure to ask about them. Keep the questions surface-level for starters. Don’t get into anything too personal! Safe topics might include places they’ve lived, the size of their family, or what their interests are.
  7. Don’t overtalk. For your first letter, keep it short and sweet. Four paragraphs is a great length. It provides introductory information without being overwhelming. It also leaves you plenty of things to add later.
  8. Sign off by indicating that you’re looking forward to receiving their reply. Use a friendly closing remark, like “Your friend, (and then your signature).” Signing off using words like love may be perceived as too affectionate in some cultures.
  9. Try to think of something small and lightweight to add to the envelope that will give them a quick snapshot of the area where you live. This could be a newspaper clipping, a postcard, a photo, or map, for example.
  10. Consider decorating the outside of the envelope if you’re crafty. Adding ribbon, stickers, colorful ink, or other features may be a fun touch that lets them know you’re enthusiastic about participating.
  11. Enjoy the process! Don’t sweat it too much if some people don’t reply (and never pressure people to reply). It likely has nothing to do with you, but more to do with their busy schedules or history of procrastination. Pen pals are just like face-to-face encounters: some turn out to be great friends and some end up being nothing more than acquaintances. Either is fine because there are plenty of other people to write if your first attempts don’t work out!

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