How To Be a Writer: It’s No Mystery!

Who will I send this lovely card designed by artist Paula Skene to cheer?

So, you want to be a writer, or maybe you want to be a better writer. How do you go about it? You can go to workshops, conferences, enroll in writing courses, hire an editor. All of that will help. You can also read great books, and not just writing books.





But you know what else you can do? You can write. I’m talking about incorporating writing into your whole life, not just your writing life. The more ways you find to write, the better you will write.

            A million years ago before the internet and later social media, people wrote to one another. Handwritten letters. Cards. Notes.

Felix Doolittle is one of my favorite artists. He captures nature with subtle beauty. I know one of my Miss Demeanors would like this one.

          When is the last time you wrote a letter? Do you still send Christmas or birthday cards or have you resorted to sending either eCards or a greeting on Twitter or Facebook? Do you add a personal note to the canned verse your card contains?

            Before the pandemic, I visited my closest cousin, John. We went through letters written by our relatives when they came to Boston from Ireland in the early 1900’s. The letters from family in Ireland consoling my great-grandmother after she lost her son during World War 1 were touching, but also revealed much that we didn’t know before about her story. What will happen a hundred years from now when the grandchildren of our children want to know what we were thinking or feeling? Will someone dig up the Facebook archives? And even if they do, will anyone ever know the beauty of words handwritten in ink on paper?


            John began writing to me during the pandemic. His salutation always began, “My dear cousin, Michele,” which was how the letters to and from Ireland began. The letters weren’t long, but in his beautiful penmanship, John let me know he cared about me and wanted me to stay well. The bonus was that he designed his own notecards. I can’t explain how a handwritten note on a personally designed card moved me.

Hydrangeas with sparkles for someone on a lucky birthday by artist Peter McGowan. I’d send this one to myself I like it so much.

I began reaching out to others with notes and cards. I didn’t get the artist gene that John was lucky to receive, but I found beautiful cards designed by endless artists who were genetically blessed at the stationery shop where I am writer in residence. Every time I peruse the magnificent supply of cards, notes, and stationery, I find something that fits a connection to a person I want to reach out to. It makes me happy to think I may be bringing joy to someone I care about.


You can’t appreciate the fabulous detail on this whimsical owl by artist Carolyn Schmitz online, but it will delight someone I send it to. Maybe someone who needs a silly moment.

And the bonus? The more I write notes and cards and letter, the better I write. What is dialogue if not the message contained within a communication to another human being? And the second bonus? People are writing to me!

Here’s my question: Have you ever written a love letter? Tell us about it. Or do they only happen in books?

Michele Dorsey is the author of Oh Danny Girl and the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, Tropical Depression, and Salt Water Wounds. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.


  1. I haven’t written a personal letter in many years. When I was in high school I wrote to a guy who was in the Marines but not love letters. I also wrote to a close girl friend over the summer, funny reports on what was happening. Hmm, those may still be around here somewhere.

    I’ve only written one love letter in my life–to my best friend who I was in love with in high school. I was lucky. She said thank you but I don’t feel that way about girls and that was the end of it. We continued to be friends and still are to this day. Putting my feelings in writing could have been a disaster way back then. But, as I said, I was lucky.

  2. I love writing letters, although I usually type them. I don’t think I’ve received a letter that wasn’t business in forever. Your artwork choices are lovely, Michele

  3. I wrote almost daily love letters to the man who is now my husband when we met. A month after we met he joined the Navy and for the next five months I wrote to him, often while in class. He wrote back, as often. We now have a stack of letters, wrapped in a ribbon, one stack in my dresser, and one in his. We generally wrote about what was happening to us at the time and we both drew pictures for each other.

    I also still have letters my friend sent me when she was going through a hard time and I always wrote back.

    And, as of last year, I still make my own holiday cards and send them out snail mail. But, that might be coming to an end.

  4. I didn’t write love letters to my husband because he didn’t go away, (which sounds sort of hostile) but I do like to leave him little post-it notes. Not sure if that counts. I do love writing letters, however, and for a period of time I was in charge of letter-writing at my church, which meant that every time someone went to the hospital or moved, I would send them a letter. I loved it!

  5. Michele, I’m a card person, too. I love the artwork, and the anticipation of getting and receiving snail mail. I still send out holiday cards, too, though I’ve cut back on my list in recent years. I sit making them out while watching Jeopardy at night, and use them to catch up with people we can’t see in person.

    I have written love letters to and from my current husband and have them saved in a cabinet in our attic. I wish I still had some written to me by a college boyfriend who knew how write and to make my heart twist. He died at a young age in a car accident and they would have been a wonderful reminder of him and a storied time, riding to Fordham in his vintage Triumph. Sadly, my jealous first husband destroyed them—note the “first!”

    1. Marni, I happen to know personally you write a lovely handwritten note! The story about your first husband destroying your love letters from an old boyfriend who has died makes me want to write a mystery about it and kill husband #1 (only in order)!

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