A Unique Way To Practice Writing

Many people outside of the business think that all writers do is write novels. The most often asked question I get is “So, what book are you writing now?” Well, I also write short stories, essays, and a few poems that are probably so bad they’re labeled by editors as humorous. But there’s one other thing many writers are very good at: writing letters. And that’s what we should do to keep our minds and writing skills sharp.

Here’s one instance where it came in very handy:

My son’s laptop got a white screen of death. Nope, not the blue screen nor “fatal error” message. Nothing but glaring, in-your-face, white. I tried everything I knew to get it going. Even tried reformatting. His laptop is now in the recycling bin.

So son and I went to our local Best Buy store to purchase a new one. We already knew what he was getting: basic, but not skin-and-bones basic. We knew the price range. Let’s put it this way: we were armed with info and ready to purchase and leave within a half-hour of scanning the store.

When we found the perfect laptop, we searched for a salesperson, finally flagging one down while I stood on top of my son’s shoulders. That took about ten minutes. And the store was empty of customers. I braced myself when we told him what we wanted to buy. The salesperson took a deep breath and the litany began:

“We have a great two-year–”

“No, thanks.”

“You might want–”

“No, thanks.”

“There’s a wonderful–”

“Please, nothing else! Just the laptop.” I followed this with a smile.

He didn’t return the smile. He glared and said, “I guess you don’t want me to finish my sentences.”

“You’re right. I don’t.” Heck, in my book, rude begets rude. Though I still smiled!

When I told the manager about this salesperson, guess what: They were good buddies and he had every right to give me the spiel and act that way toward me.

This is where I put my writing to work. I follow up good service and bad service with an email and/or snail mail letter to the customer service department and the president of the company.

Rule One: Always begin the letter with a positive. “I like the quality of your products.” “I like the design of your logo.” (Only kidding on that one. 🙂 )

Rule Two: Then get to the heart of the matter. No excessive ranting if it’s negative, nor effusiveness if it’s positive.

Rule Three: End with a “thank you in advance.”

Rule Four: Keep it short and to the point.

Nine times out of ten I get a personalized response. And I feel so much better! And my writing gets better with every email and letter I send.

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Finally…The Good News!

Earlier I wrote about winning a contest. I didn’t post it because the official announcement wasn’t made on their website. Now it is. It was an essay contest sponsored by Caswell-Massey, an “apothecary” founded in 1752 in Rhode Island. I won a grand prize for an essay I wrote about my sister. It’s called “Lavender Lucy” and it can be read here.

I’ll be receiving a $200 gift certificate towards their products. I can’t wait!