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–”
“You might want–”
“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.