The Unexpected Power of Writing Letters You’ll Never Send

That self-consciousness, that layer of protection you hide beneath, vanishes.


I have always been shy and, admittedly, a little self-conscious. So my solution, when I have wanted to say something to someone but haven’t been quite sure what to say, has always been to write them a letter they will most likely never read.

The same thing always happens when I sit down and pour out my heart in a letter I save somewhere on my computer or in a journal without ever looking at it again.

All my thoughts and feelings – positive or negative – intensify. And then they level out. And it’s like I’ve had an hour-long heart-to-heart with someone without seeing them face-to-face or messaging them over Facebook.

Words. They work in mysterious ways.

When you write something knowing the receiver will never actually know what you are thinking and/or feeling, the way you write, the depth with which you address things, completely changes. That self-consciousness, that layer of protection you hide beneath, vanishes. You can say whatever you want – whatever you need – to say. Without second-guessing yourself. Without feeling like you’re saying the wrong things.

A few times I have sent letters I at first never intended to send. A few times I have regretted it; once it was the right choice. But in time you learn that words are personal. Sometimes the intimacy that comes with spilling those words out onto paper is worth sharing. Sometimes it isn’t.

But we cannot let that possibility of it not being worth it stop us from writing down how we feel anyway. Sometimes, there are things that need to be said to someone, even if they cannot hear them. I’m sorry. I forgive you. I don’t understand why. I love you.

Something amazing happens when we communicate a message, even if it is never decoded by the intended receiver. In writing what we would say, we start to feel whole again. They’re just words. But sometimes, they mean so much more, somewhere deep inside the soul.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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