You don’t have to be a novelist or a poet to be capable of writing a good message that will mean the world to your VIP. But some might benefit a few tips on how to make the most of this golden opportunity to put their words down and make sure it hits home. So here are seven tips we think might help you feel more confident writing your message.
Using names, specific dates, personal experience and “your own words” are all great ways to make your message as personal as possible. You have a unique connection to your VIP. Think about what makes your relationship with him/her different to someone else’s. Draw from that if it’s appropriate for the type of book to which you’re contributing. Use writing prompts such as:
(Just keep in mind, if you know some really embarrassing secrets, it might pay to keep them secret—others may be reading your message too. Hee hee)
Simple sentences are good, especially in a letter. Long sentences become complex and can lose their impact. Each sentence should have one simple thought. Don’t worry about this too much in your first draft. But, when you go back to proofread or edit, make sure each sentence is easily understood. If you see one that can be broken up into three or four complete sentences, it probably ought to be divided.
For example, a sentence that reads:
Now that you are heading off to college, and hopefully one day will become a famous doctor who will save lives and find cures to illnesses, I hope that you will study hard but also take time to make friends and experience the world around you.
You could make it two sentences that read:
You are heading off to college. Study hard but also take time to make friends and experience the world around you. Hopefully, one day will become a famous doctor who saves lives and find cures to illnesses.
Just write what first comes to mind, but then go back and look for other words to replace those that show up too often. For example: “I really hope you have a really good time.” The thought has more impact if it reads, “I really hope you have a fabulous time.” Repetition is cut out and there’s even more emphasis on just how great a time you’re hoping they’ll have!
Don’t you hate it when someone places a group greeting card in front of you and asks you to write a message and sign it? You’re on the spot and it’s hard to think of the right words!
With a Mylestones Book, you usually get the heads up before you actually have to submit your message. It’s a good idea to start composing your message as soon as you receive your invitation to contribute. Write your thoughts down, even if it’s just a rough draft. Then you can hold onto it for a little while. You’ll still have time to review and make adjustments or add to the message so that it’s a true reflection of your feelings.
When you reread your writing with fresh eyes, you may pick up on mistakes or things you’d like to word differently. Even the best writers are known to have typos and mistakes in their first drafts! When your thoughts are fresh, your brain has a tendency to read what you meant to say/write, instead of what is actually there. If you come back to the message a day or two later, your fresh eyes will likely pick up on something that doesn’t quite work or that is an obvious mistake. Giving yourself a little time away from what you wrote will let you see it in a whole new light.
This is another area where our brains can trick us if we’re not careful. But if you read the message out loud to yourself… or even better yet to someone else (that you trust and will just be a passive listener), then you are more able to catch errors. By engaging your eyes AND ears, your mind has to think a little harder to make sure everything makes sense. This is a fantastic way to test your words and sentence structure to be positive the message you’ve written really does say what you want.
It’s helpful to get a friend, family member or colleague to check your message before you submit it. While your brain might be reading what you meant to say, someone who has never read your message before will read what’s in front of them—without your brain’s “inside knowledge”. That person may pick up on something that you’d like to change before submitting the final message.
Regardless of whether you try one step or all seven, we hope these tips help you to be over-the-moon about the message you are contributing to your VIP’s Mylestones book. We have no doubt your message will be treasured and read time and time again. So here’s our top tip: Don’t try to write like someone else or try to impress. Just be you! It’s as easy as that.