What Love Letters Teach Me about Writing

letters-1390463_1920The other day I watched P.S. I Love You for the first time even though it’s a popular romantic movie. Even though it’s not a movie specifically about the writing process, it teaches three things about writing that I actually already know, but that I don’t mind being reminded of. 

If you have already watched the movie or if you don’t mind spoilers, please continue reading.

After her husband, Gerry, dies, letters start arriving from him as a way to help Holly cope with his death and to remind her of his love for her. Although her mother is initially against the idea, the letters help Holly with the grieving process.

At one point, Gerry tells Holly to only keep his jacket, and to get rid of everything else that belonged to him. And I wonder how much longer it would have taken for Holly to let go of his stuff if he hadn’t prompted her.

Gerry’s love letters to Holly teach me the following:

1. You need to know your audience.

What I like about Gerry’s letters is that he knows how Holly is dealing with his death. Gerry predicts that Holly will visit his parents when she is in Ireland, and his mom gives Holly one of his letters that he left there for her. Gerry also finds the connection between Holly’s love of shoes and her dream of creating. So he guides her to a new job of designing shoes.

2. Your writings don’t have to be read by every single person on earth. They can be written with only one person or specific group of people in mind.

Lately, I’ve been learning that all of my blog posts are not meant to be read by all of the people who follow this blog. Some topics resonate to people more than others, and that’s totally fine! Gerry’s letters which are addressed only to Holly (with the exception of two letters) make me value every piece of writing (regardless of how many people are in our audience.) This makes me think of one of my classmates from university. Any time I emailed her, her personality shone through her emails, and even though the email was directed only to me, the quality of her emails was so rich because she had her signature writing style. I would buy all of her books!

3. Each writing has a purpose.

By the end of the movie, we know that the purpose of the love letters was to help Holly move on after Gerry’s death. Gerry tells Holly in her last letter that it’s okay to fall in love with someone else.