What could be more romantic than receiving a love letter? A good old fashioned, handwritten love letter is still one of the best Valentines around—but don’t just save it for February. A love letter is a powerful expression any day of the year.

You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write the perfect love letter. All you need to know is how you feel. What makes a love letter so romantic is that it is deeply personal. It shows your beloved how well you know them, and that knowledge is the very stuff of love.

All you need to get started is a pen and some decent stationary. Use thick card stock, rather than stationary, with roses and cupids around the edges. The recipient is probably going to keep this letter for a long time. Writing on heavy card stock will help it last. (You can find paper like this at scrapbooking stores and some office supply outlets.)

As you are writing be specific. Tell him/her exactly how he/ she makes you feel and what he/she does that makes you feel that way. Write in the second person ( use “you” ) so that your letter speaks directly to your loved one. Before you start writing, take a few moments to think about your beloved and why they are so special in your life.

The following questions can help to get your thoughts going:

You can start your letter anyway you like as long as you include his name. You don’t have to be super-mushy right from the start, a simple “Dear _____” works well. Begin your letter with a very specific quality that you appreciate about him. Make the sentence exclusive – for example, “I’ve never met anyone as ______ as you” or “Nobody has ever made me feel as ____ as you do when you ____.” Starting out this way shows him that he ranks higher than anyone else in your books — a great way to start a love letter.

As you write, tell him/her exactly how you feel. Use specific examples that show that you’ve been paying attention. Remind him of the things he has done that really meant something to you. Share a favorite memory and a hope for the future. Don’t forget to say “I love you.” It doesn’t matter how long or short your letter is, as long as it’s sincere. There’s no rule that says you have to use poetry in a love letter, but if you’re stumped finding just the right words, one or two carefully chosen lines can work really well. If you don’t have a poem in mind, there’s a lot to choose from online. If you want to use something other than the usual classics, I highly recommend Dance Me to the End of Love by Leonard Cohen.

Once your letter is complete, read it over carefully and check for errors. This letter will be read over and over. You don’t want a mistake spoiling the mood.If you want to add an extra special touch, seal the envelope with wax. Sealing kits are available at most fine stationery stores, but a regular taper candle in a dark color works just as well. Simply light the candle and carefully drip a small puddle of wax about the size of a quarter over the flap.

Once the letter is complete, drop it in the mail and wait for a great response. If you’re lucky, you just might get a love letter yourself.

This article was written by: Claire Colvin

Photo Credit: Freddy Castro