As a rookie I’m still finding out myself what sort of thing I should write on my postcards so this is by no means definitive. Can I just say that “should” doesn’t even apply because there’s really no right or wrong! It comes down to personal choice and whatever you want to write.
However, if that piece of non-advice still doesn’t satisfy, I would say one of the best things to do before putting pen to postcard is to carefully read the recipient’s profile which will usually give you some idea of the person involved. Most profiles have something to respond to or interact with in some way – so if they say they like horse-riding, you could recount a funny story about the time you fell off a horse. Or if they say they like The Beatles, you could write: “I’m a big Beatles fan too, my favourite song is Let It Be…” and so on. Just finding something you have in common and writing about it creates a friendly little bond – friendliness among all men is how I see the project – and is perfect for a short postcard message.
I also try my best to fulfill the wishes of the recipient if they specially request that you write something. They might wish to know your favourite quote or food or film, or something specific about your country. “Write me something in your own language,” is a common one.
It’s a bit disappointing when a postcard just says “Greetings from _____” That’s a huge no-no for me, because my primary drive for Postcrossing, and why I like it so much, is my love of other cultures so I want to hear little things about them! It’s also just not fun. Half the joy of a postcard is the writing so do write something, however lame or silly you might think it. I guarentee the recipient will enjoy it infinitely more than a one-line bore.
I remember when I first wrote my profile and I included a huge list of things I wanted people to write to me. But I soon realised that the space on a postcard is so very small that there just isn’t room to write masses of things. It has to be quite pithy and to the point so don’t flannel!
Be inventive with what you write. One of the best postcards I received recently described walking around Stolkholm at Christmas. It was wonderful because a) it took me a while to read and b) it really gave me a flavour of the sender’s life and culture.
My overall tip is to write as though you are writing to a friend – not a close one but one you can chat to quite cheerfully. Be polite and write with a bit of affection. They are probably Postcrossing for exactly the same reasons as you – because it’s amazing to have someone in a foreign country writing to you! Postcrossers are curious people, curious about the world, so tell them about your corner of it.
This is an example of what I might write on a postcard to send today [if you think it's lame, give me some advice, please!]:
I hope you are well! It’s so cold here in Britain at the moment: -5 last night and everything is covered in snow! I live in a little English village with my lovely family. I just read the new Dan Brown book – it was rubbish, but fun! In 2010 I want to continue learning French – it’s a beautiful language. I can’t believe the new decade is here!
I wish you all the best. Jenny
If you still feel clueless about how the back of your postcard might look, here’s one that arrived recently from India:
Here’s some other ideas:
♥ Arty types could do little drawings or doodles!
♥ A haiku or poem [not really my thing, but some people like them]
♥ Your favourite song lyric
♥ Why you chose that postcard
♥ A little description of yourself, where you live or your country
♥ What you did today
♥ A nice recipe [hope you can write small!]
♥ Your favourite things – song, film, book etc.
♥ Something funny or sweet
♥ Your thoughts on the recipient’s country – nothing insulting, obviously
♥ And of course the Postcrossing ID!
Always remember that you could be writing to a child.
By the way, the first postcard I ever sent through Postcrossing was destined for Belarus. With no idea what to write, I found about ten other “firsts” from history and wrote them on the postcard to celebrate my debut, adorned it with an English penny, sealed it in an envelope, and off it went. It has never been seen again. Naive stupidity gone, never again will I so ridiculously think that the temptation of a coin could pass unscathed through an Eastern European mail room. So remember that your creativity and thoughtfulness might not make it!