Writing a Support Letter: Share What You’re Learning

One great way to open up with your supporters is to share with them ways you are learning or growing. It’s easy to talk about new ideas if you’re excited about them.

Sharing about what you’re learning is also helpful for you to process your thoughts. In your hectic life, you probably don’t find a lot of time to journal or talk through life lessons with a friend. Writing about what you’re learning in a support letter can serve this role. (Just be sure the things you’re learning are appropriate to share with a larger audience. Never forget to filter.)

Vulnerability and humility go a long way

This can be a good opportunity to share vulnerably. Life lessons often come with great humility. When you share that with your readers, you are sharing very deep, true parts of yourself. Readers connect to vulnerability. It speaks to their humanness.

And there are probably ways that your learning can and will encourage or challenge your readers in their own lives. Just don’t be pedantic—invite rather than lecture. If you’re sharing vulnerably rather than condemning, you’re on the right path.

Don’t overuse quotes

A lot of what we learn comes from other sources like reading. It’s a good idea to share quotes from what you’re learning, just don’t overdo them.

Big blocks of text from another source can be overwhelming—and very easy to skip over. What your readers want is to know why that quote stuck out to you. If you were writing a research paper, you’d include information from a trusted source, but it would only be used to enhance your own ideas, whether you were using it as support or refuting it.

If you are learning something through a book study, it’s ok to write about it. You can certainly include a quote—just not too big of a block of text. Then explain why it’s meaningful to you, what you are learning from it.

Any time you’re writing and you use a quote, you should introduce it and draw a conclusion from it. Here’s a good, brief example from Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection:

Choosing authenticity is not an easy choice. E. E. Cummings wrote, “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.” “Staying real” is one of the most courageous battles that we’ll ever fight. (51)

Brene’s own thoughts—in bold—bookend the quote she uses. This way, the quote is supporting her own writing, not taking over.

Remember that an aptly chosen quote can add the perfect flavor to your letter, and serve as a springboard for you to share your own thoughts. But be sure that you do share your own thoughts and not just regurgitate someone else’s writing.

When has someone else’s reflection over what they’re learning challenged you as well?