Small. Simple. Powerful.

This week I received a postcard from Chewy.com.

It was handwritten and hand-addressed.

It was personalized.

It led me to place another order.

The handwritten message and hand-addressed portion made a difference, because I know how much time that takes.

I throw away a chunk of holiday cards every year just because I write them by hand, in pen, and if I make a mistake, I do it again. Crossing out words and continuing on as I did as a kid writing letters to my grandmother isn’t acceptable. If you’re representing a company, product, etc., the message and its spelling need to be on target. No crossed out words.

The addressing made a difference, because I wasn’t just another generic label. Someone had to write out my name and address—and my last name is a hard one, so they had to go letter by letter to make sure they got it right.

The personalization mattered because someone took the time to recognize my purchase and to say thank you.

I placed another order, just as I’m sure Chewy.com hoped I would.

I could shop anywhere, but they did something that I recognize takes time and thought.

These are the little things that count.

Small.

Simple.

Powerful.

Here’s something else:

From time to time, I’ve received thank you notes and postcards from readers of www.StevenPressfield.com and customers of www.BlackIrishBooks.com.

I track who sends them and I remember them, because they did something kind and spent their time on me. Time is valuable and valued.

And while I’m not buying everyone’s books and painting and albums, I’m more inclined to check out the creations from the individuals who contacted me before they had something to pitch.

There’s a lot of power in just a note, in just a thank you, in just a little personalization, and giving your time to someone else.

THE WAR OF ART

Read this one first.
It identifies the enemy—what I call Resistance with a capital “R,” i.e. fear, self-doubt, procrastination, perfectionism, all the forms of self-sabotage—that stop us from doing our work and realizing our dreams.
Start here.
Everything else proceeds from this.

The-War-of-Art

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1

THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

noboybookcover

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

13 Comments

  1. Mary Doyle on October 5, 2018 at 5:36 am

    This post struck a chord with me, as I am from a generation that grew up writing and receiving hand-written thank-you notes. It’s a wonderful irony to learn that some enterprising businesses may be bringing the hand-written communication back as a way to get our attention in this click-instant world. I hope so – thanks for this one Callie!

  2. Joan on October 5, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Well, then, thank you for your wisdom, Callie Oettinger. 🙂

  3. Elliott Baker on October 5, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Thank you, Callie. I would add timely to your list. Very powerful.

  4. Joe Jansen on October 5, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Works both ways. People have regard for you because (in part) you do the same. We may be on to something here.

  5. Evelyn Starr on October 5, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Your sentiment is the reason I handwrite the addresses of the cards I send. Handwriting thank you notes isn’t just good manners to me. It’s part of living a life of gratitude. There is something spiritual in recognizing the efforts of someone who helped you or did something you appreciated. While I know it makes my recipients feed good, it makes me feel good too.

  6. Maureen Anderson on October 5, 2018 at 7:31 am

    You can imagine how much I loved this post, Callie!

    Katie dreaded writing thank-you notes the way any other little kid does. Now? She can’t thank me enough for inspiring her devotion to them. One lucky recipient recently told her he’d never seen anything that beautiful in all of his forty-five years.

    I smiled when you mentioned your last name is a hard one. You do have to go letter by letter at first to make sure you get it right. It reminded me that my first name takes effort to correctly pronounce. It takes more effort to say MORE-een than the (surprisingly common, even in my supposedly inner circle) blurred-together mreen. Funny how that split second of extra care tells you where you stand with people.

  7. Maggie Smith on October 5, 2018 at 8:11 am

    I would do this more but it’s almost impossible with some writers whose books I’ve enjoyed to find any address other than email to send anything to. Ideas?

  8. Bing on October 5, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Thank you for passing this on, very heart warming.

  9. Bing on October 5, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Connor’s piece on sharing Steve’s work “Don’t fear your doubts and insecurities…….”, was a masterpiece on Steve’s work. Every quote was exactly to the nano second of what I needed to read this morning. It’s sooooo simple but not easy. Thanks for this awesome web site.

  10. Eleanor on October 5, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I read a few of the comments. I know I can’t say anything better. I, too, grew up with writing thank you note and letters by hand. Because I can’t hand write much without pain now, I don’t write letters mych anymore. I feel guilty not keeping up with this socially gracious tradition.

  11. Elise Allan on October 7, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Thank you Callie,
    I had an exhibition last month, and my anxiety point is sending out invitations. When it came to the emailed invitations, I sent them individually, or to small groups who had something in common, and sent personalised messages with the emails. It felt a little neurotic as I was doing it to bypass my fear of emailing to an anonymous mass, by allowing me to visualise the individuals I was sending to. Your post has allowed me to see the goodness in this, for the recipients as well as for me. And I did notice that I had a lot of replies and good wishes; and the private view was delightful.

  12. Beth Barany on October 12, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Thank you, Callie! I so appreciate your thoughtfulness over the years. I’m still meaning to send out thank you notes for those who came to my 50th birthday party in June… your post encourages me to do so even though I’m months late…

Leave a Comment