How to Write a Powerful and Influential Letter That Will Change Your Life

There are times in life when you absolutely need the right words to get you through tense or troubling situations. This is where knowing how to write a powerful letter can accelerate your growth and healing.

Writing a solid letter is by far one of the best ways to get your point across in a clear, organized and razor sharp manner. Unlike talking, writing allows you to collect your thoughts and feelings into an official, permanent statement. Later down the line nobody can deny what you’ve said because it’s been written down.

To date, I’ve written dozens of memorable letters that have helped me capitalize on rare opportunities or overcome high-pressure and abusive situations, such as:

  • Secured a Letter of Intent with a major airline to charter their planes in a competitive market
  • Gave a two-week notice to a toxic workplace while calmly articulating my perceived injustices
  • Secured my first mortgage when there was no way in hell I was qualified for it
  • Got hired for a competitive job I really wanted
  • Defended myself and my family members against the personal injustice of others

Each of these required a great amount of concentration and courage, but I emerged victorious every single time.

This post is a bit long (about 1,200 words), but it’s worth a careful read. It outlines for you the exact strategies and techniques I’ve used to help me write these kinds of life-changing memos.

Setting Up the Letter

The first thing you need to do is plan your letter. Get a blank sheet of paper and first write down exactly what you want or what you want to overcome. Be direct and specific.

The very best material for your letter will come from whatever notes you take when your emotions are at their highest. During this time you can see the truth with greater clarity because you’ve just caught a rare and precious glimpse of it.

Proceed to write down why you want to do this, what results you expect to happen and most importantly—why the person reading the letter should listen to you. What are your reasons?

Chances are you’re emotionally charged, which is a good thing, but you need to be honest with yourself. Are your reasons truly valid, or are you just whining about something? Make sure you have at least one very plausible and convincing argument that would make someone stop and actually think about what you’re saying.

The other thing you need to write down is the how. In other words, how do you plan to execute your idea–when and where is it going to happen and in what manner? If you’re asking for something to happen to you, then turn it around: how, when and where would you like the request to be executed in your favor?

When you’ve got all your notes, start organizing them into sections. You should have a what section (what you’re seeking), a how section (the manner, time and place the ‘what’ should happen) and one or more why sections (the reasons of your letter).

Writing the Letter

First, take your time and keep a clear head. Don’t ever write a letter immediately after the issue has occurred. What tends to happen is you will come across as raw and reactive and sloppy and unconvincing.

The whole tone of your letter should be dramatic, almost ruthless. You can achieve this by being as direct and calculated as possible. Don’t ever beat around the bush or hint at what’s to come, or back down from your argument. Create an impenetrable wall of ferocity!

The first line of your letter should state as clearly as possible exactly what you’re seeking (the what) and nothing more. Keep it to its own paragraph for greater impact.

Your next paragraph should be a general overview of the how section—just a summary and not all the details. These are basically the supporting accessories to the what without going too deep. You’ll get into this later; for now you need to maintain the pace and intensity of the letter.

Up next is ultra important: your why. Here’s where you get to take all your reasons and very carefully lay them out on the table. My advice is present only your top three reasons and no more.

You need to assertively state why the reader should listen to you, why you are correct or why you deserve what you’re asking for. Have your supporting reason ready to back up your argument and always use clear and simple language. Be polarizing so people will listen.

To close your letter, restate your what and then be more explicit on your how. The person reading the letter will have just heard your convincing reasons and—assuming you’ve made an impact on them—will be paying close attention to your requests.


Once you’ve written the draft, walk away from it for awhile. Give it time to percolate. Then come back to it and reread it and make changes to it.

At this point you will have gotten the issue off your chest, so to speak. You won’t be as emotional and your letter will appear more as a tactical weapon than an emotional rant. Editing will sharpen that even more.

Depending on the situation, it really helps if you get a trusted family member or friend to read your letter. Ask this person if it sounds convincing and if there’s anything you’ve left out. My wife does this for me and it’s extremely helpful.

Edit your message until you know without a doubt it’s going to make an impact on your intended reader. Then get ready to send it.

Sending It

This is pretty obvious, but you need to send the letter. Don’t just write it for yourself to feel better—you’ll never get anywhere with this attitude.

What I like to do is send it at the moment I know is right. I just do it with the full intention of it working and making a difference and permanently changing my life.

When you send the letter with this warrior attitude, you’ve already accomplished half of your goal. You’ve taken time and energy to speak your truth and you followed-up with the courage to let someone know!


Because your letter is so powerful, chances are you’ll get a response. It won’t always be the one you want, but it just might be, too.

If you aren’t totally victorious, don’t necessarily give up. The reader may get back to you with more questions or some sort of compromise. Reason accordingly. If you get back a counter-argument, you can repeat this process with a more tempered and discerning voice.

Whatever the outcome, at least you know that you didn’t turn your back on an opportunity to defend yourself and/or gain an important victory.

A Few Extra Pointers

  • Keep it short. One page is desired but not always possible. If you have to, shrink the font, increase the margins and cut some words out. Nothing speaks more powerfully than a simple, one-page letter.
  • Sign and date. These are both important to do. By signing the letter (preferably in black ink), you’re giving your personal endorsement. It shows your sincerity and seriousness.
  • Use Cc. At the bottom left under your signature, you can add the names of other people you’re sending a copy of the letter to using the Cc: function. This can be hugely powerful if you want to “expose” to others your concerns about the issue at hand.

Got any questions, ideas to share on writing letters? Please leave a comment!

Images provided by Brad NeatheryRomtomtom, SophieG*, Muffet and kevinzim.

13 Replies

  1. Ted Collins Reply

    Fantastic article! I must share this! Thanks for posting.

  2. Charles Reply

    Thanks, Ted — your comment is encouraging. It’s my hope that people can actually apply this post to helping their life.

  3. guest Reply

    I’m happy I found this.  I actually typed into Google, “How to write a life-changing letter,” because I want to communicate some very important things to a couple of folks, each individually, but I want it to be the “ONE” letter that they receive in their lives that they anecdotally tell their grandkids and their trainees it changed their lives and their practices forever.  I wish to convey the importance of making certain changes because it could mean the difference between life and death, and healing or physical/emotional trauma.  I want to be “THAT” person who finally sends these folks a wake up call about what it means to be the best they can be, and how hubris has clouded their practice choices.  I want to send this letter not only to make me feel some sense of justice, but also to spare other people the indignity, the torture, the physical and mental damage which these folks have inflicted on me as a patient.  This is especially important because I know their actions are wrong….as a trained professional myself….my fear is for those other people who don’t question how they are treated, but assume that the “white coat” is omnipotent and omniscient….and when they receive less than standard care, dehumanizing treatment, and are nullified clinically to their own physical detriment………they may feel helpless and as if they have no recourse.  I wish to communicate to these professionals that there IS a way for those in their care to hold them to standards of care not only in surgical technique but also in treating others with dignity.  I fear that some part of these professionals’ soul has been lost due to something known as “compassion fatigue,” and this is not a soft, kumbayah issue; it’s a threat to patient-centered care…evidence based practice…and threatens the provider/patient relationship.  Treating patients with a lack of dignity breeches the trust and confidence of the patient in their provider and hinders open transfer of information, information which might be crucial in saving or damaging a life.  So thank you for the template.  I just have to figure out what I want to say and how.  I really needed this page.

  4. Sara Reply

    Hello. Thank you for this excellent and informative article on writing a powerful letter. What would make it even better and more helpful is if you could post a sample letter that you have drafted to address a certain situation… so that the letter would clearly illustrate how to powerfully put the idea/issue into the “what, why and how” format that you have prescribed. Looking forward to a sample letter to be posted asap. Thank you.

  5. Cinderella Reply

    I’m not even finished reading and I can already say thank you without exaggerating one bit.
    I had very few friends in my life, therefore emotionally clinged to bad friends.
    They didn’t realize that they were doing bad things, since the alcohol gave them blackouts.
    And after breaking up with my abusive boyfriend, I’m writing a letter to one of his friends, who never knew that he actually sexually assaulted me one night.
    I had NO clue how to write it down while keeping it ‘realistic’ and not sounding like a dramatic movie-script, but I’m sure this’ll help and he’ll have to read (and face) what he did to me.
    Thanks for giving me that strength.

    • Charles Bohannan Reply

      Your comment means a lot to me, thanks. If I have truly made you feel better, or helped you overcome pain in your life, then I feel like I’ve done something right.

  6. Tricia Davis Reply

    I can not thank you enough! You have provided some very inspirational advise during a horrifying time in my life. I feel a bit more empowered to represent myself clearly and effectively. I am a simple woman who stays at home with my children of three. I have never given any reason to question my morality or respect for the law. My father is a police officer and husband is a Marine. During a violent criminal act against myself; my County Government extending what I thought was help. My perpetrator was a Military Police Officer and I guess they felt obligated to offer aide. However, it turned into the removal of my 3 children that has now been over 180 days. They have ignored numerous statutes that are designed to enforce clear rules and regulations. Which I thought was not up for interpretation and to protect real abused children . They have quite frankly created 3 more victims who have lost portions of their childhoods and endured incomprehensible pain. This is my last resort in getting my children back home and hopefully helping other families in gaining confidence to speak up.

    • Charles Bohannan Reply

      Hi Tricia — I appreciate you sharing your fear and vulnerability. The more you can be present with your situation, the stronger you become, and the more powerful your letter will be. I know you can do it.

  7. MiCHELE Reply

    Do you have any examples of the perfect letter to someone important to you However at this point you need their help with the relationship between a shared child . Thank you

  8. del Reply

    Thank you. I’m so glad I found this article. It is truly a better strategy than begging. Thank you so much for clarifying the process of getting what you need in an efficient manner 🙂

  9. Jennifer Reply

    Never change the font or margins to make your letter fit on one page. Write less.

    Always sign in blue ink, to show it is an original signature, not a copy.

    I think there should be 2 articles, one for a letter that gets you something you want that will change your life, and a separate letter for putting something behind you. The pointers in this article are very aggressive and negative.

    • Charles Bohannan Reply

      Hi Jennifer — I admit to feeling aggressive and negative when I wrote this blog post almost 7 years ago. In fact, I had just written a letter of resignation to my former boss in what was a very toxic work situation.

      As for your advice, it’s excellent. I agree with all of it. Blue ink is something I never thought of, and it makes sense. And the 2 article suggestion is spot on, as letters do indeed fall into one or the other intent. I’ve written both, and may reconsider splitting this blog post into two section. Thanks for your comments.