Hannah Brencher has written a lot of letters. They are not addressed to congressmen or businesses, but to strangers. She founded an organization that encourages people to leave love letters to strangers in different places like cafes, train stations, and coat pockets in department stores. This movement has now spread all around the globe, and thousands of people have written about the positive impact of finding or receiving such a letter. She’s also written a beautiful book detailing the journey of her letter writing. Here, Hannah shares some wise advice from her mom, how creating the organization changed her, and whether she thinks the sacrifices she’s made along the way have been worth it.
University: Assumption College
Secretly Obsessed With: Pretty Little Liars
On My Nightstand: Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty
Last Thing You Read: Scary Close by Donald Miller
How did you get started?
More Love Letters was a complete accident in my eyes. I began leaving love letters around the city of New York and it unexpectedly morphed into me spending a year writing hundreds of letters to strangers across the world who requested them of me.
I ended up turning the letter writing into a bigger organization so others could get involved. That was More Love Letters. It was very grassroots at the time– a simple MailChimp, a few campaign ideas, a small team, and a lot of heart.
What does your daily routine look like?
My daily routine looks like getting up early in the morning to start writing. I write for the first 3-4 hours of the morning before deciding to break into anything or check my email. After my writing for the day is done, I get into more logistical/creative work for More Love Letters, speaking engagements, or whatever clients I am working with. Most nights are spent editing if I am working late. I save meetings for later in the day so that I am able to relax a little more and let people into my space.
What key elements played into your success?
I place a lot of the credit to my faith being so strong. I really attribute so much of the goodness to God and his favor. Apart from that, I have been determined, hard-working, and willing to make sacrifices. It was not easy to give up a lot of normal things at the age of 23 and 24 to travel and create, but it was worth it in the end. If you want to be successful, you must be willing to make sacrifices and feel the weight of those sacrifices.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten actually came from my mother. She told me one day, “Less words. More work.” That’s become my mantra for things. Stop talking so much and just put your head down to do the work.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
You face a lot of people thinking you are too young. A lot of wishing you had a roadmap or that someone would tell you which direction to steer. You trip and fall over business deals, and you have to be willing to hustle hard, because no one is going to bring you your paycheck at the end of the day. The road has in no way been easy, but it’s been totally worth it.
Who was the biggest influence in your work?
I would say Lara Casey. She is a huge inspiration to me. I constantly feel pushed because of her.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? When do you feel most successful?
I think my greatest accomplishment has been the publication of my first book. I wanted that my whole entire life, so it’s surreal to see the thing finished and sitting on bookshelves. As far as what makes me feel successful, it isn’t something you can measure or display to the world. It’s quiet conversations with people I love, and knowing that I am affecting people’s lives on a micro level, and helping them to change and live better.
How has creating “More Love Letters” affected your life?
It has changed everything. It’s shifted my whole direction. It’s opened me to the darkness in this world and the great chance to be a light.
What are your plans for the future?
More writing. More creating. More books. As long as I am making things, I will be happy.
What advice would you give to girls looking to begin a similar initiative?
Be willing to fail and try again and keep at it, even when you think nothing is moving. It’s not going to be pretty and it won’t be romantic. There will be a lot of late nights and a lot of frustration. But nothing worth it in life is ever sweet and poetic and simple. If you stick with it, though, you will learn and grow and see the fruit. You will come out daily as a different person, and what else could be the point of this lifetime?