Trips to the mailbox are happier because of Nicole Fraser’s work. As a greeting card writer at American Greetings in Cleveland, Ohio, Nicole has been a part of millions of birthdays, special occasions, and everyday hellos. "I use my creativity to bring people closer together," she says. "That’s a great feeling."
Greeting card writers help people express thoughts and sentiments. "Greeting cards have to feel very personal, as if the words apply to you specifically," says Nicole. "But they also have to feel very personal to thousands of other card shoppers." To accomplish this feat, writers look for emotions many people share, such as the feeling of freedom after graduating from school.
Card writers like Nicole usually write to fill a specific request. Their editors tell them the types of cards the company needs, such as cards for a birthday or a Mother’s Day line. Editors give writers information about the card’s sender and receiver, including details about their ages, genders, and relationship to each other.
To find common themes to write about, Nicole follows the latest cultural trends. She reads modern poetry, looks through magazines and comic strips, and skims popular novels, including Oprah’s Book Club selections—all of which are in her company’s library. Other card writers in her office read sociology and psychology books and watch television shows. "We have to know the language people are using today," she says.Greeting card writers choose their prose to fit the sender, whose style of speech is often different from their own. "One of the hardest things for me to learn was how to write for male card senders," Nicole says. "There are some words that men typically don’t use in conversation, like ‘treasure,’ ‘joy,’ or ‘precious.’" For teenagers, Nicole might use slang; for younger people, she uses short, simple words. All writers learn the speaking styles of different types of people in different situations.