T’S THE FINAL DAY OF THE FAMILY HISTORY WRITING CHALLENGE 2013 and time to take stock. Though not officially over for a few hours yet I’m declaring myself officially done. At the beginning of this I pledged to write 350 words a day toward my paternal family history.
So how did I do?
As so often happens, “real life” intervened on a freakishly regular basis and I didn’t meet the goal of writing every single day — however — I did manage to put something to paper most days and by the end reached my word count goal. Of course, the writing wasn’t the only thing gained from this experience, I also learned a couple of interesting things along the way:
1. Sometimes the story you WANT to tell isn’t the story you NEED to tell
You sit down with the day’s writing all mapped out in your head — research is to hand, tea/coffee cup is steaming and your fingers are itching to get typing. And then something strange happens. The story you start to tell goes off on a tangent or those itching fingers suddenly seize up. The solution? Just let go — of plans, outlines, whatever — and give whatever wants to come out free rein. It might be gold, it might junk, but there’s no getting any further down the road until you let it be written.
2. History is NOT at dirty word
I found that many of the ancestors I’m most drawn to write about either have huge gaps in their timelines or require research into questions like what life was really like in the Royal Navy at the turn of century or how long it took to travel by train from Quebec City to Calgary in 1908. As a result I dug more deeply into local and social history books than ever before and in the process gained a much fuller picture of my ancestors lives & times.
3. Just write
Perhaps the most important take-away of all — don’t stop. The only way to get anything written is to write — whether or not it’s “good”, whether or not you feel like it, even when it almost breaks your fingers to type because the words are so hard coming — JUST WRITE.
So a huge shout out to Lynn Palermo for offering this challenge once again and keeping those who participated motivated with daily emails to support and guide the development of plot, character, theme and so much more. As well, the guest posts from authors who’ve already succeeded in writing and publishing family histories were a wonderful source of information and inspiration.
And if you missed this year’s challenge, Lynn’s site is loaded with advice for getting that family history written. I encourage all to visit and make use of this excellent resource.