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Jan 12 13 6:04 AM

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It's time! Yesterday I officially launched The Family History Challenge for another year. I'm happy to report enthusiasm is high. We have lots of new members joining us this year and a few have already tipped their baby toe into the forum. Let's welcome them alumni! 

You'll see your first newsletter this coming week, and I'm excited about our guest authors this year. They have some exciting topics planned for us once again. Lots of things coming your way so settle in we are 3 three weeks away and have lots of tools to get you organized and prepared to write. 

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#1 [url]

Jan 14 13 10:16 PM

I'm excited about taking this year's challenge and about the great guests you have lined up.  The challenge was almost over when I found out about it so I'm happy that a new one is starting and that I could join at the beginning,

I'm committing to 250 words a day but will probably write more most of the time.  250 cuts me some slack on those days when life gets in the way.  Looking forward to the challenge and all that's connected to it.

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#4 [url]

Jan 23 13 8:59 AM

I think this is a very exciting challenge and just what I need. I have been saying I would ‘publish’ my research for years and never got around to it.

The problem is that I like researching but feel quite ‘shy’ when it comes to showing my writing. I have a wealth of information about my family and it would be such a shame to lose it all.

Before I saw this challenge I had decided that 2013 was the year I was going to write and to help me out I started a journal committing to write for 15 minutes a day for 30 days. I decided to write the old fashioned way with paper and pen to stop me getting bogged down in editing and making the Word document look ‘pretty’. I have found that doing this has enabled me to be more creative and freer in my writing. I have also found that I can easily average 450 words in this 15 minute slot.

So my word count per day pledge has to be a minimum of 450. The story will probably take the form of family history narrative with personal memories. I’m not quite ready to write a blog yet, but who knows, in time I’m sure that’s the way I will go. 

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#5 [url]

Jan 24 13 5:22 AM

Wonderful Goal Linda! Journaling can be such a great asset to a writer. We're going to talk about it more in an upcoming newsletter. While it too takes discipline it can be very rewarding for a researcher and writer. And pen and paper are not dead. If you're looking for a distraction free zone, this is definitely the way to go!  Would you like to share what kinds of topics you journal about? Memories, your research? 

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#6 [url]

Jan 25 13 7:29 AM

Hi Lynn. 

Thanks for your comments. My journal is about whatever comes to mind in the 15 minutes of writing. I decided that it was more important for me to write than over think what I should say. I do not want to limit myself so I just write what I'm thinking about or what has caught my attention. One of the disciplines I have tried, for my 15 minute a day challenge, was not to read or correct what I had previously written, as this is where I get 'bogged down' with editing and rewriting. I think this has been my biggest challenge.

I have 2 more days to the end of my personal 30 day challenge and wait with interest to see what I had to say :-)

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#7 [url]

Jan 25 13 6:54 PM

I love that you don't rewrite or revise. It will be one of the first things I'll talk about with the challenge. You could spend the next 28 days revising the same 500 words over and over again. 

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#8 [url]

Jan 26 13 4:15 AM

Your post "If not now, then when" was right on.  I have just completed my first issue of a family newsletter that is ready to go in the mail.  My heart is in my throat, wondering how it will be received.

During last year's Writing Challenge, I began what I think will be a legacy book on another branch of the family.  While it is probably over half done, I look forward to seeing all the posts, and getting back at it.  After the challenge, my writing routine slipped a great deal, and not much progress was made. Hopefully this year's challenge will be the push that I need.  Your comment about "don't rewrite or revise" is probably one I need to try to follow.  I seem to get bogged down doing that, and then I don't accomplish much.

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#9 [url]

Jan 26 13 6:45 AM

Having helped several people research and write their family history, it is time that I make progress on my own book. It is through the encouragement of one friend, that I joined this particular challenge.  I love the research and hate the writing. My family history book has been 10 years in the making and comes equipped with an organization plan. However, I need something to break up the traditional genealogy charts and history.

I am proposing to do something a little differently with this challenge which I hope is acceptable.  I would like to write up one short memory, story or description that is more personal in nature that might reveal something about my grandparents, aunts or uncles. In the past, I have interviewed my family for such stories and yet they sit there in the same pile. 

The family history memoir seems to best fit the description for this approach. In preparation, I've sorted through these pages to identify at least 5-10 to get me started for the challenge. I can then add to them by calling family members for more detail. I have solicited a few of the many cousins who have been interested in the family history to ask their parents for some ideas or clarifications too.  I do realize this is my challenge and must not use this as an excuse if new stories don't come rolling in.

My goal then is to FINISH  one  little story or memory per day.. word count be damned! I see these being  a maximum one page -one to ten paragraph; a doable length.  If the story number falls short of 28 days, I will take a section of the already started book and see what I can clean up.  

Thanks for listening!

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#10 [url]

Jan 27 13 6:27 AM

@Blacksheep, there are no rules to this challenge, any and all approaches are completely acceptable. The main goal is to write daily in however format that looks like for you. I think you have a good plan and it sounds like you have plenty of data to get you started. Be careful not to get pulled back into more research when you find a gap while you are writing. Make a quick note and keep writing. Identify your writing time and your research time, this will help you to make progress in both areas while not feeling like one is suffering at the sake of the other. 

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#11 [url]

Jan 27 13 6:30 AM

Thanks Karen, at the time I certainly didn't realize how much that fear was holding me back. It's only in retrospect that I was able to see why I had procrastinated for so long. I hope it helps others to put it out there a move forward with their own writing journey. Good luck with finishing that book this year!! 

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#12 [url]

Jan 27 13 7:19 AM

Thank you for the advice.  Yes, I could easily slip back into the research.  I will try your suggestion and move on.  I appreciate that these may not be the "go to print" versions... but words on paper.  Black Sheep.

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#13 [url]

Jan 27 13 7:41 AM

I am pledging 1000 words a day 5 days a week.  Last year I believe I pledged 250 a day so a big improvement.  I hit a writer's block over summer after writing 10,000 words.  So, finally conquered it in late September and will have reached 80,000 words written since then by the end of today.

My goal is to have the first half of the book in rough or raw draft by Feb. 1 then start Part 2 when the one family member heads to Lake Superior to become the first commercial fisherman.  So the Lake Superior family line will have their story told in Part 2.

While i am working on part 2, I will start the edit process of part 1.  Have been working on getting all the significant of my family details out of my binders and database as well as built local history and community context into the story.  It is very rough but I am writing every day even if it is ugly!

Thanks for the Challenge.... all the tips and insights are motivating and I keep learning more. 

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#14 [url]

Jan 27 13 5:21 PM

I am committed to writing 500 words per day, whether they make sense or not.

My bigger problem will be deciding which blogs to follow on a daily basis!

Kristen Tar Heel Genealogical Services, Inc.

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#17 [url]

Jan 31 13 5:55 AM

I'm very excited to have found this challenge! This is great motivation for me to finally put some focus on my research. Planning for 250 words a day knowing I will be over/under at some points in the process.

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#18 [url]

Jan 31 13 7:48 AM

I've committed to 300 words a day. I'm beginning to wonder how I'll ration my time between reading all the postings on this forum and writing. I imagine I'll learn which subject lines to read about as this gets started.... Tomorrow is the BIG day!


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#20 [url]

Feb 1 13 3:44 AM

I'm impressed by everyone's writing goals. I'm starting with the less scary (for me) goal of writing for half an hour every day. I'm working on a research account focused on one person and her immediate family, showing how my assumptions were wrong, how each bit of research changed my perspective, where I still have gaps, and what I've learned about research. (Hint: read the entire passenger manifest entry, including the second page!)  I've started a blog to track my progress:
My ultimate goals are to have an article-length (or longer) account that will be interesting for non-researching relatives to read, as well as a solid plan for future research. I am also hoping that I will be inspired to start a similar account of another part of the family later on.

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