2023—The Year You Complete a Family History Project!

Following up on my recent presentation, “Sharing Our Family’s Stories” (for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Connecticut), I thought it might be a good time to invite you to take my version of Mike Karsen’s “Legacy Pledge.”  Mike offers you a choice of two gifts when you accomplish his pledge to share your family history work within 6 months or a year. Here’s what I’ll offer:

  • The exhilaration one feels upon meeting a goal.
  • Smiles on the faces of your relatives when they finally can enjoy the results of all your work.
  • The knowledge that you are an important person. You have information and objects to pass on to your children, your local history society, and those in the future.
  • The chance to inspire someone else to do the same.

I’m sure there are more benefits—perhaps you can share what you discovered when you finish your project!

As I write this, there are 35 days left in the year 2022. There are likely to be less than that when you read this. That’s okay. No one said you have to meet your goals by year’s end. (Oh—wait. Did you make a resolution about completing a project in 2022? Silly you!)

I always say, “My resolution is to make no resolutions.” That ensures I won’t disappoint myself at the end of the year, right? Nope. Those unfinished projects still nag at me whether or not I make an “official” resolution. As I mentioned in my presentation, there are many excuses we use in order to justify not completing our projects. Which category do you fall into?

And, here are some suggestions for overcoming them:

All of the above are brilliant suggestions. But I must tell you—the SINGLE most important thing that helped me finish the first draft of my 92,500-word family history novel was… wait for it…

THE SUPPORT OF OTHERS

Yes, it was a little scary to share my writing for the first time. However, the feedback I received was invaluable. Turns out, I don’t suck! At least not 100% of the time.

It wasn’t just all about feedback. Joining a group of like-minded people also helped.[1] I wanted to finish something so I could hear what they thought. And, I learn from the group members as well. Everyone in the group is at a different stage with their writing. Some are beginners, and others have published several books. Their ages and experiences also vary. But we all have one thing in common—the desire to share our family stories.

Perhaps you also have a story (or two, or twenty!) that you want to share, but you just need some nudging to get started. Think about joining a writing group at your local library or your local Adult Education Center. Or maybe start a blog. (Watch my presentation on Blogging: Sharing Your Family History,)

Here are a few tips that may help you get started:

Just start writing!!! It doesn’t matter what you write, just start! You may be surprised to find the momentum keeps going once you start. Don’t wait until all your research is finished to get started. (Because it never will be!)

“It’s better to share some information 

now 

than all information 

never!

Mike Karsen, 2013

Keep a file of stories. I keep a running list of story ideas on the Notes app on my phone. When I feel inspired, I choose one to expand upon.

Short stories or Ancestor profiles. Rather than attempting a huge multi-generational book, start small. Write a short story (about 1,000 -2,000 words), or choose one ancestor to “profile.” Lynn Palermo has a great course if you are interested in learning about this genre of family history writing.

Don’t worry about quality – JUST WRITE!! This is YOUR story! There is no wrong way to do it. Your story is unique and so is your voice. Stop worrying about what others will think of your writing. If you are just starting out, drop the criticism. You will get better with practice.

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to consider working on sharing your family history during the coming year. I may not be offering you a “tangible reward,” but I guarantee you—the satisfaction you will feel upon finishing a project will be worth it!


[1] I joined Lynn Palermo’s Writing Challenge in February 2022. (https://www.familyhistorywritingstudio.com/) Nine months later, a group of us still meet online several times a week.

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