Family History Writing Studio

Lynn Palermo of the Armchair Genealogist has put together a great resource for anyone writing their family history. The studio was inspired by her annual Family History Writing Challenge. I think the writing part is the most intimidating part of putting together a family history, so for me this is a wonderful resource. So if your like me and need some help in this area, here is some of what you will find in the Family History Writing Studio.

What’s in the Writing Studio
Workbooks – Lynn’s series of Family History Writing Workbooks are designed to build on one another. Each workbook looks at one aspect of writing your family history narratives. Filled with worksheets, they will help you apply the various elements of creative nonfiction to your own research and ancestors.
Webinars – On-demand webinars work nicely with Lynn’s workbooks. They provide exercises and examples to expand on the workbook content. They are designed for you to watch over and again at your convenience. There will also be stand-alone content, addressing a variety of needs family history writers face.
Courses – Our online courses are designed for writers who want to have a more in-depth look at a particular aspect of writing in a more intimate environment. Lessons will be delivered in a variety of formats from downloadable worksheets, workbooks, and videos. All courses include private groups and forums to bring the class together for discussions and critiques with the teacher. Classes are small to provide a more personal learning environment.
Personal Coaching – If you’re nervous about sharing in a group environment then personal coaching might be more your style. In the personal coaching section, Lynn offers a couple of options to work privately work with her, whether it be to brainstorm your story or book or for a critique of your written narrative.

2014 Family History Writing Challenge

The Armchair Genealogist is planning her Family History Writing Challenge for 2014. At this point she is asking what our biggest writing challenges are, other than time. You can comment on her blog or on Facebook. In 2012 Lynn did 29 day writing challenge from February 1 – 29th. And it looks like she repeated the challenge in 2013. Now she is going to change-up the challenge a bit and while I don’t know what will be, I’m committing now to participate in The Family History Writing Challenge in 2014. I’ll let you know when she posts more information about the challenge but it would be awesome if everyone would seriously consider taking on this challenge.

A Little Bittle of Summer

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I came across this writing exercise from Blurb’s August Newsletter today and wanted to share it here. They suggest writing about your summer but you could also use this approach on any subject or person you having been wanting to do a story project about.

Here’s a brand-new writing exercise to help you capture the summer of 2013 and inspire a bit of a creative energy. As the season fades and we head indoors to hibernate for the winter, this exercise can help you get the most from your memories and make sure they’re not lost forever.

Visual references can be powerful catalysts for writing; photographs, illustrations, and visuals can often help to overcome writer’s block. A train or bus ticket, a menu, a business card, an eye-catching flyer—these are just a few examples of the visual references we collect as we move around in the world. When combined with the images we deliberately record with our cameras, these accidental souvenirs can serve as powerful reminders of particular moments in time.

Using visual cues like these in your writing exercises is a great way to get started on a book—or to just ignite the spark that gets your creative fire burning.

  • Select several of your most treasured objects, accidental souvenirs, and images from your summer activities.
  • Play with some ideas. Will this piece of writing document an event or set of events? Is it a poem, a short story, or something else? Decide on your approach, process, and genre.
  • Write for a fixed amount of time, say 20 to 30 minutes, and see where it takes you. Repeat until you feel you’ve captured what’s in your head on the page (or screen).
  • Refine the results. Keep editing and refining until you’re satisfied with the words and then dive straight into making your book. Now is the time to weave in your visual cues. Get your photographs, drawings, artifacts—whatever inspired you—into digital format and import them into your book project.
  • Explore different layouts to create the best combinations of your words and images

It may take it a week or two—or if you’re incredibly efficient, an hour or two—but once your Summer 2013 book is finished you’ll have secured some special memories in print. (You can also create an ebook version in a flash.) After all, as Henry David Thoreau once said, “One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.”

Now I just need to carve out a few minutes and try this exercise. It’s a good friend’s daughter passed away and they are asking for memories to put together for her brand new baby so that he will know about his mother. This would be a great things to do for that project.

Are you up to a writing challenge too? If I can do it so can you. Writing is one of my big mental blocks.