Thursday, February 28, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge – Week 4

FHWC2013It’s the last day of the challenge and time for my final report.  And even though this was a super-busy week for me, I still managed to get in four out of seven days of writing.  Let’s see how the last week went.

On Friday and Saturday (the 22nd and 23rd), I continued to write about my Schwartz family, this time focusing on Ferdinand, my third great-grandfather.  Friday’s word count was 280 and Saturday’s was 208, both just above my 200 words per day goal.

Crazy week ensued and no writing (well not for the challenge anyway) was done from Sunday through Tuesday.  By Wednesday, my plans changed a little bit and I managed to get my draft done for the next Surname Saturday post.  This post will be on my Stoffel family (which will be post on March 1) and was 731 words.

Today, being the last day, I had to make sure to squeeze in some time to get some writing done.  I switched my focus from the Schwartz family to the Kremer family.  They are connected by marriage and both families are from Luxembourg.  Since I plan on doing some sort of project with these Luxembourg families, it was nice to get a good start on the writing and also see where I need to focus future research.

Week 4 yielded a total of 1,478 words, which is just above the weekly goal of 1,400.  This was my lowest weekly word count for the entire month.  But it’s better than 0 words, right?

Overall, I think I did pretty well for the month.  I intended to write everyday, but that didn’t always work out.  But in the end, I still accomplished quite a bit.

Here’s what my stats look like for the month:


# of Days I Wrote

# of Words I Wrote

# of Hours I Spent

Week 1




Week 2




Week 3




Week 4








*Included quite a bit of research time.

I think that’s pretty good.  Over 10,000 words in 15 days.  Not bad considering my goal for the month was 5,600…I wrote double that in half the time!  But imagine what I could have done in 28 days…maybe next year’s challenge will be different.

For me, this challenge was about trying to get in as much writing as I could, but more importantly, I wanted to track everything I did for the challenge.  By tracking the project, the number of words, and the number of hours, it gives me a better idea on what tasks can be done and how long they will probably take so that I can better plan out my week from both a work and personal perspective.  It also helps me get an idea about word count and time for certain types of writing projects, which is helpful in planning submissions for publication or better estimating my client writing projects.

Now that the challenge is over, how did you do?  Did you accomplish what you set out to do?  Did you learn anything from the experience?  I’d love to hear about your accomplishments and/or learnings, so please leave me a comment, even if it’s just a link to your blog post about your challenge experience.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Self-Publishing for the Family Historian, Is It For You?

I am no expert when it comes to the topic of self-publishing, but I know people who are.  It’s been a hot topic lately, both in the genealogical community and in general.  I’ve come across several MP900430487articles that may help you decide whether self-publishing is something you want to pursue.

Biff Barnes, historian and writer behind the Stories to Tell Blog, kicked off the new year with a series of posts about self-publishing.  If you are considering publishing a book in the near future, these are must-read posts. 

I’ve also run across several posts on the subject of self-publishing from various writers.  All of these posts offer general advice about self-publishing and do not relate to genealogy specifically.  Nonetheless, they are still worth the read.

The remainder of these posts come from the genealogy world and offer advice on making the most of self-publishing, as well as some insight on various tools.

After reading some of these posts, do you think self-publishing is something you want to pursue?  Or do you think you’ll stick to the traditional route?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, so be sure to leave me a comment and voice your opinion.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge – Week 3

FHWC2013I was a little bit more on target this week, managing to write five out of seven days.  Here’s how the week went.

On Friday, February 15, I drafted my Surname Saturday post, which was 492 words and took about a half hour.

Hubby worked on Saturday, giving me a chance to get some writing done.  I decided to write about my second great-granduncle, Henry Schwartz, following up with what I did in Week 2 on his brother John (my second great-grandfather).  I still haven’t decided what to do with these write-ups, but I did use it as an opportunity to play around with Scrivener a bit.  That write-up was 492 words and took about an hour.

I snuck in some writing on Sunday and prepared my Genealogy By the States post for Maryland, writing about my husband’s (possible) eighth great-grandfather, Johann Bohn.  The post ended up being 680 words and took an hour-and-a-half to write.

Trying to stay ahead of my schedule, I prepared my Surname Saturday post for this coming weekend.  It was 612 words and took 45 minutes.

Other priorities got the best of me on Tuesday and Wednesday, so no “challenge” writing got done.

Today, I took some time to write down what I had learned about a nephew (that popped up out of nowhere) of my third great-grandfather, James Mulligan, in hopes of figuring out what the connection is.  Based on what I’ve found so far, I’m thinking that it’s a son of a sister of James.  This write-up was 298 words.

So for Week 3, I wrote a total of 2,574 words (weekly goal was 1,400).  To date, my word count is 8,730, which is well over where I should be (4,200 @ 200 words/day).  I have a crazy schedule for the rest of the month so I ‘m not sure how well I will do in Week 4.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get in a little writing each day.

We’re nearing the finish line!  Only one week left to go.  How have you done so far?  Do you plan to continue trying to write a little each day after the challenge is over?  Drop me a note and let me know!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Story@Home Instagram Photo Contest

Story@Home is a new addition to RootsTech this year.  Story@Home offers class sessions with award-winning storytellers, performers, and speakers to help attendees explore ways to use the power of story to connect with their family.  You can learn more about Story@Home on the RootsTech Conference website.


Story@Home is running an Instagram Photo Contest.  Here are the contest details:

Prize – Story@Home + Getting Started pass ($79 value), which is access to all Story@Home classes and Getting Started classes all three days of RootsTech 2013.

Contest Dates – February 20th-24th

How to Enter – Snap a picture you think tells a story.  Examples include family, friends, places, events, mementos—anything that has meaning for you.  Upload the photo to Instagram and share with Story@Home what story your photo tells. Include the hashtags #tellyourstory and #storyathome.

The winner will be chosen by and announced on the Story@Home Facebook page Monday, February 25, 2013. "Like" Story@Home on Facebook to find out if you've won.

Family History Writing Challenge – Week 2

FHWC2013Week 1 was a so-so week, which you can read about here.  I did a little bit better this week, but I still didn’t write every day.  Here’s how Week 2 went for me.

On February 8, I drafted my Surname Saturday post about my Schwartz family from Luxembourg.  The post ended up being 2,904 words (14% over my 200 words/day goal) and took about 2.5 hours to write and format.

Then of course came the weekend.  It’s the only chance I get to spend with my husband, plus it was his birthday and Valentine’s Day wrapped together.  So writing had to take a backseat.

Come Monday, the 11th, I decided to do a write-up about one of the families I blogged about in the Surname Saturday post.  I wrote a 412 word “bio” about John and Margarethe (Kremer) Schwartz, that I plan to turn into some sort of scrapbook collage.  The writing, along with a little bit of research, took about an hour-and-a-half.

There was just too much going on Tuesday, so no writing that day.

On Wednesday, day 13, I drafted a blog post for the Genealogy By the States theme.  This week’s state was Massachusetts, so I continued the story of Gov. John Webster from the Connecticut post last week.  That post was 623 words and took about 2 hours.

And finishing out Week 2, I wrote 478 words related to my Garrison family.  Much of this writing was compiling my research, analysis, and thoughts on a tricky project.  But the point is, it’s out of my head and written down!

So my total word count for the week was 4,417.  And even though I only wrote four out of seven days (hey, that’s better than two days last week!!), I’m was way over my weekly goal of 1,400. 

My overall total so far is 6,156, which is well over where I should be with a 200 words/day goal.  In fact, I’ve actually written in two weeks (technically six days), what I set out to accomplish in four weeks, so that’s pretty good.  By looking at my word count each day so far, I think that my 200 words/day goal was maybe a little on the low side.  But I’m not about to change it, as I start my Scrivener course on Tuesday, which will have me busy everyday into March.  This was part of the reason I kept my word count low, because I knew half the month was going to be super-busy.

How are you progressing in the Family History Writing Challenge?  Drop me a note and let me know!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge – Week 1

The Family History Writing Challenge started on February 1, and I am off to a rocky start…well sort of.  Here’s the scoop for the first week.

On February 1, I wrote my blog post for the Surname Saturday theme, Surname Saturday: Rottman (Bavaria / Georgia / Iowa / Illinois).  It was 938 words (4.69% of my 200 words/day goal—hey, I’m ahead of the game!!) and took two hours of writing and formatting.  So it looked like I was off to a great start.

Then the weekend came, as did a stomach bug (that I’m still battling), so nothing got done.  By Tuesday, I was working on a blog post for the Family History Through the Alphabet theme.  Unfortunately, it really didn’t have anything to do with writing about my family history.  I spent two days and 17.5 hours writing and formatting a guide for how to use Diigo (a social bookmarking website) to build a genealogy resource toolbox.  In total, I wrote 5,297 words over those two days, but since it wasn’t about my family history, I don’t think it should count (but hey, I did write something genealogy-related, so that’s a good thing, right?).

Today, I wrote my blog post for the Genealogy By the States theme, and I made sure it had something to do with my family history.  So I wrote about my 11th great-grandfather, John Webster, and my 10th great-granduncle, Robert Treat, who both served as governor for the Colony of Connecticut.  I managed to crank out 801 words in five hours (part of that time included some additional research).  Again, I was over my 200 words/day goal by 4%.

I know the goal is to write a certain amount of words EACH day, and my goal was 200.  And although I only spent two out of seven days writing about my family history, I actually did surpass my overall goal.  For seven days at 200 words/day, I should have accumulated 1,400 words total.  I wrote a total of 1,739 for the week, so I feel like I am achieving my goal, just a little differently.  And, hey, add in the nearly 5,300 words that were genealogy-related, heck, I made the goal for the month (and then some) in just four days of writing! 

But unfortunately, that is not the point of the challenge.  The point is to write a little bit each day.  And now that I’ve gotten that big writing project out of my system, hopefully the stomach bug will follow and I can manage to get a little bit done each day for the rest of the month.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge Begins Today!

FHWC2013It’s official.  Today marks the start of the third annual Family History Writing Challenge!  People all over the genealogy and family history community are taking this 28-day challenge, which entails a little bit of writing each day.  I will be participating again this year, and you can read more about my goals here.

Haven’t made the commitment yet?  That’s okay.  Head over to the Family History Writing Challenge website to sign up.  This nice thing about stating your goal publicly is that it makes you accountable and gives you a reason to follow through on your goal.  When you sign up, you receive inspirational emails each day during the challenge.  You should also consider participating in the forum, where you can ask questions, seek advice and encouragement, or help others on their quest.

Not convinced?  There are several family history writing articles posted at the challenge blog from last year, with more coming throughout the challenge.  These articles will give you ideas, encouragement, and advice to help you on your journey.  And for those who feel they just don’t have time, check out the post I wrote for last year’s challenge:  6 Tips for the Time-Starved Family History Writer.

Come on…what are you waiting for?  Join me in the Family History Writing Challenge!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...