Posted in Stories

Two Years of Family History Blogging – 2

Happy 2nd Birthday to The Keeper of Stories
Happy 2nd Birthday to The Keeper of Stories

 

My 2nd “blogging birthday” had me reflecting on how I started my blog and where I could have done better.  The very first thing that I had to work out was what I wanted from my blog – sounds easy doesn’t it!  I personally didn’t put enough thought into this section of the blogs development.  I was so enthusiastic and excited about starting my family blog through The Keeper of Stories that I just didn’t take the time to think it through completely.  All I really thought of was starting a Family History Blog, not what information I wanted to include, how I wanted to present that information, the time it would take me to write the stories I wanted to include, or even who I wanted to provide that information for.  These points desperately need consideration BEFORE you start to build your blog.  In all honesty I had no idea of the time and commitment starting a blog would require.

Balloons

Looking back now I can see that after two years of blogging (and loving every minutes of it!) I have really only developed two golden rules and they are:

  • Always work in advance of publication by about a month – two months if at all possible
    • Draw up a plan for publication.  Identify which stories you want to publish and when, and then add these to your monthly calendar.  This will help you with your time management skills, as you will know at a glance how much work has yet to be completed in any given week or month.  You can also add additional stories to your calendar as you come across them in your research.  I currently have a twelve month plan for stories, interviews, scanning of postcards and recipes etc. in place.  I find that I am constantly adding to or revising the plan by shifting things around, but that just keeps things interesting!
    • Before you start publishing anything, work hard to build a body of work over a period of two months, that you are completely satisfied is correct and presented in the best way for your chosen demographic.  You may plan on publishing something monthly, weekly – or even daily, but this step is vital when setting up your blog. Please don’t overlook it in your excitement to start blogging, as your work will be so much better for the time you spend on preparation.  So much “life” can get in your way of blogging, and lets face it  – nobody chooses to miss out on a birthday celebration, Christmas, or a child’s school assembly (for instance) because they have to work on an article for their blog. It just won’t happen.  But life’s little adventures can set you far behind in you blogging if you don’t plan for uncertainty.
    • of course – rules are meant to be broken, and I often don’t achieve what I set out to do so far in advance.  This used to lead me into a last minute panic to “put something out there”, which in turn led to my publishing a piece in a hurry and knowing in my heart that I could have presented it better.  I don’t do that anymore.  I work in advance and schedule my publications which allows me to put my best effort into everything that I write.  It also allows me time and energy to put into my family and having fun with them.

balloons 3

  • Try to write a story around the known information and not just present the facts
    • If, like me, you aren’t a writer this part of blogging can be quite tricky.  Just putting out facts and figures is “boring” to most people, so don’t even try it on your blog.  You don’t have to be the new Dan Brown, Anna Romer or Jean Auel  when it comes to writing, but you do have to learn some basic skills, and I would strongly encourage anyone that is going to start a blog to invest some time in learning the craft of story writing and story telling.  There are so many ways in which you can do this but I personally joined the “Family History Writing Challenge” by Lyn Palermo back in 2013.  This challenge is run each February and is free, and has provided me with invaluable help and resources in relation to writing my family history.  Give it a go, it’s as much fun – as it is work!  I start planning my February in the Nov/Dec of the year before so that I’m not only free for that month to write every day, but that I have work scheduled for publication on my own blog for that month as well.
    • Put your heart into what you write.  I’m still learning this part and I have a long way to go! I think that this skill takes a long time to develop because, as an adult, I am constantly worried about how people will view my work and what they will think of the way I present it.  I believe that you have to let that particular worry go – as hard as that is to do –  and bring out the inner childlike confidence you had a kid – easier said than done I know, but worth trying!  Put your feelings onto that piece of paper or into what you type.  Convey your  ancestor’s happiness and sorrow, or any emotion in between so that the person reading your work can “feel” what it was like to live the life your ancestor lived.  Create the visual home they lived in, the smell of the fireplace burning or polish on old wooden furniture, describe the view from the rocking chair on the front veranda.  Let your reader see how your great, great grandmother was dressed by explaining the fashion of the period.  Was your great great Grandmother dressed in finery, or was she poor with barely enough clothing to keep her warm?  Allow your reader to experience the sorrow and pain, laughter and joy through your description of it!

So there you have it.  I’m no expert at blogging, let me be very clear about that.  I can’t teach research techniques because I find I often stumble across information about my ancestor – not through any research guideline set down by formal educators – but by sheer dumb luck!  I can’t teach anybody writing techniques because I’m still learning myself – and honestly – I think it’s going to be a lifetime process!

What I can offer is my knowledge “after the fact”.  I can tell you the things that I have learned along the way through starting The Keeper of Stories, and hopefully these little insights will be of help to someone out there.  Good luck to you, make a start on that plan for a  Family History Blog today to ensure that your ancestor’s story lives into the future, and isn’t lost forever in the emptiness of time.

balloons 4

Sources:

The Family History Writing Challenge:  http://www.familyhistorywritingchallenge.com/

Birthday Picture:  https://dontdoubtwhatyouwrite.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/2nd-birthday.jpg

Birthday Balloons 1:  http://teleflora.edgesuite.net/images/products/VL_394185.jpg

Birthday Balloons 2:  http://tawnyweber.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/bigstock-Balloons-party-birthday-balloo-57865520-copy.jpg

Birthday Balloons 3:  http://www.bellazon.com/main/uploads/monthly_06_2013/post-57839-0-91552600-1370328369.jpg

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