©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Personal Writing Challenge

Having just finished writing up one line of my family which was three years in the doing, I’ve embarked on my next major project which is writing the family history of Alice Davey Higgins, my mother-in-law. Instead of taking just one line, I’m planning on addressing all four of her grandparents surnames – Davey, Stephens, Ellstrom, Christiansen (and a little Larson) – in one publication.

To start, I have to go back through all my previous research from as early as 1995, as well as add to it where information is missing. On a couple of these lines, other cousins, especially Shirlee Eddy and Nancy Poquette, have done extension research and I’ll have to do my best to give them credit for their work. In some cases, this may be difficult as we have duplicated effort many times over.  Also, so many more “real” documents and such are online now than when I began, I’ve already found myself being sidetracked from an initial focus for my research project. (I’m not complaining; this is my favorite part.)

That said, I feel I should make sure I keep my writing skills honed. I need to keep an edge to relaying what I learn. I need to train myself to turn information into stories; to turn data into biographies.
I don’t know any other way to do this than to keep writing. It doesn’t really matter what I write at this point. It can be a blog post about finding something great; I can go back and work on my own life stories which I hope to share with my grandchildren one day. I can write about the crappy weather we’re having this spring in Illinois and how I wish it would just warm-up already! But I need to keep writing.

The question is how do I keep myself going with the writing when I have so much research/review to do? How can I make sure I get something down before I go off on some research tangent and the hours I have allotted to the project are gone? Well, first I’m going to challenge myself to write x-number of words a day (haven’t decided on the number yet) just like Lynn Palermo, The Armchair Genealogist, challenges us every February, and second I will require myself to write first, then move to the research/review.

In order to do this, I’ll have to learn and exercise discipline. I’m not known for my discipline but I’m sure it’s a great thing to have. Perhaps by the end of this project I’ll have developed a whole new side of myself - one that knows how to control her desires and to manage her time. Even if I falter, which without doubt will happen, my hope is to get right back on track and do this thing!

Let’s just say every day I “work” (that’s what the dog and I do when I go into my office) will begin with writing and, if there is only enough time for that, then that’s all that will get done.
I see by my word count this post is just over 500 words and it has taken me about ½ hour to complete. I think that’s doable without being onus and there’s still plenty of time to get to my other tasks. So, 500 words a day is my goal.

Wish me luck!


PS: As reminder, I’m going to keep a copy of this post on my desktop so I’ll see, at least the title, every time I boot-up this computer.


  1. Congratulations on your decision. Let me know how things go! (And how in the world do you shush up at 500 words? My family and friends know there is no way I can do that! 8-) Maybe I need to try harder.)

  2. Congratulations! Wishing you much success as you tackle this challenge.

  3. Deb, Thanks for the encouragement. I'll need all I can get:)

    Anonymous, I have to stop so I can get on to other tasks. That will be both my incentive to start and to stop:)

    Thanks for stopping by, ~Becky