I believe that how we approach our family history writing has a critical link to the quantity and quality of writing that we produce. I believe that family history writing can and should be a permanent part of our life just like the research. But for that to happen we have to come to some healthy beliefs about family history writing and how it can fit into our lives in a more permanent way.
Much of our writing lives are spent in solitude, both physically and mentally. We hope to produce great results, but we also tend to rush the process. We have to slow down.
Sometimes our own fears of failure may hold us back from the uncomfortable places where writing may take us. We have to be afraid, and yet at the same time, we have to be fearless.
As family history writers, we have to accept the fact that we’re flawed and may fall short of what we may imagine for our stories or family history book. While at the same time, we have to be courageous enough to keep doing the work and trusting in our talents. We have to exercise patience with ourselves.
Sometimes we’ll meet with success, and we’ll be tempted to believe that we’ve made it and from here on everything will be smooth sailing. It won’t be. We need to accept that. Each new family history story that you write will carry its own set of challenges. When we fall short, we’ll be tempted to fall into despair, to give up. We have to resist that summons. We have to keep working steadily on our stories. Being regular with our writing routines. We have to put in the time and the effort. Success will come, maybe slowly, maybe intermittently but it will come if we stick to it.
One thing is simple. The more we do it, the better we do it. Sometimes that means we have to remove ourselves from our loved ones, from the TV set. We have to close the door to our writing rooms and have that period of uninterrupted time to work. We have to be comfortable with the solitude. We sometimes have to be selfish with our time even if we end up disappointing those that matter most to us.
Of course, we should never forget to get out of those writing rooms to explore the world. We have to experience life before we can shape it on the page. We have to open ourselves to the world and all its mysteries, flaws, and wonders.
If you keep in mind that family history writing is a lifelong apprenticeship with peaks and valleys, you’ll be alright. And when it comes to those peaks and valleys, well, I encourage you not to dwell too long in those valleys. In addition, don’t forget to take the time to celebrate the peaks. This would be one of them. But not too long. You have to get back to writing.