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    « There’s a Song for Everything. Should You Use Its Lyrics in Your Book? | Main | Letters and Diaries: A Family Historian’s Windows into His Ancestor’s World »

    Transform Your Family History Book from a Dream to a Specific Goal

    The first step in the process of actually creating the family history book you keep saying you will write someday is to transform  it from a dream to a specific goal on your to do list.

    Courtesy of Carmen's Psychic Donut

    Genealogical research is infinite. There’s always more to do. As long as you’re focused on research your book remains a dream.

    A book is finite. It requires specific actions to make it a reality. The first step is to set a target date for completion. “I’ll have my book written by _____.” Once you have established a target date, you can plan backward from that date to set sub-goals which will lead you to completion of the book.

    Determining the scope of your book is a good first step in planning. Will your book focus on one family line? Will it deal with a specific number of generations? Or a specific chronological frame? By limiting your book’s scope you make your task more manageable. You can choose to focus on the area of your family’s history where your research is most complete.

    Next take inventory of what you have already gathered in your research. Consider what factual records and family stories you have. Do you have supplementary material about the time and place in which various ancestors lived?  Do you want to include charts or documents? Do you have photographs to include? Most family historians find that they already have more of what they will need to create a book than they thought they did?

    Decide on the best way to organize your book. Will you use a straight chronological arrangement or focus on topics which run through several generations like military service, religious faith, entrepreneurship, or the importance of education? Would biographical sketches work better? Might combining more than one organizational tool produce a better book?

    As you take inventory and create the plan for your book you will see the areas that will require additional research. That research is often specific and far more limited in scope than might have seemed necessary before you began to create the book’s specific outline.

    With a clear plan of the steps you’ll need to take to get your book written the project will feel much more manageable than it does while it remains a distant dream. You will be clear on what you need to do and be able to take the specific steps necessary to achieve your goal.

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