Do you wish you could write your family history faster? If you feel the proverbial need for speed when writing, then you have to narrow the scope of your story.
Now the scope is not a flavor of mouthwash. It’s the focus of our family history books and projects. We can focus on a person, a group of people, or a place.
For beginning family history writers, your first task involves writing a rough draft. Then you can edit it for publication.
However, if you have a broad scope, you’ll never finish your first draft.
Watch this video on YouTube.
Why you are not writing a family history quickly
If you have researched your family tree, and you want to share everything with your family, you are already limiting your ability to write quickly.
You can’t write about everything in every ancestor’s life
I mean, the rock band Queen might sing,
“I want it all (yeah) I want it all, and I want it now.”
However, you can’t modify the lyrics to the following and be successful.
“I’ll write it all (yeah) I’ll write it all, and I’ll write it now.”
So, let’s discuss the vision for your family history book.
Are you trying to publish “The BIG BOOK” about your family tree?
Typical genealogists dream of writing an extensive compendium of dates and details about 6 generations of one surname or family line.
A recent client wanted to publish a four-generation book with details about each individual’s interaction in their community, politics, and business. (And that’s just the beginning!)
A recent workshop attendee wanted to write about eight families who lived in a small town in New Hampshire before migrating to Wisconsin.
Do you think they have finished writing a family history faster than I have?
If you said yes, then you’re wrong. Sorry. The former client and workshop attendee still haven’t finished one page.
By narrowing my scope to writing about one person at a time, I have written the rough draft of 120 ancestors in one year.
I have published two of those stories and will likely finish another this year. One by one, I’ll finish the stories.
Why does having a narrow scope help your write a family history faster?
The reality is many of us are not professional writers.
Writing takes a lot of time, and we’re busy.
Or, we would prefer to be climbing our family tree rather than writing about our discoveries.
(It’s okay if that’s you.)
Many graduate students have trouble narrowing the focus of their dissertations. Numerous articles keep repeating the same thing -- Narrow your focus to succeed.
“A good research project must be narrowed down in order to be meaningful and manageable.” -- Grace Fleming, ThoughtCo
By narrowing the scope of our projects, we break the task of writing into smaller segments. We can then blaze through those with astonishing speed.
Soon, you’ll have a library of stories, even if you combine them into one massive anthology.
↪️ Do you want to write a family history book?
Grab your copy of this FREE Writing Guide:
How To Narrow Your Focus
Write about one person
Write about one event in their life
Write about a subset of that life if it spans many years
Publish small stories
In this video, I demonstrate how to narrow your scope if you were to write about Gif Nielson.
Side Note: In the late 1980s, my parents went to church with Gif. We watched him on KHOU tv as the main sportscaster. He’s not my relative, but I utilize his life as a case study on how to narrow your writing projects.
You have to narrow your scope if you want to successfully write your family history faster.
More Family History Writing Tips and Tricks
To explore YouTube channels to follow, check out some of our Video RoundUps for ideas.
Read More About #familyhistorywritingtips