Devon Noel Lee
The Biggest Reason You Haven't Written Your Family History Book
Over the past decade, I have interacted with thousands of genealogists. About a third of them talk about writing a family history. And yet, have you seen thousands of family histories flood your local genealogical library or clamor for space in your genealogical society newsletter?
Why have few genealogists turned their dream into reality?
Perhaps they are lying to themselves.
Numerous blogs post articles about reasons why people have not written their books yet. Here are a few:
Why You Haven't Written Your Book Yet (And 5 Ways to Change That)
While the ideas included in these posts, and others like them, are full of valid reasons since they do not target family historians, there is one explanation the writers do not have on these lists.
It's the number one lie genealogists say that keeps them from writing a family history.
"I'll Write A Book After I Finish Researching"
Is genealogy research ever really done?
In my mind, I hear a family historian modified version of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" in my mind:
There's always gonna be another question
I'm always gonna wanna look in to
Always gonna be an unsearched resource
Sometimes I'm gonna be confused
Ain't about how soon I finish
Ain't about what's waiting for me to find
It's the climb
Genealogy research isn't a sprint or a marathon; it can be a lifelong hobby and pursuit.
And if that is the case, we need to stop telling ourselves when we get to the 'other side' of our climb, and we'll finally write our family histories.
Instead, perhaps we should make writing a part of the journey.
The Fallacy of Completeness
The Board for Certification of Genealogists says we should strive to "to collect all information potentially relevant to the questions they investigate."
In the above blog post, you may think you will never reach the goal of reasonably exhaustive searches.
You may never resolve point 6.
Some conflicts require divine intervention to resolve.
Are we to wait for the Second Coming of Christ before we can write a family history?
You may constantly worry about point 7.
New evidence can overturn conclusions at any point. Just ask people who discover their family tree has an unexpected paternal deviation from what records revealed.
Should we be afraid to write because we might be incorrect?
If we wait to write and publish a family history until we account for all ancestors or descendants, with thoroughly documented life events, our family history books will never exist.
The worst part of not writing your history is your relative will miss out on connecting to their heritage.
↪️ Do you want to write a family history book?
Grab your copy of this FREE Writing Guide:
Fight The Lie A Small Change
Instead of saying,
"I'll Write A Book After I Finish Researching."
Tell yourself and put into practice the following motto:
"I'll Write A Book WHILE I am Researching."
This simple change will move you closer to your dream of writing a family history.
Because when you finally decide you have enough stories to make a book, you will have most of your draft written. You won't be starting from square one on the book project. You have to organize and revise your stories for final publication.
I challenge you to stop lying and start incorporating writing as a synergistic part of genealogy research.
I can promise you that you will find it easier to write your stories, but this will dramatically impact your skills as a researcher.
I discovered this after writing the first drafts for 120 ancestor stories. When I retire, I'll quickly transform those drafts into books and fill my shelves with my family legacy. But in the meantime, I have become a more thoughtful and thorough researcher.
More Family History Writing Motivation
What's the point of writing a family history if nobody will read it?