17 February 2014

Writing Challenge: Goal Beat! Was it too easy?

Family History Writing Challenge
I had decided to participate in the Family History Writing Challenge this month and set the goal to write 4,000 words. I'm happy to say, by February 10th, I had beat that goal. Before I discuss whether this goal was too small or not, I wanted to recap what I did.

I am writing a genealogical narrative. Essentially I'm turning the names, dates, and places, into a written format. I'm using the facts found on my Ancestry.com account timeline for an individual, plus the Timeline feature for an individual in my RootsMagic 6 database. The Ancestry.com account has sourced facts that I haven 't downloaded to RootsMagic (because it doesn't syng easy, ugh) but RootsMagic can show me timeline events of relatives (death of father, birth of sibling, etc).

In viewing these two life tools, I can see what happened in what year for a specific individual and in the narrowed family dynamics. This has enabled me to see, how old someone was when their sister was born. I've seen where there was a year of happy events, or tragedy. I can  quickly see how old someone was when their siblings died. And I can track their lives (thanks to City Directories) to see changes in locations and occupations. In short, these facts can help me turn...

Annie M Geiszler was born on 28 Oct 1888 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. She died of spasms on 5 Nov 1888 at the age of 0 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. She was buried in Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.
into

Almost two years after the death of the unnamed Geiszler son, Henry, 29, and Maggie, 28, had another child. Anna Margaretha Geiszler was born on 28 Oct 1888 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.i She was named in honor of Magdalena's sister Anna Margaretha Hoppe, aged 19, and the sister's mother Anna Margaretha Kalsberger, aged 64. It's interesting that Maggie would carry on the maternal name rather than her sister. However, Annie didn't marry until the following year and she died shortly thereafter. It's not likely that Maggie and Annie knew that this would happen. It's possible that Maggie did want to honor her sister and mother and Annie thought she wouldn't use the name if she had the opportunity to have a child.  
Tragedy struck the Geiszler and Hoppe women as baby Annie died of spasms on 5 Nov 1888 barley a week later. The death occurred  Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.37 She was also buried in an unmarked grave in the Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio on Annie M (Kalsberger) Hoppe's plot.



So... here's the run down of what I worked on and when:


2/1    789 words for William Joseph Geiszler
2/2     676 words for Infant Geiszler, Annie M Geiszler, and William Talbot Peak (part 1)
2/3    1239 words for William T Peak (part 2)
2/5    1030 words for Evaline Townley (part 1)

I took a break to watch RootsTech, so no writing for me!

2/10    766 words for Evaline Townley (part 2)

GOAL beat : 4500 words (positive 500 words)

Today, I started working on another relative named William R Peak, the son of William T Peak and Evaline Townley. What I'm finding is that some of saved sources are great on Ancestry.com, but I should have put notes in the description field in order to track the residence and job information quickly. So, I've had to slow down on the writing in order to improve the quality of my note taking. So today, I've had the lowest word count, only 568 words.

Since I've beaten my goal, I'm not to upset with my low word count. I could lament my disorganization or lack of preparing for my project. However, that wasn't the purpose of my participation in the writing challenge. I didn't sign up for this challenge to write a bazillion words and look like a writing champion. Instead, I was using this writing challenge to establish a habit. Writing in the morning before the kids get up. I knew RootsTech would take time out. And as the month wears on, other things will interfer. But, if I can establish a habit of writing, then I will have achieved the purpose of the challenge for me.

Quick note, I did NOT feel like writing this morning. I woke up even earlier than normal but I did not want to write. I wanted to surf the internet and veg. But, the call for the habit beckoned, and I wrote. So, anything more than zero words today is a success.

Just to remind everyone, my year long goal is to write the narrative of what I've researched. In so doing, I'm going to come across research that I have done but did not do due diligence with. It could be missing or incomplete source citations. It could be saved records that I haven't created notes or follow-up steps to (like the things D Joshua Taylor spoke of in his RootsTech presentation.. that 2 hours or follow-up after an internet research).

Today, I was fighting with myself because I felt like I was wasting time 'fixing' my research notes rather than writing William's story. However, I realized halfway through the process that I didn't need to fight. By achieving my goal early, I can focus on the habits I wanted to build thanks to the writing challenge rather than word count. When that realization struck, I relaxed and fixed my resource notes.

So... my goal for the remainder of the writing challenge is to read the inspiring articles provided by Lynn Palmero and other guest writers. I probably won't participate in the forum much (sorry, I won't get any writing/research note fixing done if I do). Ultimately, I will write everyday that the schedule reasonable allows and strive to turn the names, dates, and places into a reader friendly format. If I find research notes or source things that need to be fixed, I'll take the time to fix them as I go. It will improve the quality of my biographical sketches, and will save me time later.

Now I'm off to make smiley face pancakes for the kids because I'm hungry and I like a smile to brighten my day. Happy Writing!

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