Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Getting Started

For some of us, it is difficult to fill that stark white paper. Although you could just start writing or brainstorming ideas for your story, there are a few preparations that will help you reach your goal. You could make these decisions at a later time, but by making your choices now, the entire writing process can be much easier.

Before You Begin Your Project...

1. Establish your goals (purpose) and determine your audience.

The basic goal or purpose in writing your family stories and childhood memories is to record them for your family’s future generations. This can be done in various ways and many ideas are found in Chapter 8 of this booklet. Although you may be completing a booklet for your grandchildren, niece or nephew, your main audience should be those future generations who will only know you through your writing. Remember, whatever you write, make it as clear as possible to your reader, but do not worry about quality over quantity. Your descendants will love to have your misspelled papers rather than nothing.

2. Be committed to your project.

All of us have years of history behind us, and this means, of course, a lot to record for those descendants. In order to complete the task, it will be important that you have a commitment to writing often. Naturally, you will never “finish” your story as you create it daily, but by using a Timeline (This will be explained in a later post), you will have provided a great “outline” of your life as you continue to write individual memories.

Remember that from time to time your commitment may have to be renewed. Being in a writing class does help you to accomplish that as well as bring you to a higher level of commitment.

3. Provide time to write.

In order to strengthen that commitment, you do have to spend time writing on a weekly basis—ideally on a daily basis. Find a few hours to yourself and write whatever story comes to mind or work on your class topic. At the least, write weekly.

Plan your work time. How much time should you allow to write each chapter? If you have a deadline or one you have set for yourself (I have to get this finished before the family reunion!), you can readily determine how much time you need to allocate for the book. Do not forget to allow time for the pre-story (Introduction) and post-story (Conclusion and Appendices) sections of your book.

4. Be flexible in altering your goals as needed.

From time to time we get side-tracked. Life’s other commitments do get in the way. However, just be aware that you may have to alter your original goal of writing a 200 page book and opt for a CD. Or perhaps you will not be able to re-write all your work to perfection. Over time you may become interested in doing genealogical research on your family and incorporating those records as well as writing biographies of your ancestors and other family members.

5. Develop some type of organization.

The earlier you establish some sort of organization, the better, but do not make it an obstacle to keep you from writing. Whether you choose to use a computer or file folders, organize your writing chronologically until you have decided upon a particular format for the finished product. It will be easier to locate time related material if you decide to organize your final booklet, CD, etc. by topics or date ranges. Remember to back up your computer and to print copies of your work for safe keeping.

If you are not using a computer, you can write in a journal type booklet or on notebook paper and organize these into file folders in time related groups such as: “Childhood Years, up to age 12”; “Teen years, ages 13-19”; “Early Adulthood,” etc. It would still be wise to share your stories with a family member as you write so there will be a copy outside your home in the case of disaster. Family members also may help proofread, assist in clarifying the writing, and give praise for the wonderful asset you are giving the family.

Next we will cover Organization in the early stages of writing.

©Aulicino, 2 Sept 2008

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