Family History ACT

The Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc.


Why Write Your Family History?

writing hand

Clare McGuiness, convenor of the Writers SIG

We family historians are very privileged. Through our interest, curiosity and even obsession, we rediscover the stories of the people who made us.  But should our discoveries die with us? 

Of course not.  Somehow, in some ways, we need to find ways to tell their stories.  And that is what writing your family history is all about.  Many people feel daunted by the enormity of the task, many do not know where to start, they are perhaps waiting for inspiration.  Authors of "How to write" books consistently offer some simple suggestions: Write anything at all; write often; write regularly. 

Writing frequently will improve your writing, no matter what your level of writing skill.  Which addresses a fear many people hold, that they are not 'good at writing'. You probably were not good at researching your ancestors at first either. 

You can write about your research, what you learn and what eludes you.  Writing will help clarify your thoughts, will identify the holes in understanding your data, and by presenting new juxtapositions of facts can suddenly illuminate a whole new interpretation.  This kind of writing helps your researching.  Please do not leave writing to the 'end', for so many reasons.

There are often key moments in our ancestor's lives that are more exciting or interesting than your average TV drama.  Or we may be drawn to a longer time frame, decades and centuries, and recurring stories known only to us.  We have found these recurring stories through our research.

The key to writing family history is to start anywhere.  Practise putting words together about any person, or any incident.  Skills will grow.  Eventually you will find what you REALLY want to write about.  The Writers Special Interest Group is for anyone wanting support to write or to talk about the process of writing.  In October we will run a 3-session course on Writing Family History.  It will cover different types of writing and publishing and link you to a mentor to review your work. 

Oh finally, writing can be a joyful creative process.