Getting Personal: How To Write Family History For Your Kids In 2013 (part 4)

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Here are three more tips on how to write family history for your kids:

4. Stick To A Schedule. Every Saturday or Sunday morning, I logged an entry in my journals. Same time, same place, day in and day out. It keep the commitment doable, and so I easily found the time and energy needed. That’s what worked for me. Disclaimer: Do your stuff any time the mood strikes you. The overarching idea here is to get it done. After all, your kids are waiting for your news.

5. Keep It Spontaneous. I know: this tip contradicts tip # 2 (Plan It Out). Let me explain: I planned my journals precisely so I could then be spontaneous. If you start with a general direction to take, you no longer need to worry about the course to follow. So I went with pretty much whatever I felt the impulse to say. I changed nothing, crossed out nothing, added nothing after the fact – no second-guessing, everything done on the first take. Robin Williams once described peak experiences in standup comedy as going “full-tilt bozo.”

6. Briefer Is Better. Most of my journal entries ran about 400 words (this post clocks in at 320). I’ve often favored writing that’s more suggestive than expansive – writing that’s understated, implicit, allusive, elliptical. It seems to me sometimes more dramatic to leave something between the lines – to say what you have to say without always coming right out and saying it. Let the facts speak for themselves. Facts tend to be eloquent. Let those facts accrue, telling your story for you, the less explanation, the better. The trick is to leave out whatever you can leave out without actually appearing to have left anything out. Kids, like adults, know how to fill in the blanks. Disclaimer: Ramble from one non sequitur to the next without any prayer of coherence for all I care. I just work here.

P.S. – Part 5 will appear tomorrow.

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