Last January 2018 I decided to try an experiment: from the birthday list generated by my RootsMagic program, I would make a list of ancestors and blog about one person per week for 52 weeks. I knew that I would have trouble following the schedule and topics outlined in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. My job as well as various commitments would have derailed me if I had not been able to write the blogs ahead of time and schedule them to publish each week. But the weekly inspiration from those who were following Amy were really helpful and when I could I tagged my blog with her topic.
What I learned
- It is really hard to write 52 fully researched, carefully prepared, fully documented and illustrated essays. But that’s not the point of the exercise, so please keep reading.
- The birthday theme only goes so far. Some weeks I just gave up on finding the perfect match and just picked someone I thought interesting.
- My writing got boring. I found myself writing every post in chronological order: born, married, died, buried.
- I really resented having to stop researching and just start writing. I found myself saying “just one more source” way too often. When this happened I had to remind myself that this was not “the end.” I could always come back if I found more.
- Some ancestors just aren’t that interesting. “Lives of quiet desperation” aside, quite a few of my female ancestors, especially, just left me very little to work with.
- You really can write 300-700 words quite easily if you just start writing.
- You can have really interesting conversations with family members around what you got right and wrong (in their opinion) and learn new tidbits of information as you go.
What I want to do in 2019
- 52 weeks of family photographs. I am going to try to post a picture of a family member, group or dwelling place, write a short post identifying what I know and what I don’t.
- I am also going to try to go back to all the folks I passed by on my birthday list. This may not result in long essays but I really enjoyed giving a voice to these people, and I want to continue writing.