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Writing Organizations for the Family Historian

As genealogists we all the know the many positive reasons for belonging to a genealogical association. However, have you considered also joining a writing association. For many positive reasons, writing organizations can benefit a family historian.

This week, Tuesday to be exact was the start of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. This organization brings writers together to encourage them to meet their writing goals by dedicating the month of November to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Many writers have aspirations to write a book but never find the time or make it a priority to reach the goal. This organization comes together once a year, to help you achieve this goal.

However, you don’t have to wait until the month of November to become part of a writing organization.
If you want to write your family history consider joining a writing association. Regardless of your goal, whether it is to write your family history for just a handful of family members, or for the world, if you wish to write a family narrative, a fiction novel based on your family history, or a non-fiction novel on how to research your family history, or even if your writing is for your family history blog you can benefit from a writing organization.

A membership in a professional writing organization can help you improve your writing skills and advance your career.

National writers' organizations often hold annual meetings. These meetings are often an opportunity to meet editors and network with other writers. Seminars, courses often are offered to members as a result of becoming part of a writing membership. In addition to the chance to meet editors and network with other writers, these meetings offer seminars and short courses that can help you improve your craft and marketing skills.

Joining an organization brings writers together in a community. Ultimately the goal is to learn from your fellow group members. Great conversations and learning can result around discussions about marketing ideas, referrals, jobs, story ideas and critique groups. Ongoing education is also a key component, as well as the opportunities to learn from other writers. A member can learn in the form of seminars, webinars and courses. Many of these organizations are accessible online, bringing the community and learning to your living room. Many websites offer learning courses, teleseminars, monthly newsletter, events, workshops and conferences that combine both a online and in person format.

Professional writers' organizations range from local writing groups to national and international organizations. Some have open membership, while others require members to meet certain credentials for acceptance. There are general organizations for freelance journalists, to novelists and to very specific organizations including family history and memoir writers.

As a family historian, there are number of organizations that you may want to consider to advance your writing skills.

International Society of Family History Writers and Editors -ISFHWE's primary goal is to encourage excellence in writing and editorial standards in genealogical publishing. This embraces all media, including newspapers, magazines, newsletters, professional journals, books (including compiled family histories), online columns, society and personal Web sites, Web logs (blogs), and broadcast journalism of all sorts”

National Association of Memoir WritersWe gather to connect, learn, and become inspired about writing true stories based on real life. Our goal is to help memoir writers feel empowered with purpose and energy to begin and develop their stories into a publishable memoir, whether in essay form, a book, a family legacy, or to create a blog.”

International Association of Journal Writing - “We're here to help you write, write in your own voice, and write more deeply. We'll help you stick with your journal writing. Once you are a member you'll find that you are learning ways to keep your journal writing fresh and your momentum high.  In short, we'll help you juice up your journaling!”

Association of Personal Historians - “We believe everyone has a story to tell and that every story matters. Our mission is to preserve those stories for posterity, and we hope you’ll join us.”

Consider checking out the above writing organizations as a source to help develop your writing skills and become part of a motivating community that will inspire and encourage your goals. 

Are you a member of any of the above organizations? How do you benefit?


Linda Gartz said...

Thanks for this excellent list of writing organizations. I'd like to mention that many communities also have local writing groups where writers can learn more about the craft, publishing and just network with other aspiring (and published) writers. In the Chicago area, I belong to the country's oldest writing group: Off Campus Writers' Workshop (OCWW);
We meet Thursdays in Glencoe,dues are a mere $30/year, and we have wonderful speakers and the possibility to get work critiqued.

Lynn Palermo said...

Absolutely Linda, local writing groups are very important, online organizations are nice, but face-to-face time with other writers is priceless.

Debra Newton-Carter said...

Lynn, Thank you so much for this informative post, and for the links. They offer the bridge to exactly what I am hoping to do with my research. I have a dual BA in English/Creative Writing and Psychology and use these skills in my family history research. While I long for the ability to meet with other writers as when I was a student, I look forward to a time when one day I will have that freedom again. For now I'll keep working my day job, and continue to research, write & make contacts with fellow writers.

Kathy Reed said...

I see that Linda Gartz posted -- and I so love reading what she writes. Here is my dilemma. I like to write. I've now had three articles published in Ohio Genealogy magazines. I've got my own blog and started one for our genealogical society. I am truly afraid that if I took the next step and joined one of these organizations that I would write less instead of more. I'm afraid that I would start analyzing my work to the point that I would be afraid to write and "put it out there." One of the things that attracted me to blogging was my belief that I could share things about my family history with other members of my family without the additional burden of citations, "perfect" writing, etc. I tend to believe that anything I get down in writing for my family is better than not sharing stories because my writing doesn't measure up. Have you had anyone else express those fears?

Lynn Palermo said...

I think with any new adventure comes the fear of not meeting someone else's expectation or even your own. However, any organization whether that is a genealogical society, a writing organization or say a sports club, should be there to embrace all of its members, to encourage and teach. But please don't let them intimate you. If they don't meet this criteria then find a new one. There are no rules when it comes to writing. However the more knowledge you have of the writing process, how to develop your creativity, the more comfortable you are going to become. With a few articles under your belt and now a blog, you are well on your way. Just keep pushing yourself. There are many forms your family history writing can take, explore the various avenues and choose the one that fits your goals. Your very fear is what holds most people back from exploring the writing world further, it's breaking through those fears where you will find your greatest success. But above all keep writing regardless of who your audience may be. Keep me posted on your journey Kathy.