How to Start Writing: the Word File

For most of us, we’ve already gathered some information and records before we decide that we want to write. Once we make that decision, though, the amount of data, paper, and electronic images in front of us can be overwhelming. Where do we start with this?

The first thing to do is to decide exactly what you want to produce. If you haven’t decided yet, go back to last month’s article, “How to Start Writing: the Overall Plan,” to help you plan and make those decisions. Knowing what your final goal is makes the roadmap easier to develop.

Once you know what you want to produce, it’s time to open a Word file and start. At least that’s what I open. You might use a different program, and that’s more than fine. In any case, you have a blank, electronic page in front of you. Now what? I generally begin in one of two ways: abstracting or transcribing a particular record or drafting a “genealogical summary.” I won’t even think about writing a narrative for quite some time.

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