Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This One’s For You, Sheri

Not all genealogists are writers—and not all writers are genealogists—but all genealogy bloggers need to write at least fairly regularly.

I enjoyed stumbling upon The Educated Genealogist, a blog by Sheri Fenley. Though Sheri and I actually live in the same town, I’ve never met her (incredibly, considering I managed to find her "pin" in the midst of the worldwide web haystack). I can’t remember how I stumbled upon her blog, but I’m glad I did. Though she doesn’t know me, Sheri is the one who steered me to Geneabloggers through her article a month ago, which led me to be introduced to that community of writers this past weekend.

Sheri combines family research and fun in her writing. She’s the one who posted about the great pie-making generator. And I appreciate her motto, borrowed from William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” Just looking through her post archives gives you an idea of what a spark of life is resident in her inspirations.

Last Friday, Sheri complained about writer’s block. Oh, I don’t know…it could all be in fun. Regardless, there is something ominous about that dreaded syndrome, even when we are joking about it.

Just so happens, same day she mentioned that, I ran across a couple great posts in a non-genealogy blog I frequent. Written (and occasionally hosted) by Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Intentional Leadership is a six-times-weekly blog that, not surprisingly, provides timely writing tips. Last Friday must have been one of those times.

On that same writer’s-block Friday, Mr. Hyatt hosted a guest post by Martyn Chamberlin of Two Hour Blogger. The article toys with the notion of productivity and comes to the conclusion that “productivity is overrated.” How’s that for salve for a writer’s soul?

The other post was also a guest article by Jeff Henderson, pastor of a cutting-edge church and ministry in Georgia. Now, pastors are known more for their public speaking than for their written material, but they do need to know how to produce that writing, nonetheless. This pastor came up with a technique which he calls “The Ten Minute Storm,” a way to grab those fleeing ideas and tackle them to the ground, er, paper. He found a way to hone your message, but the technique also frees you up to Just Do It: Write.

Sometimes, less is more. Writer’s block may not be seen as a gift, but perhaps that is what it actually is. When I get stuck writing, I go do something I love. Instead of writing about genealogy, I do genealogy! A refreshing break can be what the brain is crying for. Trade your productivity woes in for some writer’s WD-40. You’ll know what to use. After a well-applied spritz of that liquid magic, I’m able to unstick and come back to write about it.


  1. Writer's block?? That is my constant friend. :-)
    I usually start with research then get sidetracked into creating posts based on where I was or my finds. I love doing both.

  2. Jacqui Dahling! You live in Stockton? I thought I was the only person in the world doomed to live here forever! Please email me


    we absolutely must get together!


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