Take the Challenge

The Family History Writing Challenge

28 Days of Motivation, Education and Tools  

A 28-Day Commitment to Writing Your Family History
Feb 1st - Feb 28th 

Why should I sign up? 
Because you have a passion to turn those dry documents into exciting stories about your ancestors.  You've procrastinated too long and it's time to take up the challenge. Stop procrastinating; finally commit pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Assemble those family facts into a format someone will want to read. 

Have you been writing sporadically never finishing a story?  
Have you procrastinated writing your stories for too long? 
Do you need that nudge to finish your stories and finially publish?  

The challenge will help you create some good consistent writing habits with support from industry professionals. Stop starting and stalling, stop procrastinating, make 2013 the year you meet head on your family history writing goals.  

Whom Do I Write About? 
A single ancestor, a surname, a branch of your tree, you pick. 
You select the ancestor or ancestors, the timeframe, just keep in mind who you feel most prepared to write about in terms of research and interest, and who are you most motivated to write about. You can write your stories in the form of family history blog posts, a family history memoir, narrative stories for a legacy book or as a personal journal. 

How Much Do I Need to Write? 
You pick the amount 250, 500, 1000 words a day whatever you can work into your schedule. Do the math. 
250 words x 28 days = 7000 words, you would be well on your way! 
500 words x 28 days = 14,000 words, this would be an incredible start! 
1000 words x 28 days = 28,000 words, you would be a hero! 

Where Do I Write? 
Write on your computer, ipad, typewriter, longhand (tough to do word count). Write in your office, at the kitchen table, the local coffee shop, the lawn chair (if your someplace sunny- lucky you), or beside a roaring fire (that would be me). 

What If It’s Not Good Enough? 
This exercise is not about quality. Very few of us can sit down and shoot out a masterpiece on the first draft. Newsbreak..... most of us take a half dozen passes at it before it is worthy of anyone else’s eyes. This is about making a start, it's about creating a habit. There will be plenty of time to edit your masterpiece later, committing to the daily word count is a huge step to making it happen. Besides we have some published authors, editors and professional instructors on board to help you along the way. 

When Does it Begin? 
The Family History Writing Challenge begins Feb 1st and ends February 28th. I am asking you to commit 28 days to writing your family history, in the hopes that you will get a running start and you will never look back. You'll create daily writing habits that I hope will stay with you long after the challenge is over. 

Where Do I Sign Up? 
Right herewww.familyhistorywritingchallenge.com, leave your pledge in comments or link to your own blog post, no goal is official until you have written it down and shared it. Once you verbalize, you become more committed. If you prefer to keep it to yourself that's ok too. I realize some of you are shy, writers by nature are introverts, we appreciate that here. You don't need to share your writing unless you want to. You can sit quietly back and take all the information in, but of course if you participate we will be thrilled. 

Be sure to sign up for the Family History Writing Challenge daily email. Each day you’ll receive a motivational message from me, along with a few tips, informative posts and some great instructional posts from our guest authors. By signing for the daily reminders you’ll be sure not to miss a thing, in fact you'll have it long before everyone else. Those on the email list have special privileges including some tangible tools that will only be available to those who have signed up for the challenge. 

Why a Public Challenge?
Because there's nothing like publicly announcing your intentions with a deadline to motivate. One of primary reasons so many never start or finish their goals is lack of accountability. 

Secondly a public challenge brings the family history writers community together. We can share our wealth of knowledge to help elevate everyone in their journey. If you really want to share and get opinions you can get verbal and ask for specific help by joining the forum. I'll be checking in daily and some of our guest authors will also be stopping by. 

If you signed up last year and plan on participating again no need to sign up for the email again, you're already in and watch for our first email starting next week. But hey give a shout out in the comments just to make sure you've been heard. 

What is stopping you from starting your writing? Let me know, and I will try to help you overcome those obstacles. Meanwhile, you have the next 3 weeks to get yourself organized to start writing. There will be some early emails to help you get organized and started. Don't miss out on those. 

If your still not convinced, here's a few of past year's participants who share their thoughts on the challenge. 

"If you've ever thought that you might like to write your family history into a book, but didn't know where to begin...or if you've begun, but need some more assistance from a support group...then The Family History Writing Challenge is where you need to be in February! You will find expert guidance and support from our leader, Lynn Palermo (aka The Armchair Genealogist) and her guest bloggers, as well as a cheering section at the Forum. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and sign up for a great adventure in family history writing! Even if you don't finish the whole book in 28 days (I didn't), you'll get a great start and meet some really swell people along the way!"

Debra Newton-Carter

"Lynn, you did an amazing job of leading this challenge, encouraging and motivating so many people to take on the sometimes daunting task of figuring out how to take those first steps toward writing. I've really been impressed with the organization and diligence it took to put together those daily reminders and mini lessons. I have no doubt many have come out of February into March feeling that writing a family history is within their reach. I read several hundred pages of recently discovered diaries and incorporated parts of their content into several thousand words and got several chapters written or re-written. Thanks so much for your hard work and unfailing enthusiasm for everyone."
Linda Gartz
Family Archaeologist 

"Hi Lynn, I'm very excited about this last month and the progress I have made with my writing.  I have learned so many things that I had never heard of nor had any idea about, that has helped me.  Thanks, Thanks, Thanks,  I plan to keep on writing and letting people know about your blog. I don't want Feburary to end. Thanks again."


And Read Del's letter  on his journey through the challenge. 

Write your family history in 28 days, are you ready to take the challenge?


  1. I'm pledging 250 words per day and am writing about my Leisure family line. This is a project I've already started but hope the challenge will motivate me to move it along.

  2. I am going to pledge 500 words per day and hope that I will have finished one of my required reports for my BCG Certification Portfolio at the end of the 28 days.

    If I can pull this off, then I truly think I can get the remainder of the portfolio completed and ready to submit before the end of the year! Thanks Lynn!

  3. I'm in! I'll pledge 250 words per day and will be writing about my husband's Italian family. I've been wanting to create a document for the family that's more interesting than just the family tree. This challenge is perfect timing. Thanks for the push and the help!

  4. I am going to pledge to write 250 words a day and see how I do. The challenge is a great idea. I will be writing on the Bagley family of Throop, Lackawanna County, PA.

  5. I accept the challenge! IT WILL BE A GREAT START TO MY FAMILY hISTORY NARRATIVE getting ready to share with my family at our reunion this summer!

  6. I'm taking the challenge. I'm going to try to do 500 words per day. I will use my blog, where I already write about family history at http://arborfamiliae.wordpress.com

    Thanks for inviting us to the challenge!

  7. I am pledging 250 words per day with the focus on my Haskins family line. This is something I wanted to do last year but just didn't. Hopefully all of this support will lead me to a sense of success.

  8. I'm in!
    I pledge a minimum of 250 words.
    It will be in the form of a conversation with my South Carolina Ancestors who I know little about.

  9. I plan to write 250 words about my Richardson family from Lancaster County SC.

  10. I'm pledging...I'm afraid...but I am going to do it. And I am going to pledge 250 words about ME and my Howard line. Thanks for the push.

  11. I'm signing on for 250 words on a biography of my great grandfather, Elwin Rockwell, who lived in Michigan.

  12. My kids have been at me to do just this and I've been dragging my feet for, oh, 20 years or so...so I'll jump in for 250.

    One thing I'd be glad to see is some idea/s about how to handle a lot of negative information. One reason I keep waiting is that I don't want to record some of our history until certain persons can no longer react, but it appears they might outlive me. I feel like leaving it all out is dishonest (in the extreme, in this case, because much of it explains some later disasters) but don't really know how to record a lot of it without sounding whiny or vindictive. In real life some of us moved a few thousand miles away but that's no help here....

  13. I would like to sign up and pledge 250 Words A day...Why NOT!!! Yay!! Gonna do it!!

  14. I will pledge 250 words a day. Maybe more some days. I need to get our family story written soon. I have been told since 1st grade that anything I wrote was a waste of paper.

  15. Just now reading Dr. Bill Smith's Springfield Examiner where he pointed me to your great writing challenge. I will pledge the minimum of 250 words a day on my Charles Harrison Richards ancestor. I have a lot written about him on my blog and on my laptop but need to but it together in story form for our Richards' reunion in June. Thanks for this push.

  16. I'm excited to see this challenge. I'm working on my Grandmother's story and will attempt 500 words each day. Thanks for the support!

  17. Yesterday I began this challenge by writing how I came to researching my Smith family. Though over the forty-something years I've seriously devoted to family research and the many stories I have written, there is no cohesive thread to any of it. I began yesterday. Thanks for the motivation!

  18. Starting a few days late, but I pledge 250 words per day on my Weddle line.

  19. I am in! Averaging 250 words a day, which is 250 words more than I had been writing, so it is a great start!

  20. I am going to do 250 words a day and I can play catch up.
    I am going to write on the HUFFMAN/HOFFMAN family of my Mom's.
    This is an addition to what I had set for family by Christmas. With this I will surely complete my goal.

  21. I just heard about this challenge, but I've been writing my family history every day this month, so maybe I'm not behind.