One Question at a Time: Focused Reports are the Key

For weeks, which actually add up to months, I’ve been working on two complex musician-related research projects for my own personal enjoyment. And, endeavoring genealogist that I am, one of my goals has been to write professional-level narratives that summarize my findings–something I’ve never done before.

Right. Who-knows-how-many hours later, I have a lot of drafts with a few strong paragraphs here and there and a very keen awareness that I am absolutely no good at organizing evidence into proof. I’ve gathered the pieces to many puzzles but I have no idea how to fit them together into a large cohesive whole.

I have learned something important, though, as I’ve been trying to write. I need to take it one focused step if I’m going to successfully wrap my mind around the information I’m gathering and feel like I’m making steady productive progress.

For me this seems to mean

  1. Opening up a new document and typing one very specific question. “Was Frances born in New York?” “Which city directories include Henry between 1890 and 1900?” “Does Sarah appear in the 1900 census?”
  2. Identifying sources, creating citations, and pulling out relevant information.
  3. Writing up my findings in a carefully-crafted report to myself.
  4. Repeating repeatedly.

It’s certainly not a new idea but sometimes you have to be there in the moment to come to an understanding of just how important something is.

So, for now, I’m going to step back, use the framework above to organize the informaton I’ve gathered, and then pick up the writing projects again. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

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