From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, March 14, 2011

Genealogy and Journals for Inspiration

So, this might be kind of a cheesy idea, but have you ever done research into your own family history for story ideas? This can be extremely difficult in some cases, but with all the new internet resources these days its getting a bit easier. And some are lucky enough to have journals from great-grandparents and such. In fact, if you are one of those lucky ones, those journals could be an invaluable resource.

Ask whoever is available to you, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, if they have journals or stories they would be willing to share. Get a recorder and let them talk. You never know what gems you will find. Stories from their own lives or stories they've heard from other ancestors could be fantastic character/story fodder.

And like I said, the internet is a fantastic resource. Sites like and have incredible compilations of information. Take advantage of it. You don't even have to spend much time doing it, but it could be very worthwhile just to see what you can find.

The stories you find can be used in a lot of ways, too. You can use them directly or use the conflicts and place them in a modern setting. You can even use your own journal for inspiration, which is one reason I recommend keeping a journal.

I feel a bit hypocritical here, just because I definitely am not great at keeping my own advice in this regard, but I hope to do better and I do think it can be helpful. So happy writing and happy hunting :)

Sarah Allen


  1. Great idea, Sarah! I always ask my students to collect family stories in some way and there are always gems out there. I love that!

  2. Cool idea Ms. Sarah!!

    I always looked for stories among my friends!! Not family!! Most friends are of my age group, very similar in thoughts so I couldn't get cool stories from them by asking!!

    I gotta check them out, observe patterns and such to develop story!! but I think, this idea about family may work!! they are all from different backgrounds!! cool!!

    thanks a lot,

  3. Thanks for the feedback :) I hope you guys find some wonderful things. I expect you will.


  4. It's amazing how many stories, and story ideas, are all around us. As close as our own home. Even photographs alone, like the one you posted, inspire the muse to find the story to go with it.

  5. I loved the photo you used in this blog post. It inspires a story on the spot!

  6. This is a very fun way of learning interesting stories. My dad just sent me a picture last week he'd just gotten ahold of that was of our family from the late 1800s who came over from Germany. Looking at the picture makes me want to write stories about them! And when it's your own family, there's more interest due to the personal connection.

  7. This is a fabulous idea! Our personal histories link us to the past in such a rich way and provide plenty of fodder for the creatively inclined. :-)

    NBC is currently running "Who Do You Think You Are?" which follows celebrities as they dig up their family tree. It's a fun watch on Hulu if you don't have cable.

    (By the way, Sarah, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment earlier!)


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