That’s right. You don’t need to have all the rules memorized. Yes, there are times when you must read perfect instructions and rules before any action is taken in order to follow the well-laid out proper steps in the quest of a solution to a problem.
In contrast, there are times where it might be better to just jump in blindly– with more than a little guts - with your heart clutched in your hands, and figure it out all on your own. That’s right. Sometimes you gotta think outside the box for the answer.
I know this sounds kind of odd coming from the author of a “How-To Genealogy Blog for Newbies,” but I’m just trying to be honest.
Don’t be afraid to just search. To put aside all the rule books. To relegate all those well-meaning internet articles and blog posts to the “Read Later” status. And just search. With all your heart and your mind.
And you didn’t need a manual for that, right? [Of course, if you had let the Bunny Tracks melt all over the floor, perhaps you could’ve found your keys faster. But, then, in that case, maybe you wouldn’t have had your keys in your hands because the phone rang as you walked in the door with the first load, and when you answered the phone you put your keys down there.]
And then you think, “If I had only known then what I know now about finding my car keys, I wouldn’t be constantly looking for my keys. In fact, if I had had this article to read and commit to memory, I SO wouldn’t have made so many mistakes along the way. So many mishaps. I could’ve done everything so perfectly. And, alas, been perfect.
I disagree with this. Sometimes. Especially when it comes to genealogy. When doing research, sometimes the method that you use in finding your answers to your solutions aren’t found in a how-to manual. Sometimes they’re found just because you figured it out on your own. [Yes. I’m likening lost car keys to lost ancestors.] When they are lost, you are determined to find them. You don’t give up. You rack your brain for where they might be. You trust yourself. You trust your abilities and your knowledge that you’ve acquired along life’s highway to find them. And you probably learn some new lessons along the way.
And I daresay they are, sometimes, the most memorable lessons. The ones you won’t forget. And, sometimes, they leave you a little more satisfied. A little more, oh, I dunno, richer, for figuring it all out on your own. [You know, more than $10 in change, some gum, and some cool pens richer?]
Sure. Reading the how-to’s, rules, and other people’s lessons will help you and are necessary in long-term success in your research journey.
But don’t let them make you think can’t begin to look just because you haven't memorized all the how-to's. You don’t have to be perfect to start.