Saving family stories is a passion for me – and I”m guessing since you’re reading this that it’s a passion for you too. But, your family story project may have gotten tripped up by one (or more) of these five challenges.
- You don’t have time
- It’s too overwhelming
- You don’t know where to begin
- You’re not comfortable with audio or video
- You don’t know what to do with the stories once you have them
Fortunately, I have a solution for all five. Read on.
Three family story ideas:
My Solutions for Getting Your Family Story Project Off the Ground
Problem: You don’t have time.
Solution: I totally get it. Life comes at all of us so fast that it feels like we can’t keep all the balls in the air, let alone taking on yet ‘one more thing’.
Here’s the deal, though. You’re not writing a book (at least not yet) and capturing a story can take five minutes or less. Read this post to see how I saved a story in just a few words.
What if every week you committed to saving one or two stories? Does that seem doable? I bet you can do it while watching TV. At the end of a month you’ll have 4-8 stories, at the end of a year, 52-104. It doesn’t have to be a race. Take your time and savor the knowledge that you’re doing something valuable that will span generations.
Problem: It’s too overwhelming
Solution: Sometimes a family story is as simple as adding a caption to a photograph; sometimes it’s a paragraph, and sometimes it’s a page or more.
I have never written a family history book, and I doubt that I ever will. It’s incredibly overwhelming if your mindset is about creating a book. At this point, all you’re doing is saving stories. One.At.A.Time. If it takes you a lifetime, so what? Our daily lives are filled with hundreds of tiny stories and you’ll never capture them all. So relax about it and just save the ones that pop into your mind.
Problem: You don’t know where to begin.
Solution: There is no logical beginning just as there is no logical end. If you’re wondering what story to save first, the answer is: the one that first pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be particularly meaningful or poignant or detailed. It can be something as simple as the one line my aunt added to her collection of family stories:
My dad used to buy gas at the station that was at 11th and Sycamore.
Yes, that’s it. Begin with whatever story occurs to you. Save it. Then save the next one and the next one and the next one.
Problem: You’re not comfortable with audio or video
Solution: You don’t have to be. If you want to record a family member’s story in either audio or video form, pull out your smartphone and record away! Your recording doesn’t have to be professionally produced. In fact the video I did of my mom is far from professional. But it’s real. And ‘real’ is what you want.
If you don’t want audio or video don’t worry about it. This is your project and you get to do it in whatever way makes you happy.
Problem: You don’t know what to do with the stories once you have them.
Solution: The sky’s the limit. Like my aunt, you can take your collection of stories down to the local copy shop, make copies for everyone and have the copy shop bind them. Or, use an online site like Lulu to have your digital files printed and bound like a ‘real’ book. Or, print the stories yourself, put them in a three-ring binder, then make copies for people as they ask for them.
Family Story Project Takeaway
- change your mindset from a book to a story
- don’t sweat the technical stuff
- commit to 5 minutes a day or a few times a week
- start with the first story that comes to mind
- share what you’ve done
Start today and save a single story. Then do it again tomorrow.