In Praise of Small Beginnings

You’ve heard some people say, “Go big or go home”. Many other times I’ve watched the opposite thought arc like a shot across the bow of a project, acting as an impetus to action. There’s a verse in the Bible that says, ““Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin….” (Zech. 4:10a NLT). I love the concept of small beginnings! They’re full of potential, they are the “starter“ if you’re a baker, the seed if you’re a farmer, the empty canvas for an artist, the tiny embryo if you’re longing for a child, the single journal entry if you’re a family historian or that idea jotted down on a napkin for songwriters, scientists, and writers.

Before you can celebrate a milestone you just need to start!

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated

day-in and day-out.” ~Robert Collier

You have everything you need to begin, whether you’re blessed with loads of family mementos and archived photos, or you’re beginning with your own memories.

Start with one small thing, a memory, journal entry, letter, recipe, photograph. What is that that just grabs your imagination by the shoulders and demands, “Tell me more!”? Take a macro look at it, write a thorough, sensory filled description of that object close up. Ask it questions? I know this sounds a little weird, but trust me, it’s just a method for helping your brain to unlock different ways to see that thing with new eyes.

This object is your starting block, it will propel you, just like a relay racer, down the track to the next prompt, the next memory, the next clue. Before you know it you’ll be gathering the pieces and noting how they fit together to drive your story.

I have a news alert set to anything family history or memoir related. It is astounding to see the variety of ways this topic can be addressed and the common interest worldwide in understanding ourselves and our families, remembering and sharing what makes us tick with the future. Connecting with the generations that came before and those that will come after is a human drive, it’s how we learn.

In case you missed seeing this free offer on our FaceBook page, let me give you the link here. I’ve been hard at work creatively bringing a few of my best tools and helps together in one place.  This amazing package will give you the resources you need to share your life legacy with those you love. Just click this link to get your FREE gifts today: 

https://offer.rememberingthetime.net

Remembering the Time is all about helping you and your family save the unique stories and memories that make you who you are.  Reach out and take that small step of starting your story, you have nothing to lose and great things to gain by this small beginning.

Karen

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Small Steps to a Finished Memoir

I truly hope you are having a great day!

This past weekend I took a road trip with my grown children to a family celebration In New Orleans. You may have seen a couple photos I posted to the Remembering the Time FaceBook or Instagram pages. It had been ages since any of us had traveled and we stocked up on road trip food, a crossword puzzle book and a new audio book. We had fun, shared driving, and ate enough bright orange Cheezits to pave a parking lot. Because, well that’s what you do on a road trip.

We also celebrated life and learned more about each other through a fun ice breaker app on the phone. Trust me, this is a great way to connect even with people you’ve known their entire lives! “Really, I didn’t know that!” was repeated often.

Each mile we drove, each special event we participated in with cousins, aunts, uncles, and in laws once we arrived was a small step to building a stronger family. We laughed, we cried, we ate and toasted to life together and remembered our family history.

I am a firm believer in taking small steps to build progress toward a goal. It’s one of the best ways to chunk down a big one. Making incremental progress toward your goal is encouraging, these steps keep you moving as you see progress and help keep you from becoming discouraged.

This is not only an excellent life lesson, it works fantastically for family history and memoir projects too. The beautiful old staircase photo in this post, taken in New Orleans reminds me of the importance of taking small steps.

For example, if you are looking to curate, organize, and  make sense of a collection of family mementos, letters, and photos so that others can enjoy them too, you need to do more than just stare at the boxes in frozen overwhelm and frustration.

*Think in categories as you look at your collection

*Begin by choosing 5 examples of each category just to get you started and move past the inertia

This is where a set of outside eyes, skilled in separating the gems from the “stuff” can help you make real progress with your story. I can help with that and get you on track! Want to tackle it yourself first? Here’s a couple easy step choices you can make to get started:

*Try my Quick Start a Memoir class for free on Skillshare. Here’s the link: https://skl.sh/2YUDbkf

Take 30 minutes to watch the class, then do the fun project to help you cut through the fluff and organize your story. Questions? Send me a message and we’ll chat about it.

*Give me a call for a free consultation to inspire and motivate you with ideas and action steps to write your family history or memoir.

Maybe, just maybe, you need to stop thinking about this and take a small action step. I want to encourage you, doing this will build momentum and be one of the most satisfying things you can do to seize the day with your story.

Taking incremental action-steps to tell your story will make sure that it is shared with those you love, not relegated to a dusty box stuffed in the garage. Don’t let that happen to you!

You can bless and serve your family well by taking these small steps. No one ever regretted sharing the wisdom they’ve learned and their precious life memories with their family.

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Top 5 Free Classes to Help You Write Your Memoir

Occasionally I curate a few excellent resources that I’ve found helpful and highly recommend. If you’re serious about sharing your memoir or family history here’s my top pick of short classes that will give you the necessary tools, confidence, and encouragement to begin telling your unique story. Each of these can help you make amazing progress writing your memoir or family history.  Two of these classes are specifically about writing memoir. The others contain tools and ideas that will help you craft memorable stories, a key element in any writing.  

Best part – you can listen to all of these free for 2 weeks. Take mad notes, listen again, dream big, and take action. Here’s how it works: try all of these premium classes for free for 14 days via Skillshare. If you decide you’re loving the great value this teaching platform provides, you can join for a low annual fee that will pay itself back in value many times over. While you’re trying out the platform explore a few other topics from their extensive offering of over 27,000 premium classes and more than 2,000 free classes. (as of March 2019)

For example, the technique of taking an event from your life and flipping it into a fiction story will give you an entirely new slant on the events. Excellent teacher Adam Janos will walk you through how it’s done with examples that are sure to get your own creative thoughts flowing.

Author Roxanne Gay will show you how to create short memoirs, also known as personal essays. These can stand alone or be part of a larger work but you’ll learn from a pro about what will resonate and how to write it.

Rebecca Livermore will walk your through an encouraging and very doable writing challenge that you can use over and over again to boost your writing sessions. Try her 7 day challenge in conjunction with one of the other classes and just see what kind of progress you can make. I think you’ll be thrilled!

Ready for the nuts and bolts of how to start writing your memoir? Best-selling memoirist Kathy Karr shares “the processes she relies on to write beautiful, visceral scenes.”

How about a jump start on your memoir writing? My own class on how to Quick Start a Memoir will give you a fun, creatively practical project and easy directions to help you begin .

  1. Autobiographical Fiction: Write a Short Story from Personal Experience, by writer/reporter Adam Janos

Adam will teach you to brainstorm ideas from your life, transform yourself into a character, and write details. You’ll learn about conflict and pacing with excellent examples. This class can help memoir writers think beyond their ideas for standard memoir and expand their storytelling skills. Click this link to try the class: https://skl.sh/3ss2WY8

2. Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact, by Roxanne Gay

Roxanne’s course is full of “practical guidance, actionable tactics, and example essays” She’ll lead you through the important step of “finding a specific purpose for telling your story”, then how to “connect your work to a larger theme”, and inspire you with how to use your “personal memories to write your story.” Click this link to take Roxanne’s class:  https://skl.sh/3rhQ9X2

3. 7 Day 15 Minute Writing Challenge by Rebecca Livermore

Developing a daily writing habit, for even just a few minutes at a time, will set you up for success in completing your story. This short challenge can launch you into storytelling productivity with 7 daily writing prompts, help in “setting personalized writing goals”, and tips and tools for writing quickly in short time chunks with minimal distractions. Click here to enjoy Rebecca’s class: https://skl.sh/2QwebRg

4. Writing the Truth, How to Start Writing Your Memoir, Mary Karr

Through a series of memory-focused writing exercises, Mary guides you through a clear, actionable plan to help you write your memoir. She “shares her wisdom and perspective on life, writing as a craft….” Mary’s class will help you develop your personal writing voice and hone your storytelling skills to connect with readers. Don’t miss this class, click here to jump right in: https://skl.sh/3cniCq3

5. It’s Time to Tell Your Story: Quick Start a Memoir, Karen Ray

Yup, this one is mine and I’ve seen these tips, tools, and techniques work wonders! You don’t have to be a “writer” to share your story in a meaningful way. This class will jump start your memoir or family history project, helping you clarify the 5 W’s of your story, the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY. You’ll create a foundational framework to build your personal history project  and have fun in the process. This can even stand alone as a mini-memoir. Click here to make fast progress with your memoir or family history: https://skl.sh/2YUDbkf

Start today — Celebrate your life and begin saving those important family memories!

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How to be a Family History Clutter Cutter

family history, memoir writing

A friend posted this statement today in a memoir writing discussion thread:  “Tomorrow is too late, live today” Then she asked, “Would you agree?” Wow! I can’t stop thinking about this, it’s such an interesting thought and question.

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!

So many people become stuck in the mire of perfection. Someday, when “x” happens, if this is settled, then I’ll…. We’ve all talked this way. But then…decades go by and you’ve missed out on precious time and memories.

While of course it’s wise to plan and implement for today, tomorrow, and the future, there are opportunities and decisions that must be acted on in the moment. Over analyzing can keep us stuck. That said, it is never too late to take the next right step! As for me, I thrive on balanced living in all three time zones, past, present, and future (I do work with memoir, after all). This one life is a priceless gift and I don’t want to waste a minute of it. So today is simple, sweet, and designed to get you future authors and family historians un-stuck.

Here’s one big Seize the Day tip, it’s like a NEON YELLOW easy button, that can help you move forward with writing your memoir or family history:

#1:  REPURPOSE things you’ve already created to get a jumpstart on your memoir content. Can you really do this? Sure thing –  letters, recipes, journal entries, newspaper clippings, even descriptions of gifts you’ve made can form the foundation for a new chapter. You can include them as is, expound on the material, or use them as memory prompts. Create a themed collection if you like and make a simple photo book.

Photo book companies send out frequent discounts and can be an easy way to share the story of your keepsakes. Think beyond just photos, you can add story text, recipes, use your imagination. Try Shutterfly, Blurb, Mixbook, Snapfish, Picaboo to name just a few…search for the sales codes.

Now is the ideal time to begin thinking about a simple project to create as a gift for upcoming holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. Books like these gain instant heirloom status and are the secret sauce in memorable gift-giving.

By sharing the story behind family history keepsakes everyone benefits. No one gains if they stay shoved in a box. It is not the item that is of value but the memories behind it. Are you getting the most mileage from these materials you can? Do a little digging and help your family gain a rich understanding of  their background and history. You’ll have fun in the process.

Bonus tip: Bet you thought of at least a couple items in your family history collection that you can do this with. Now, go and IMMEDIATELY APPLY these ideas to your treasures while the thought is fresh. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write out everything that comes to mind. Organize it later!

Need help? Feel free to contact me anytime and we’ll brainstorm some options. I’d love to hear from you!

Karen

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If You Give a Wild Thing a Taco

I’ve made a discovery! Many people interested in writing their memoirs also have wonderful children’s stories they’ve shared with their kids over the years. They talk about these with a grin, a gleam in their eyes and laughter as they recall the fun of creating these special stories for their children. They confess that their kids have always told them they should make a book with those favorite tales. My family and I have our own collection of made-up stories but I’ll save those for another day.

To learn more about the art and process of children’s book creation, I’ve been watching a few of Lisa Michael’s Skillshare classes. Michaels is an award winning professional freelance illustrator and author as well as a skilled teacher. You can take a look at her profile here:

 www.skillshare.com/r/profile/Lisa-Michaels/4511946

After sharing my observations about memoir clients and their children’s stories with Lisa she responded with additional insight into the “why” of this phenomenon. You can find out more about her at Lisa Michaels  www.theartofpicturebooks.com. She graciously agreed to share her thoughts so here you go:

It makes complete sense. A large percentage of children’s books are based on the author’s childhood experiences. You know the old saying…”Write what you know!”…it’s so true.

As I’m sure you know, personal experience adds authenticity to the work, and gives a good writer the ability to make you (the reader) feel that you are a participant in the story, rather than an onlooker. Not to mention, most memories have strong emotions attached to them, which also enriches the story.

I find that stories written from childhood memories (even if they are outlandishly embellished) make for the best children’s books because the author usually isn’t looking to “teach a lesson”. They are simply hoping to share a wonderful or touching experience that they believe still has value for today’s kids. That’s one of the very BEST reason to write a children’s book!

Below are links you can follow to Lisa’s classes on Skillshare. They’ll enable you to learn from her and many others for two free months with a trial Premium Membership. You have nothing to lose and much great professional, fun guidance in store. I highly recommend it! (disclosure – although I will receive a small commission if you sign up, I only recommend classes I’ve taken myself and found exceptionally useful).

Writing a Picture Book/Part One – Creating Characters Kids Love

Writing a Picture Book/Part Two – Gathering Story ideas

Writing a Picture Book/Part Three – Building Blocks

These courses are excellent resources in developing further ideas for my own children’s book concepts as well as helpful when I visit with clients who have their own fun, fabulous tales to share.

Try your hand at jotting down some of your kids’ favorite bed-time stories. Then, visit with them about the characters and sketch out a few ideas for the artwork. You’ll have loads of fun together and create new memories from the old ones.

May you find joy in life today!

Karen

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Contact Me

Please contact me for more information or to to schedule a free consultation. I look forward to visiting with you.






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    Karen Ray

    Address: 2877 Willow Creek Lane, Las Cruces, NM, 88007

    Phone: 575-323-1048


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