Over the years, I’ve attended many online webinars and classes on how to market and grow my business. One word of advice that was consistent in building a successful brand and reputation was to write a book. While I balked at the thought initially, over time I came to realize that I was more and more in favor of the idea.
I mean, how hard could it really be? Teaching photo organizing already came so naturally to me, I figured all I had to do was take my ideas and put them down on paper. In June of 2016, I took out my calendar and blocked out 2 hours a day, for three months. I picked Starbucks as the place I’d go to write in - that’s what all the serious writers do! - and I was so sure I’d have the book completed by September 2016. I had a clear goal in mind and I was determined to meet it.
Well, about 12 months into the process, I started lovingly referring to my pet project as “that damn book” to all of my family and friends. Too often, I found myself completely stuck when I sat down to write. Starbucks, while delicious, offered me no inspiration. It became altogether too easy to cancel my scheduled writing sessions.
How in the world was I supposed to break down a process that came so naturally to me into manageable steps for others? What if I made a mistake or recommended an obsolete product? What about printed photos, digital photos, PC vs MAC, home movies, children’s artwork, letters, slides, and negatives? There were so many variables, so many options, that it became more intimidating than joyful.
In the spring of 2017, came an unexpected revelation. I had the privilege of hearing James Wallman, author of Stuffocation: Memories Live Longer Than Things, say, “Experiences lead to stories, which lead to connections, which lead to relationships, which lead to happiness.”
Just like that, I knew what had been missing from my carefully crafted writing process - I had forgotten the WHY of my book. It all seemed so clear to me now! I rewrote his sentence in my notebook, to keep me grounded and clear-headed as I continued on my journey to complete my book. “We photograph our experiences, which tell a story, which leads to connection, which leads to relationships, which leads to happiness”.
From there, I set out to find real life stories of people who had organized their photos and, most importantly, to find their “Why”. I interviewed a photo organizer who created a life legacy book for a family that had lost a son in 9/11; another family used photos to connect with their father while he was dying. Everyone’s “Why” shared one important factor - we take photos to tell the stories of our lives. In essence, I realized that I was crafting a story that would help others tell their own stories through photos. What an incredible, inspirational revelation!
After finding my own personal “Why”, the writing became easier - and the purpose and drive behind my motivation to create this book became that much clearer. I was able to share and translate my process with a simplicity that I had never known before, all because of that incredible “Why”.
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the things we need most in the world.” — Phillip Pullman
After eighteen months, Photo Organizing Made Easy; Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed is now published and available. If you need help discovering your own “Why” behind the organization of your photos, get yourself a copy and settle into that comfy chair at Starbucks for a good read.