Congratulations on even considering the Full Harvest Start. It will NOT be the easiest way . . . we can tell you . . . but it's potentially the most satisfying.

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Life is the biggest subject there is . . . after all. So don't be intimidated by the scope of the project. And if you don't know EXACTLY how to approach it, don't feel like the Lone Ranger.

We recommend Planning – of course we do. But not necessarily right out of the gate (!) We always suggest that a few measured steps into the maze (with allegiance to No "Plan" at all) can often help to clarify your later perspectives.

That is, go with the flow . . . tell a story or two . . . and you may find that a comfortable "direction" may become increasingly more apparent to you. Maybe even faster than you thought.

Here's a quick way to "Start" . . . that will pay dividends no matter HOW you organize the result:

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Just make a list  – in chronological order – of everywhere you've ever lived. This could be the most PERFECT start of all . . . as it will immediately allow you to cover the territory . . . at least so far!

You can do it on a simple pad of paper. Look up the addresses LATER. But for now, just list – then in a very simple way, characterize the basic circumstance or purpose of each locale of your life. 

You may find that doing this first step alone . . . will bring back memories . . .

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Now take another step . . . expand your list out to the right . . . and represent the TIME you spent at each location. This will immediately suggest that the places you spent more than average time may need to get the lions' share of your storytelling attention

At this stage . . . and in the stages that follow, you're simply identifying the PARTS of your life (possibly by locale, but not necessarily by locale) – that are most important to your story. So have a look at the "Chapters" approach . . .

Be open to the possibility that subjects ALONE can stimulate your recall and your memories!

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Reading the 45 Chapter Headings alone (above) may prompt some memories . . . and they may help you to list some stories you can tell.

Both the Timeline (an Excel Spreadsheet) and the Chapters (which are in the Word) are aboard our "Lifebook" disk . . . (just $20 alone . . . or FREE with a project of almost any size)!

Herein the Chapters convey (in all) thousands of "prompts" – which are memory inspirations . . . tags & flags (. . . like . . . who was your best friend in grade school . . . and what were your Favorites of everything – from movies, music, and food . . . to your favorite vacation spots!

Things are "harbingers" . . .  that often serve to "prompt" other associated memories. They may "promptly" open whole floodgates . . . and seriously broaden your storytelling horizons.

But wait . . . there's more!

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Since it's YOUR life . . . you can organize your stories and "Chapters" any way you want - where you'll see that organizing strictly by "Life Locale" is just one option. Since your life is unlike the life of ANYone else – your style – and organization – can be totally unique. It doesn't need to conform to ANY of the above. It can (and should) be totally your own!

Feel free to make up your OWN organization of Subjects, Themes, and Chapters! 

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Ah, Taking Stock . . . what we really mean by this . . . is getting necessarily deeper into the weeds and woods . . . as you begin to identify physical "Resources" you'll use to tell your stories.

The "Inventory" – whether on a spreadsheet or on a pad of paper – is meant to list the Resources you have (usually starting with photographs or slides – but expanding later into many other things – that could be home movies, documents, and artifacts . . . even collections, hobbies and personal memorabilia). List them in order . . .  by the "Chapters, Subjects, or Themes"  you'll use them to support.

Nothing tells a story better than a "linking object" – that focuses attention and interest – while you tell your story around it and "through" it. Finding the preponderance of your "Inventories" may help you center on the chapters and "stories" that most need to be told.

Be open to the possibility that the simplest (and often the least valuable) personal artifacts can offer direct and profound "links" to some of your best stories!

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You might get lucky . . . if you find that earlier "Collections" have already been compiled!

Don't think of these as shortcuts (though shortcuts they may be). But someone (maybe you?) has already "organized" your photos & other inventories or collections (music, matchbooks, stamps, etc.) . . . in sometimes already meaningful ways.

Look around, as earlier Photo or Baby or Wedding Albums may already exist . . . with notes and captions, dates, names, and locations that will give you a significant head START! Maybe a cabinet holds your entire collection of Beatrix Potter or Hummel figurines! In which every one may already hold a story . . . that needs to be told in the richer context of your life!

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This is where the real fun starts . . . as everything up to now was for organization & "staging" . . . . while this section and the next are where the actual storytelling may be done.

Creatively, bravely, and purposefully . . . (with or without your Final Organizational Plans) . . . you step into what may be a familiar place. You've done a little of this before, in bits and pieces. It may not be totally foreign to you – as you may have pictured yourself doing this – but simply never got quite "launched." What MIGHT be a little new to you now are the real possibilities of creativity and productivity that these several, deeper looks have just made possible. 

Now it's a matter of using your planning – combing your inventories – identifying memorabilia & artifacts & photos & documents you'll use to tell your stories – and assigning priorities to a few.

Then we suggest that you go off by yourself for a while . . . with or without a computer assist. Sit alone (as this is all about YOU!) . . . amid a small collection of the artifacts you've prioritized . . . and simply let your ideas flow!

Your creativity here will shine! . . . and while this part may take some days (some weeks, or even some months) . . . you may find that your proceeds here may become the basis of your work.

The only consideration as important as what to SHOW & Tell will be what to VOICE & Tell!

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Your voice will surprise you when you hear it . . . as this is (finally) ALL about your voice – whether literally or figuratively . . . and it will be second nature to you when you experience it!

It's the idea of actually VOICING some of your stories. Because as you'll understand when you get to be in closer touch with your Harvest . . . one of the most ultimately personal & valuable assets from the experience will be in the (finding and) capturing of your Voice!

No one starts out thinking this . . . as their normal sense is that "No one wants to hear my voice."

Actually, the OPPOSITE is true!. Ask anybody – who's been through the process (or even better, who has been a recipient of the work) . . . as often the very greatest value of any production is in its VOICE proceeds. Hearing the Matriarch or Patriarch tell their stories is a boon and a blessing. Don't hesitate! As missing this value misses the real gem of the storytelling crown!

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Now let's talk overall "proceeds" . . . the Harvest of your Life in all of its possible forms.

The possibilities are literally endless. Doing a BOOK may NOT be a stretch. Think about it! And in doing a book, you might start, as many do, with a simple Paperback – or even a Hardbound! Branching later into the possibilities of E-Books and AudioBooks.

To us, as we've been cheerleading the process for so long . . . a "Full Harvest" approach often leads naturally to DIGITAL as well as ANALOG storytelling. It wasn't a possibility in most days gone by.

Enter the idea of "Tandem Publishing." In the old days – the book was always "it." It was the final culmination of all the work. So it actually WAS the "work." Because almost all of the central resources (photos, etc.) were ANALOG. To be published on (physical) pages.

But now . . . in the E-age . . . we have the ability to incorporate VOICE, MUSIC, and SONG . . . not to mention MOVIES, animations, web references, and iPhone CLIPS . . . elements a physical book could never convey! So you may find that by the time it's over . . . you'll actually have more content on a tandem WEBSITE than in the book itself. And you can add to it more easily!

Which is why a real HARVEST (fact or fiction - in almost any form) often includes a WEBSITE – (available 24/7/365 – anywhere in the world) to carry significant DIGITAL & AUDIO components.

It won't take long for you to see the values of doing a BOOK and a WEBSITE . . . in Tandem!