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My Family Wants Me to Tell My Stories. Help!

March 06, 2024

Reading time: 3 minutes 

Feeling pressured to tell your life stories?

Has a loved one given you a questionnaire about your life that feels like another to-do?

Are you receiving tips on how to to “express yourself” or make your stories “entertaining," "thoughtful," or "compelling" and don’t really know where to begin?

(Are you the one creating the pressure?! Keep reading. Today's article is also for you!)

The Story Burden: What Is It?

Maybe you're not a great writer, maybe you don't want to commit the time, or maybe you don't think you have good stories to tell. But "they" are asking you to write your stories anyway and maybe even throwing money at it via well-intentioned gifts to encourage you. That is what we call the "story burden."

We know the pressure comes from a heartfelt place. Our friends and family may think we and our stories are worth preserving and sharing. And the storytelling industry wants to help us structure our stories to capture people’s attention in an increasingly distracted world.

At the same time, these story pressures can snowball and become a giant turnoff. The well-intentioned tips, classes, and frameworks may backfire and prevent us from making progress. And progress, not perfection, is what matters, just as much as what “they” want. Right?

Name Your Own Story Goal

You can't get there, if you don't know where you're going. What is your goal in recording your stories in one way or another? Perhaps your goal looks like one of these:

      • Private, diary-like reflections that maybe you'll share one day with a chosen few
      • Recording bits of your personal and family history to share your knowledge with your loved ones
      • Capturing moments and memories that made you and others smile before the details slip away. Could make up the pieces to a great memoir one day!

No matter your goal, consider the strategies we've gathered below to see if any will help you make progress without that burden stories can create.

 
Time-Tested Story Capture Strategies

STORY PROMPT BOOKS AND CHECKLISTS

Lacking inspiration, a jumping off point? Download a free checklist of interview questions. A great question source is the independent non-profit StoryCorps (check out the podcast, too) and it's free collection of life story questions aross 17 categories. Or you could purchase a story prompt book like this one to work through at your pace. These resources will avoid set schedules and fixed costs so you don't have to worry if you fall out of sync with their pace or wonder if you're getting good value for your money. It's a free or a one-time fee!

If you're motivated by, let's say, a treat now and then, you could even eat your way to stories. Our co-founder Ellen loves good old-fashion soft caramels and was shocked how game her family was to answer the questions wrapped around each of these caramels during the holidays. Talk about low pressure! 

SUBSCRIPTION STORY SERVICES

Need more motivation? Subscription services like Storyworth can send you regular prompts and by answering them in a timely fashion, by yearend, you’ll have enough fodder to complete and purchase your responses in a book format. For additional fees, you can even add color photos, additional pages, and special covers.

SUPPORT FROM A PRO!

Not happening without human intervention? Hire a life story pro to interview you and write your story. Whether a short 30-minute session to scratch the surface or a full life story multi-month endeavor, you can find an option to fit your goals and budget and remove the pressure from you to pull it all together. There are an abundance of companies that will do this and range greatly in price from $150/hour to a few thousand for a limited scope to $10k-15k and more for multi-month in-person biographies of the highest quality.

Bite-Sized Stories with Artifcts 

We heard a lot about the story burden as we began the research for what became Artifcts. We knew we had to do better and create something innovative that would avoid the story pressure while integrating the best of the tried and tested techniques of story telling AND sharing.

What's remarkable about every Artifct you create is the simple choice as to WHAT you Artifct already speaks volumes. The "story" becomes a bonus, a bonus that can be one simple word—e.g. Dad’s—or a 5,000+ word story.

Colorful floral pattern on dark background tea tin

At Artifcts, you can proceed at your own pace. You won't lose the value of the book you never completed if you don't finish by the end of the year. An Artifct a day, Tuesday evenings with Artifcts, weekend pick me up, seasonal themes, or work your way through one of our amazing checklists inspired by the Arti Community ... whatever works. for. you! No deadline, no quota to meet. 

What's remarkable about every Artifct you create is the simple choice as to WHAT you Artifct already speaks volumes.

We love that Artifcts are also easily shareable to someone who may be assisting you with family history research, writing a memoir, or creating a family videography, saving you countless hours searching for, sharing, and annotating the materials when you’re ready to take that next step. We have great Allies in ‘Stuff’ who can support you and have many more in our “rolodex” if memoirs and personal or family videographies and genealogies are on your mind. Reach out. We’re happy to help: Editor@Artifcts.com

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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What's New at Artifcts
Have Passport. Willing to Travel.

Reading time: 4 minutes 
 
With summer travel on our minds, we had some fun recently looking up basic US passport facts available from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, which is the issuing authority for U.S. passports:

      • There are approximately 160 million active US passports, including US territories. There’s some double counting in there for those with a passport book and card, but you get a sense of scale when we have a total population of roughly 340 million.
      • A state-by-state look at new passports issued as a percentage of each state’s population (est. July 2023) really got our attention. Top of the pile: Washington D.C., New Jersey, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and New York. States with the most subdued interest in new passports: West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Kentucky.
      • Despite all the changes that COVID brought to travel, valid dates for those passports remain unchanged. A child’s passport is still good for 5 years, an adult’s for 10. Makes sense, too. Children under 16 years of age surely change a lot more, on average, than we adults do. And, let’s face it, this probably makes many adults happy if they prefer a younger them in their official passport photo.

Why do we care about passports at Artifcts? Clearly we’re not alone based on the numbers! And talking about the first trip you took on a new passport is a lot more fun than talking about the weather or the latest highway construction project! How old were you? Where did you go? HOW did it go? Scratch that, ask about a first or most recent trip on any passport. Think how different you and your life were 10 years ago and what was guiding you to pick one travel destination over another. 
 
Your passport stamps and visas can unlock so many memories and stories. 
 
Our co-founder Ellen got her first passport to study abroad in Sweden during her junior year of undergraduate studies. Contrast that to her most recent passport which she first used to travel to Israel to speak on a conference panel about technology innovation and human legacy.  
 
In contrast, our other co-founder, Heather, got her first passport to travel to France to study abroad her sophomore year in high school. Her most recent passport stamp? Well, she’s currently mid-trip in the Bahamas, accompanying her husband on his work trip and wrangling brownouts and bugs as she works remote. Oh the stories (and the Artifcts)!

Artifct That Passport!

We have a robust “How to Artifct {fill in the blank}” series that we’ve published over the years. We highly recommend putting it to the test as you Artifct.  
 
Today we’re expanding that series with our best tips to preserve your passports and the memories they hold. Why would you Artifct your passport? To remember and re-live and share all those great and not-so-great travel memories—come on, who has had PERFECT travel and no horror stories to share?  
 
Artifcting passports also makes it easy to pull up trip details to repeat those travels down the road or share with a friend who plans to travel to the same destination. No losing that information in Google Docs, email, or hardcopy only.  
 
See, Artifcts are both everything you can wish for in capturing your stories and memories and incredibly practical, too! 
 
Here's your recipe for Artifcting passports: 
 
1. Start each Artifct with a photo of a stamp and/or visa in your passport. It gets you the location and the date in one go!

2. Add videos and photo:

      • Picture of you in the country.  
      • Video you took out exploring.  
      • Photos of mementos you bought or collected (art, ceramics, t-shirts, pins and spoons, shells and rocks…).
      • Framed picture on your wall from a trip.

3. Don’t forget to add “Documentation” to your Artifct:

      • Travel itinerary (flights, hotels, reservations, museums etc.)
      • Original photo file in case you want to reprint it in the future
      • Receipts, certificates of authenticity, and/or appraisals for any valuable travel mementos you purchase and may need to insure, add to your will, or re-sell one day

4. Now add the story. Use 5 words or 5,000, it’s up to you. No story burden here. And you can choose to add the story in writing or by using voice-to-text or directly recording in the Artifcts app. 
 
 
Want the easy-bake recipe instead?  
 
If what you really want is to tell your favorite stories from the places you’ve been or simply keep track, you can create an Artifct featuring photos of pages of stamps (instead of a single stamp at a time). Then in the Artifct “Description or story,” list out the locations pictured in the stamps and the stories for each. Done!

passport open to show stamps and a visa

 
 
Each stamp has a story. Bonus! The dates make it simple to ensure your Artifct shows up in the right place in your timeline.

Connecting & Sharing Your Artifcted Travel Stories and Mementos

If you’re ready to step beyond the passport only, remember these great Artifcts features and services can help you along the way.

QR CODES

For most travel mementos, you can print or use an Artifcts QR code sticker to link the item, whether the expired passport itself or a ceramic vase you bought in a shop in Italy, with the Artifct. Now anyone who comes across it can scan to get the story.

An Artifcts QR code sticker on a music box from Switzerland

 
 
It's easy to link your Artifct to a QR code sticker - scan and up pops the story!

 
USE @ IN THE ARTIFCT STORY

You can also inter-link your Artifcted stories by typing @ into the story of an Artifct and choosing another related Artifct. That way, all your Italy stories can link together!

 
 
The story in this Artifct includes @ links to people and other Artifcts! Click the image to view the Artifct.

PUBLISH A CUSTOM BOOK WITH US

You may also want to share your stories in a good old fashion book. We know, books can take a lot of work to upload all the photos, lay them out, pick the fonts, fit the text, and so on. Not at Artifcts! Enjoy the memories, we can help with the rest.  
 
Simply purchase a book with our partner Akin, select all the Artifcts you want to publish to a book, and click share to privately send the Artifcts to Akin to layout in your book. You’ll receive a proof before the books are ordered and arrive on yours or a loved one’s doorstep. We have tips to enhance your Artifcts for publication available here, too.

An Artifct published in a book with its story and a QR code to access all the other photos and videos

 
 
Once you create your Artifcts, select any to create a custom book with our partner Akin.

We hope you're inspired to get Artifcting those travel moments hidden within your passport. Happy July to you all!

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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MassChallenge Invites Artifcts Into Early-Stage Accelerator

We interrupt your normal Wednesday ARTIcles story to offer you greetings from Boston, Massachusetts. The Artifcts co-founders flew to Boston yesterday to take part in a multi-day launch of the MassChallenge Early-Stage Accelerator program, one of the world’s top accelerator programs. What’s that? Read on!

As a self-funded, patented startup poised to become a household name—because, let’s face it, who doesn’t have stuff or stories—the team at Artifcts wants to ensure that we’re delivering to you not just the best product to capture the stories, history, and value of all you collect, accumulate, and inherit in life, but that we do so always with an eye toward the best in tech, the best in how we operate (lean!), and more.

MassChallenge is a global network for innovators working to solve massive challenges. MassChallenge connects startups, experts, corporations, and communities to grow and transform businesses and does not take any equity from companies who participate. According to Mass Challenge, the early-stage accelerator has facilitated a remarkable $9B+ in funding for its cohorts.

Of the 1,300+ companies to apply, Artifcts was selected along with approximately 120 others to work together over the next 3 months with industry mentors and partners to challenge how we operate, means to improve, and of course how to grow. While you won’t see any immediate change at Artifcts as we work through the program, we hope that we’ll come out stronger than ever and with new ideas for how to better connect with you and help you to enjoy all that Artifcts offers.

Opening session of MassChallenge, Boston, July 9

 
 
Andrew Bialecki, CEO & Founder of Klaviyo, shares his startup journey during the opening event.

In the meantime, please, continue to Artifct. Share Artifcts with friends and family. We may not have the marketing budget of a goliath corporation, but we have amazing community members who want to see Artifcts succeed. We’re so grateful. And, if you have ideas of what you’d like to see next at Artifcts, or even suggestions for what we could do to make your experience better, let us know! We love and take feedback from our ARTI community to heart.

Wish us luck as we roll up our sleeves and dive into the MassChallenge world!

###

Curious about what else we've been up to?

Explore some of Artifcts' other "As featured in" and awards through the years.

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Read more
Preserving Your Best Travel Memories

As co-founders, Ellen and I are always meeting interesting people at Artifcts. We were very fortunate to be introduced this spring to Rainer Jenss, founder of the Family Travel Association, former senior executive with National Geographic, and an avid traveler. We loved talking with Rainer so much that we invited him to be our first guest author at ARTIcles. Read on to learn more about his story and experience using Artifcts to remember his 2022 travels in Africa.

_____________________

My wife Carol and I recently returned from a vacation we took to Africa with 25 other people, most of whom we’d never met before, but all who had some kind of connection to the tour’s organizers, Henry and Claire Kartagener. In my case, I’ve worked in the travel industry with Henry Kartagener for years. He’s also been directly responsible for getting Carol and me to Southern Africa several times already, including our first visit back in 1992 that took us on a safari during which we actually ended up getting engaged. Thirty years later, we found ourselves returning yet again, but this time as part of a “Friends of Henry” contingent, some of whom had been to the continent before, many of whom had not.

As I’ve noticed on other trips we’ve been on as part of a group, conversations between people often turn to sharing travel stories. Some just recount something that happened that day, while others recall experiences from previous adventures. It’s as though the act of sharing travel memories with others somehow reinforces their meaning – and all the while, hopefully inspiring those who are listening.

It’s as though the act of sharing travel memories with others somehow reinforces their meaning...

I can relate. For me personally the tales from my life’s adventures traversing the planet and displaying some of the things I picked up along the way represent some of my favorite memories and what I’m most fond of in my life. I think we all probably feel that way in some way no matter how much of the world we’ve traveled. Either way, this idea only strengthens my conviction that traveling is one of the most important things we can do in our lives.

...Travelling is one of the most important things we can do in our lives.

Taking it a step further, if I were asked to recall what our conversations were about, I’d say they usually revolved around the things most of us do while traveling, which include (in no particular order): visiting new places, trying new things, meeting new people, buying souvenirs, and of course, sharing pictures. In fact, it would be pretty easy to argue that thanks to the advances in cellphone technology, capturing and sharing the highlights of our journeys through pictures, whether they be bucket list vacations or just weekend getaways, seems to be the most common activity we almost all now seem to engage in.

 

Victoria falls at sunriseVictoria Falls at sunrise. Click the image to view the Artifct.

But while putting our best-looking pictures on social media has become such an integral part of what we do while traveling, we usually do so without telling the broader stories behind the images we post. Sure, the photos themselves may look great and often make those we share them with envious. But on their own, they rarely capture why the person took it or what it means to them personally.

 

The king protea, national flower of South AfricaThe national flora of South Africa is the King Protea, symbolizing diversity, change and courage. Click the image to view the Artifct.

After recently having discovered Artifcts, I’ve found that it’s now possible to not only preserve and organize the special moments from my travels, I can now do so by also documenting the stories behind them. The very same stories I just might share with fellow travelers somewhere down the road.

Which brings us to what happened when I returned home after spending more than two weeks in Africa with 25 of my new best friends. As usual, I had 100s of images to sort through and edit. But this time, I did so with a different purpose and perspective. Sure, I still tried to pick out the ones that were the most visually compelling. But this time I made sure to set aside some photos of things I usually wouldn’t display in an album or share on social media. Instead, I paid special attention to the photos and videos of those things that best told the story of our trip. Best of all, I used the Artifcts I created to produce a virtual album I shared with those I spent my vacation with. For the purpose of this story, I’ve also made it available to the public in hopes it might inspire others to give it a try. Just go to my Artifcts page to check it out.

Happy Trails . . . and Happy Artifcting!

- Rainer Jenss

###

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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