Memory Keeping When You Might Not Feel Motivated

Aaron and I had a chat recently about lulls in creativity. As a musician he was mentioning that he's currently finding himself lacking motivation to create new songs. I commiserated, because this is a true and valid feeling for everyone, and then told him what I have learned after years and years of embarking on creative adventures: 

It always comes back. Always.  

He laughed and shrugged and I said, "No, really, it comes back."

My suggestion to him, which is what I generally do when I find myself lacking creative motivation, is to do some of the other tasks on his list that are related to his creative pursuits. 

No one is creative all the time. No one is "in the groove" all the time. There are waves and seasons and reasons. Embrace that time and use it to your advantage by tackling tasks that are related to your creative endeavor or hobby. 

For memory keepers doing something else (outside of working on a project) might include: 

  • ORGANIZING PHOTOS: I open up my photo management program and delete photos that are duplicates or generally update my organizational structure. This generally motivates me because I "see" new stories as I go through my photos and I often find myself grabbing my Story Planner and jotting down notes for when I'm ready to actually tell the stories. Sometimes I even print out enlargements at that time using my Epson SureColor P400 printer or my Canon MG7720 printer so that the photos will be ready when I'm feeling creative. 
  • PURGING PRODUCTS OR CLEANING OFF YOUR WORK SPACE: Going through the products I have on hand and donating the ones that don't inspire me any longer motivates me as I remember cool things I've collected that I'd forgotten about and this task also usually sparks stories as I go through the products. Be careful with this one as organizing your products can end up being one of those tasks that starts to be the only thing you do related to memory keeping. Ask yourself what's your reason why for wanting to tell stories and work on getting back to that core value. 
  • TELLING STORIES VIA ANOTHER AVENUE UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO BRING IT ALL TOGETHER: Don't forget that Instagram is a great memory keeping tool for holding stories until you have the time/energy/motivation to put them into a project. You can also adopt my philosophy of "starting with story" and literally just write out some of the stories that you might want to later incorporate into a layout or other project. If privacy is a concern you can always have keep a private account just for holding your stories. 
  • PRINTING PHOTOS: As you might remember, I often print my photos for Project Life® in batches. I sit at my computer with my album in front of me and print as many weeks as I can and slip into the pockets right then (this process will look a little different for 2019 - more on that later this month). Printing a bunch of photos at once that are going directly into my album allows me to be working on a piece of the overall process even if I'm not really into the creative part of finishing up the week at a certain time (this also works great if you are crunched for time - it's actually amazing what can be done in 10-15 minute chunks of time). 
  • REVIEW PAST PROJECTS: I'm editing this post and adding this in because I think it's definitely worth including in this list. I know for me, looking back through my past projects is a great way to remember my reason why. I see the photos and I read the words and I remember the value that comes from personal storytelling. So worth it. 

These tips are also great suggestions for coming back into the habit of memory keeping. The hope is that by participating in these kinds of supporting activities you'll eventually get motivated to get back to putting the projects/layouts/etc together. If you don't find yourself motivated, don't despair. You might want to take some time to look at your entire process and see which piece is actually frustrating you the most and brainstorm ways to adjust that in order to bring back the fun and the love of the overall process. 

Remember that memory keeping, like many things we undertake, is a practice. It's a practice of paying attention, of capturing stories from the past and the present, of taking photos, of listening to your life, and of doing the work by bringing it all together into something you can hold in your hands. 

Or just take a complete break. 

There are also defintiely times when I just take a break from it all and do something else entirely that I enjoy. For me that often includes reading, working in my yard, taking a shower or bath, getting together with friends - essentially inhabiting my life. Those kinds of complete breaks are essential for our creative spirits as it offers us an opportunity to think about other things. It's often when thinking about completely different subjects when ideas may pop to mind and all of a sudden you'll find yourself excited about memory keeping again. 

You've got this. 

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28 thoughts

  1. shawnaz says…
    01/22/2019

    Thank you for this post as it's currently something I need to hear. I am trying to "get back into the game" of memory keeping as it's presently hard to find time. Your suggestions certainly make me feel as though I can be productive in other ways. Would you consider a post sometime of how you organize and store photo on your computer? Thank you!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      01/22/2019

      Hi! I have an online workshop called Lens Of Joy that goes over my photo organization and workflow. You can check it out here: https://www.aliedwards.com/shop/classes/lens-of-joy-self-paced

  2. Eminepala1 says…
    01/22/2019

    You are so right. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
    Definitely a post to come back to. (Maybe an idea to create a section somewhere on your website with these awesome tips we all struggle with)... When we struggle we can always click on that for inspiration and motivation? Maybe in a video, a motivational or inspirational video to come and listen to when we feel overwhelmed or don't feel the creative juices flowing)... You are not only a memory keeper, you are also a motivational speaker and writer. It would definitely help a lot of people, with your experience. Just an idea. Thank you for sharing.

    And hope yesterday Simon's birthday was terrific. Wishing you all many more birthdays together to celebrate life... <3

    Kind Regards,
    Emine

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. bookemper says…
    01/22/2019

    Thanks for this post. I know, for me, right now I need to clean and purge my creative work space.... I also want to share...my OLW this year is Nature. (I am not exactly sure why, but it just kept making itself known)… As I have been watching videos and reading about benefits of getting out in nature..... one is it helps to increase our creativity.... just spending a little bit of time out in Nature without our devices.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      01/22/2019

      Totally agree!

  4. photecstasy says…
    01/22/2019

    Wow. This is sooooo true! I’m a hobby hopper. I ALWAYS come back to memory keeping eventually. I switched to digital in 2008, but in 2018, I did a WITL and DD physical albums. It was so amazing. I feel the pull to create another digital album for 2019. Doing a little bit of organization here & there (I’m still trying to finish scanning all the photos from the 90’s) for sure makes a difference! I love this!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Mameygirl says…
    01/22/2019

    I couldn't agree more. I sometimes just like to go through old photos and that simple act gives me plenty of ideas.....

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Elizabeth_Heinz says…
    01/22/2019

    What a GREAT post Ali. I'm sure I'll come back to it AGAIN and AGAIN. I think it's a good reminder that we ALL struggle with this at times. I also like to look through OLD albums and projects. Sometimes I'll see something I did before that SPARKS my creativity.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      01/22/2019

      Oh that's a great suggestion too! Thank you!

  7. laceyweeks says…
    01/22/2019

    It’s funny that you post this as it’s the opposite for me, this season of my life anyway. You know a bit about what we have going on, but for me, all i can think about is being creative. It’s my outlet from life and stress from it and my business. It used to be where I wouldn’t actually follow through because I *had* to organize my stuff first. I *had* to print off photos first. Then I would be disappointed, frustrated, irritated because I didn’t really do anything to help my stress levels or fulfill the need to be creative somehow and ended up being even more cranky lol This time around, lately, I’m just starting SOMEWHERE. And I’m so happy that i’ve finally broken through that mind process. I’ve gotten more done than I have ever done in my whole creative life.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      01/22/2019

      I am so glad you have made the switch to just "starting somewhere." So awesome.

  8. Bellaa75 says…
    01/22/2019

    Thanks for sharing as right now I have zero motivation in regards to memory keeping. I’ve been reading Atomic Habits and it has an interesting point about motivation - James Clear believes planning and scheduling time is the more important than motivation. So that’s what I am planning to do. Block out time each week to do it and just show up! Let’s see if that works!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. AliEdwards says…
      01/22/2019

      I have that one here to start soon!

    2. AliEdwards says…
      01/22/2019

      And that is kind of what I'm saying here too - show up and do something, one thing, vs. feeling like it has to be all of it at once.

  9. simple says…
    01/22/2019

    Thanks for this post. What works for me is cleaning my craft room and having a few weeks break. Currently watching your video on Week in The Life from May last year as i am finally finishing that project after a busy Dec Daily. Better late than never I always say.!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. LynnseyJo says…
    01/22/2019

    I am currently very inspired and busy creating more than I have in weeks. Something about January always gets me in the groove but I seem to lose it around June. Printing big batches of photos always helps me get going if I’m stuck.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Brandi_Cuan says…
    01/23/2019

    I myself am coming off of a 9 year break. I started and finished 2018's DD and made a plan for 2019. It feels so good, my perspective has changed, my attitude has changed, and what I value has changed. Cheers to a new year and being kind to yourself!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      01/29/2019

      Awesome :). Welcome back!

  12. MommaBeth says…
    01/23/2019

    Great tips Ali! Definitely needed to read this today!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. bwildflower36 says…
    01/27/2019

    Ali, I loved your Story Planner products, but didn't buy them when they first came into your shop and now only a few items are available. Will you be restocking or coming out with any new Story Planner products? Thanks!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      01/29/2019

      Yes - we have some new additions coming in February :).

  14. peggy1958sue says…
    01/30/2019

    Hi Ali! PLEASE HELP!! I should have asked you this personally when I had the chance at STORY CAMP! MAN!! Could you please give me just a few tips on how I can print enlarged photos on my EPSON R2000 printer? I have been having problems with them looking "muddy" and I can't seem to figure out why. I have your LENS of JOY class and took a little time to see if there was something in the class that could help. I didn't see anything at the time. What do you choose as far as "buttons" if you will, BEFORE going to the PRINT button. Do you do anything in Photoshop first on the image? Or do you do it mostly after you hit the PRINT button and do it with the printer. I hope you can give me a few little tips. THANKS SO MUCH!!! Peggy

    Reply 4 Replies
    1. AliEdwards says…
      01/30/2019

      Hi Peggy! Most of the time I compensate on my computer screen - meaning I will make the image lighter on there knowing how my printers print. In Photoshop that would mean using Levels or Curves or Brightness/Contrast to make it brighter overall. I don't do any color correction with the printer itself.

    2. peggy1958sue says…
      01/31/2019

      THANKS SO MUCH!! I do remember you saying something about curves at camp. I will give that a try! Super appreciate your response on this.

    3. krisparisi says…
      02/07/2019

      I also have an Epson, and had this exact problem. It turned out to be the paper I was using. I switched to a better quality paper and it took away the muddiness. Also be sure your settings on your computer and printer are the same...

    4. peggy1958sue says…
      02/09/2019

      Hi krisparisi! Thanks SO MUCH for the info. But I have to ask what you mean by the settings being the same. Could you please refer to what you mean if you have a minute to do that? THANKS!
      I am getting better results from just what Ali had mentioned doing and I am ONLY from now on, going to use Epson paper. I think that may have been part of my problem as well. Also not playing around TO MUCH with different corrections, etc. THANK YOU BOTH!!!

  15. Kfred says…
    01/30/2019

    This post was awesome.
    It has given me strategies to combat those winter blues that cause my motivation to hibernate.
    Thank you.

    Reply 0 Replies

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