The Family Project: Your Questions Answered
You might be thinking, How does it work?
Over 12 weeks, we'll get you started by sharing with you a series of different creative exercises and projects.
This way, you can accumulate material gradually.
And pick up new creative skills along the way.
We recommend that you join our community, where you can find mutual support and share ideas with others tackling the same things as you.
You might be thinking, I'm not creative
We've worked with many people who think they're “not creative”…
…or “can't tell stories”.
We have ways to help you see for yourself that's not true.
Some years ago, John-Paul started training as a theatrical improviser. (Yeah, he does a lot of stuff like that.)
Through impro, he learned that stories can be created and shaped rapidly and easily, using what we know already.
We will show you how to access your OWN creative spirit.
It will greatly enhance the work you do in The Family Project.
And your life generally.
Here's what one of JP's private clients said:
“I thought, maybe we can make a bit of headway and you, like, ballooned it and it was, wow, what have we got? You have some kind of magic there” – Liz
As for storytelling: not everybody can be Stephen King or Tracy Chevalier, or whoever else you care to mention.
But wouldn't that be awful? Boring!
(We love Stephen King btw.)
But there are proven ways for ANYONE to quickly improve their storytelling.
We'll share those – and again, there will be huge benefits across your work and your life generally.
What will I have at the end?
Some people want to write a physical book.
Others might like to create a web-based Family Project.
The choice is yours.
We will help you choose which works best for you, and show you how to make it happen.
From the basics. No prior knowledge required.
If you already know the basics, that's fine too.
Because additionally we'll be sharing high-level material in this course, for people who want it.
Harriet will share everything she has learned on Guardian Family about making stories fly online…
John-Paul will share what he learned when he was crowd-funding…
If you are concerned about privacy, we'll show you how to protect different parts of your online content using tags, categories and passwords.
The same way we do it on this website.
But going back to the basics for a second…
If you want to create something physical, John-Paul will explain how he first published one of his memoirs as a limited edition of books that he hand-stitched and hand-bound himself.
He went on to teach bookbinding classes, at places like Selfridges in London. Here are some of his students:
We'll show you how to do that.
And when he got stuck on another book, he used one of the major online printing companies to “publish” each version of his work in progress…
Gradually made improvements to the contents inside…
And the cover design…
…until he was ready to share it more widely.
(THAT is when the “proper” publishers got interested…)
You can do the same. We'll show you how.
I don't have a lot of time…
The course is designed to take up no more than 90 minutes a week.
We paced it to last 12 weeks, because we believe that works best for you – but you can do it more quickly if you prefer.
Or more slowly.
The more you put in, the more you get out.
In other words: you can complete The Family Project at your own pace.
But we strongly encourage you to keep up, because that gives you a greater sense of momentum, and builds accountability.
If you don't want momentum, and accountability, you might as well just buy our book.
It was published in the UK in 2015. And subsequently in several other languages.
People seemed to love it.
One family told us they take the book on every holiday.
“It's our family bible.”
We were ecstatic when we heard that.
The book contains versions of the exercises we'll be sharing on the course:
But we're not plonking a “BUY NOW” button here.
We want to do something more helpful.
Because in most cases, the book is not enough.
The (regrettable) truth is that most people don't do much unless they have:
- a timetable
- a framework
- somebody to encourage them and hold them to account
To often, the book just sits there, gathering dust.
How do we know that you NEED accountability?
Well, every so often, John-Paul teaches writing on residential courses.
Here he is, working hard:
The best thing about residential courses is the chance to focus, and freedom from distraction.
But they have a downside…
For a start, there's the cost: £750 a week is typical.
And they take you away from home, where you may be needed.
Last year, John-Paul taught on a residential course with some great students. REALLY GOOD writers.
Some of them were hoping to get an agent, find a publisher…
One was a woman with a very powerful story.
She made enormous progress. Here's what she said immediately after the course:
“A wonderful week. Far exceeded my expectations. Am feeling both inspired and motivated.”
But when JP contacted her a year later, to ask how she was getting on…
…she said she had done NOTHING more.
“Wish I could just get my head down and get it done. I procrastinate too much and find it tricky with three young kids.”
So please, when we show you how to do it, SIGN UP at once for The Family Project.
It takes only 90 minutes a week.
And you can do it WITH your family.
(In fact, it's better that way.)
We will regularly chase up to find out how you are doing…
…and help you to find mutual support in the community…
…so that you can hold each other to account.
We want you to succeed, and will do all we can to help.
My relatives won't help
We've designed The Family Project so that you can do the work on your own.
But most of the exercises work best by sharing them.
In fact, part of our sinister secret agenda for creating The Family Project is precisely to get people talking to each other about what really matters…
(oops, the secret's out now)
…at a time when families are increasingly separated by geography and by digital distraction.
That's why we created an affordable family price, cheaper even than for two separate individuals.
We'll tell you about that in a minute…
Because the more contributions you have, the better the final result.
But you might be thinking: “My family will never do this. They'll hate it.”
Or, “They're not creative.”
Or, “They don't care about family stuff.”
Remember how Roman got his father wrong all that time?
Of COURSE they care about family!
As for being creative: can you really be sure about that?
Let's be clear. If you sign up relatives without asking first, they may not share your enthusiasm.
They may be positively resistant.
And they MAY not think of themselves as writers, or artists…
But we're confident that they care about their family.
And as long as you don't try to FORCE anything, their natural curiosity will win out.
They're human. They'll want to share their stories too.
We think they'll be CLAMOURING to join in.
And even if you only get a few contributions from them towards the larger family project, those may be things that were previously blind spots for you.
Because each member of your family has a different take on things.
And isn't that a good thing?
Does everyone have to be the same?
(If you think so, scroll back up to those five pictures of Stephen King, please. Let it soak in for a second.)
And aren't a few contributions to your Family Project better than NONE?
What if we have disagreements?
There may be differences of opinion about aspects of your family story.
Or subjects that are Never Spoken About.
That can be painful.
But it's not what The Family Project is about. It's not a WEAPON to use to prove you were right.
It's not about forcing anybody to do anything, or talk about anything.
It's about inviting each other to share good things.
And where there are differences, there's usually a way around.
At The Guardian, Harriet has helped hundreds of writers negotiate this difficulty.
There is always a way to protect privacy and acknowledge differences of opinion without damaging the power of the story.
One way is to allow everybody to put forward their own version, and agree to differ.
Another option is just to agree to leave out contentious material.
In The Family Project, we'll show you how.
We want to give you more
We really want to pack this with value.
So as a bonus, we'll send you guidance from specialists who will provide insights into:
- storytelling with words
- storytelling with pictures
- taking and editing photos,
- building a website,
This is IN ADDITION to the core course material.
If time is short, we don't want you to feel pressured to consume everything.
(Just want to be clear about that.)
But each of these additional pieces of content is incredibly valuable.
It could profoundly change the way you approach your Family Project, and how you tell your stories:
I want more personal help
If you start The Family Project, we may contact you out of the blue, to check how you're doing.
Send you a text…
Or an email…
And we join in the community forum ourselves. We don't always comment, because we want to encourage mutual support.
But we read everything.
So you know that we'll be holding you to account.
If you decide you want one-to-one help…
We're not currently taking on new clients, but opportunities do occasionally come up.
And if that isn't possible, we can recommend the very best writers and editors to work with you.
Currently we charge £200 plus VAT for one-to-one coaching sessions.
In dollars, that's between $250 and $300.
We know that's too much for many people, so we created this course to be VASTLY more affordable.
ANOTHER BONUS: Access to our live Q&As
We want to give you even more value.
We hold Q&As every two weeks, to give you personal help as you are going along.
We do them online. You can join on a computer, or on your phone.
Just send us your questions before each 90 minute Q&A.
Even if you don't have any questions, we strongly recommend that you join the session, because hearing what other people are dealing with can often unlock something for you…
If you are unable to attend one of the sessions, we'll send you a link to a recording, so you miss nothing.
With this help, it will be much easier for you to get the results you are looking for – and faster.
We had two choices
When we were creating The Family Project, we wondered about making it as cheap as possible, so we could sell more courses and help more people.
But we wouldn’t be able to stack the value for you.
We wouldn’t be able to read all your comments, and chase up with texts and emails, and add the bonus Q&As.
So we decided to go with the second option, which obviously requires a higher investment on your side.
In exchange for that, we can dedicate our time, energy and resources to help ensure your success.
So we're wondering…
If you were able to get on with it, what might you create?
Try to answer that before you read on. It’s very important.
Take your time. We won’t go anywhere :-)
And we're wondering…
If you pulled that off, what would it be worth to you?
What would the impact be?
Who ELSE could be delighted, and fascinated, and moved?
Seriously: think about it.
Perhaps you can see why people pay us so much for our help. Because creating something like this is an investment.
What we're proposing here is the creation of an HEIRLOOM.
But we want to increase the numbers of people we help.
So we're going to make you an offer…