Journaling for Scrapbooks: Where to Start

by Lain Ehmann on October 6, 2010

Simon_Shek/Flickr

On today’s ScrapHappy members’ Q&A call, I got a great question from one of our members about journaling for scrapbooks. I’ll paraphrase her words:

“I’m stuck when it comes to journaling. I never know what to say or how to say it. So I either have no journaling or very little. I want to start writing more so my children have something to look back on and be able to read the story behind the photos.”

This is such a common scrapbooking “ailment!” I think most scrappers feel this way at some point in time. Either the words won’t come, or you feel funny writing them down, or you just don’t know where to start.

I have several suggestions for the whole “journal ideas for scrapbooks” question:

1. Don’t expect to move from journaling couch potato to marathoner. If you currently don’t journal on your pages at all — or very little — you’re going to struggle to move to someone who fills the page with journaling. So set intermediary goals for yourself. Start by just trying to make sure you add the who-what-when-where facts to your layouts. Make it a habit to get this basic information down. Once you regularly are adding at least this level of journaling to your scrapbook layouts, then you can try to add more dimension and depth, addressing the “why” and the “how.”

2. Mine your own words. Don’t recreate the wheel. If you just wrote a page-long email to a girlfriend, telling her about your awesome trip to Disneyland, including when your four-year-old threw up on Mickey’s shoes, don’t force yourself to re-write it for  your scrapbook page journaling. Instead, copy it and print it out for your scrapbook page. Done! This is why God created the cut-and-paste function in Word. ;)

3. Go to the source. If you’re scrapbooking for your kids, sit down with them and look through your photos. See what questions they ask, and what your answers are. THAT is what you should be recording on your scrapbook pages! Take note of the stories that naturally come out, and the details you want to remember. Start there when you tell your stories.

And here’s another one I didn’t mention on the call…

4. Get help. If it’s a family scrapbook, enlist family help. Ask others in the photos what they remember and what they want to pass on (you can even ask/make them journal by hand so you can have handwriting samples).

In sum, your scrapbook isn’t really YOUR scrapbook until you put some words to it. Pretty photos are just pretty photos until you provide the viewer with context, giving the story behind the pictures and why they’re important to you.

P.S. You’ll get answers like this every month — as well as the chance to ask your own questions! — if you’re part of the ScrapHappy family. Check it out — I think you’ll like it. :)

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