By Christina VanGinkel
Knowing what to write on your scrapbook layouts can be enough to bring even the most prolific scrap booker to a screeching halt. You have the pictures, you have the title, and you have all of the embellishments such as tags, frames, and fibers all in place, but what you really want is to somehow express the feelings, the meaning of it all, into words.
Yes, I know that many of the best layouts do not include an ounce of journaling, but many do. Sometimes the journaling is needed to express something about the photo or event that is just not going to be apparent without the addition of words. Especially to those who will view the scrapbook sometime into the future. Yet, the words will just not come, you just cannot grasp what you want to say or how to say it, so you end up sitting there, staring at the page.
For those times, I have discovered that simply writing down, on scrap paper, what needs to be conveyed, will often lead to journaling worthy of the layout. What I mean by this is to state the facts. Put them down on paper. Sometimes, that visual aid is enough to get those words from their roughest form into a piece of journaling that is perfect for the layout. If you are not even sure of the facts, then look at the layout as it is, and write down the first words that come to mind. I am often surprised myself when I do this little writing prompt just how many words and phrases pop into my mind. Sure, some of them have absolutely nothing to do with what I want to convey about the layout in front of me, but many more times, what does come, are dead on, and even aspects that I did not think I would have ever thought of without such a prompting.
Other times you will end up with the facts, and little else, yet you still want more. Look at the facts, and consider if there is someway to make the facts fit the page more eloquently than just writing them down as you just did on the scrap of paper. Could you arrange them into the layout into some physical form that will be pleasing to the eye, yet still work to convey the facts, as simple as they are? For example, write them in a circular shape, use them as a border, place them into a bulleted list, something besides just writing them in plain text across a still barren looking part of the layout, so that you end up with something visually pleasing, but still conveying the facts all together.
When all of this fails, then maybe it is time to turn to someone else for the words. Ask your best friend, your mother, the person sitting next to you at the crop, what they see when they look at the layout. You could also try a book or two created just for those times when no matter what you try to say, it just does not seem to work. A few to check out:
Scrapbook Journaling Made Simple: Tips for Telling the Stories Behind Your Photos, put together by Memory Makers
One Minute Journaling, by Joanna Campbell Slan, which includes journaling tips and story starters, plus much more
What About the Words, Creative Journaling for Scrapbookers, also by Memory Makers Books.
While none of these books can just magically make the words appear they can all provide you with the motivation to at least begin journaling.
Music lyrics are another good place to search for inspiration, and with scrap lifting such an open aspect of creating good layouts, using the lyrics from a song can be just as uplifting.
Finally, remember that longer is not always better, and then remember that shorter is not always better. What I mean is that no matter what you journal, whether it is a few short sentences, a quick phrase, or a page full of writing, then it will be perfect. Journaling is not always easy, but it is always worth it. So at least try it, you might be surprised at how well the words flow after that first one that ahs been silently blocking the dam.