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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Conquering the Journaling Dilemma


How many times have you sat down to write about an event taking place on the pages you are creating? Or look at blank canvas and can't figure out what to write. There is no real rule for journaling. It gives us license to be creative and to artistically express ourselves. Here are a few ideas to help overcome your journaling anxiety!

The Un-sent Letter Trick: Write a letter to someone in the picture and display it on a page. This journaling technique works for anniversary, birthday and graduation pages.

The How-to Trick: Choose an event or pick a favorite person to write about. Recall the things you did. Divvy up the attributes into a step by step process. (Ex: Steps for surviving an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese)

The List Trick: Are you a born list-maker? What a great way to journal. Fill up the page with details like you would a honey-do list! Instead of using bullet-point journaling, feature each item on a tag and put them on the page.

The Quote Trick: Create a page using the quotes from those in the pictures. I know of a scrapbooker who keeps a little notepad next to her bed. At night, she jots down things her children said and did throughout the day. Years later when she had time to sit down and scrapbook, she had all the info she needed...the date, the child, the event, and most importantly, what was said.

The Prompted Interview Trick: If you want to know an easy way to gather information about a person or an event, ask questions. Consider having a set of standard interview questions on hand to use for layouts that record milestones. It is nice to get this info from another person's perspective whether they are 4 or 100! It is never too late to get the information.

The ABC Trick: This is a good trick for writers who need a structure within which to write. Just list the alphabet and use it to jump-start the journaling page. Songs and poems work for this too...I once created a scrapbook for my daughter based on one of my favorite poems...How do I Love Thee? It turned out beautifully. I had to change some of the words of the poem to go with pictures, but I got the message across in an easy, no-stress way.

The Timeline Trick: Thinking about an event in the context of time can help your mind remember vivid details. You can make a timeline of memories and chronological key dates and events. If you are doing a heritage album, this is kind of fun to do with the beginning of a marriage or birth. If you keep a journal or if a family member kept a journal, you have a perfect timeline.

The Adjective Trick: Sometimes the picture is enough (a picture is worth a thousand words). Then you just need a few things to finish it off. Perhaps you can do words to describe how the person was feeling, what was happening when the picture was taken, what emotion did the event evoke?

The Investigative Reporter Trick: A good reporter never forgets the facts! The basics of journaling are: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? It can be brief, but it is always important! Most times this is all you need. You can create these within your title, captions, and so on.

The Sensory Trick: Elaborate on an event by recalling all of your five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. Start small with simple word details for each sense such as "the texture of the tree bark felt rough". A fourth of July page may incorporate things such as...the heat of the day, the beat of the music, and the smell of the barbeque. A wedding may include the feelings you had that day or even what the weather was.

Remember, you don't have to be Hemingway or create The Great American Novel. In the future, you will be happy that you did your journaling and so will your posterity.

  1. Just do it - sit down and write about anything. It will give you practice putting words on a page.
  2. Keep a journal - these are perfect for a no-pressure writing frame of mind.
  3. Take a break - sitting and staring at blank pieces of paper makes things worse. Go on to another page and let your mind wonder. Often this will help when you come back to the original page.
  4. Don't be too hard on yourself - don't be a critic. Everyone must begin somewhere. Practice makes perfect.
  5. Add your Personal Spin - when you write, be true to your feelings and describe things honestly. Your personal spin on events will make your journaling meaningful.

By Janey Pumphrey, MemoryWorks TeamWorks Member

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