“Journaling is hard—I never know what to write or how to say it,” says Kate, an experienced scrapbooker. “I usually just skip it entirely or just write the name and date. Yet I look back on my older scrapbook pages and regret not journaling all the details. I need journaling help!”
Sound familiar? Although a picture is worth a thousand words, your children and grandchildren will rely upon your written documentation to tell the rest of the story. But you already know journaling is important—what you need is a little inspiration, something to help you tell your story while adding to the look, the feel and the theme of your album page. Everyone has a story to tell, a lesson to share, experiences to relate. That’s why we scrapbook, right?
Journal, Journal, Journal
The “who, what, where, why and when” details are basic journaling guidelines. But what else happened when that photo was taken? Imagine you are showing the photos to a friend—what stories or anecdotes would you tell?
And don’t think you must journal only the good parts of the story. Maybe your five-year-old daughter is smiling in that photo—but threw a temper tantrum minutes later. Not all of your journaling has to paint a picture of a perfect event, experience or family. (Nor do you have to share this book with everyone!)
Do I HAVE to Handwrite This Journaling?
Absolutely not. Typing your stories on the computer can make journaling faster, easier—and it will even check your spelling. Many scrappers discover that they write more when they journal on the computer. It’s also a great way to experiment with different fonts and type sizes; you can center blocks of text or break them up into separate journaling pieces.
You might consider adding your own writing to at least some of your pages. It is, after all, a part of you—even if it’s messy or runs uphill! If you’re still hesitant, avoid journaling directly onto your background paper. Instead, write on a slip of paper.
Many scrappers compromise on this issue by computer-journaling a longer story as part of the layout, then hand-writing the date the page was completed (with a signature) on the backside of the page or toward the bottom right of the front side.
Just The Facts: Reporting the Story
A scrapbook is a record; it documents your family’s milestones—big and small. Often, a photo will speak a thousand words, in which case, all you need to fill in are the details: who, what, when, why and where. You can write something as simple as, “Katie and Max. June 1962.” If you plan to journal just the 5 W’s, consider writing in the third person perspective (“John and Mary” instead of “John and I”); this helps identify you to the future generations who will read your book.
“But that still doesn’t make me a writer!” you might say. “What can I do to write better anecdotes and stories?”
You don’t have to be a great writer to include your family stories. Remember, no critics will grade your storytelling style—and your grandchildren will be grateful for any glimpse into your life.
Need some inspiration? Start with this: After you include the “who, what, where” details, consider what information is missing from your page. If you were to show your page to an acquaintance, what details would you add verbally? What were the highlights of the day or the event? Was it a typical day or a special event? Did anything unusual or unexpected occur?
Next time you get a case of Writer’s Block, use these journaling recipes to get your pen (or your typing fingers) going:
Top Ten Favorite Journaling Recipes
Recipe #1. Conversations: Record conversations—between children, between you and a child, between you and your spouse or friend.
Recipe #2. Facts: Recording facts is probably one of the easiest ways to journal—and once you start researching, you might discover a few surprises!
Recipe #3. Lists: Include a weekend to-do list, a child’s birthday wish list or your family shopping list.
Recipe #4: He says/She says: Journal to compare the first time a couple met, opinions on the choice of a baby’s name, or how that lamp got broken.
Recipe #5: File a report: Create a mock police report on how that vase was broken or write a “newspaper” story on the winning game or noting a person’s achievement. Or try an “Extra! Extra!” edition describing the family’s reaction to news of a new baby or marriage announcement.
Recipe #6: List of Words: Include a list of words that describes something or someplace in the photo. These can be physical traits, character traits, or words that go with a certain activity.
Recipe #7: Timeline Journaling: Create a timeline or calendar to document how your family gets ready for the holidays. Use the same recipe to chart a child’s progress, note activities on a vacation, or document a pregnancy.
Recipe #8: Receipts: Typical trip to the grocery store, the receipt from your first car purchase, the obstetrician’s bill.
Recipe #9: Using Numbers: Incorporate numbers into your journaling for easy lists. A Top 10 list is a great place to start.
Recipe #10: About The Author journaling: Use that last single page of a scrapbook to journal about the author of the book—you! Take a peek at a real book jacket bio from a hardback book for inspiration.