Day Nine: Journaling – Susan Says…

Leslie Smith
Leslie Smith

Although I love to write and want many of my pages to have meaningful journaling, sometimes I just can’t figure out what to say or how to say it. There are a few things I do when I come up against writer’s block that usually help get me back on track and I’d like to share them here, along with some of the pages they helped me complete.

1. Think about the basics in the photo or group of photos (who, what, where, when, why or how) and then try to expand on just one of those details. Out of all the photos I took this past Easter, the one I took of the colorful plastic eggs stood out to me more than any other. In the layout below, I used the “what” (the plastic eggs) to talk about our evolving family tradition:

2. Use repetitive phrasing (“When you were five…”, “On this vacation…”, “This day was special because…”) to jump-start your journaling. I used the phrase “I remember” on a birthday layout I made for one of my daughters:

I’m really inspired by how Ali Edwards uses this type of journaling. She included some repetitive phrases on a list of journaling prompts she posted on her blog earlier this year. You can find it here: (you’ll need to cut & paste).

3. Write a list. This is one of my favorite solutions when I can’t think of what to say on a page. It’s easy; it’s quick; it gets the job done. In this layout I listed some of the things that our family did last summer:

4. Sometimes I just leave the photos out with a blank sheet of paper for a few days and write things down as they come to mind. I had a bunch of extra photos from random birthday parties we hosted when our girls were younger. I’d already made pages for the specific parties but just couldn’t part with these extra photos so they sat in a file for a few years. I was looking through them a few months ago and noticed some details that weren’t necessarily about the birthdays. They were little things I’d forgotten but that really captured that time in our lives. I jotted down some of those details as I looked at the photos over a couple of days and ended up with this layout:

5. Ask someone else for their memories of that particular day/occasion in the photos and use their words on your pages. It’s nice to have someone else’s perspective on a layout.

6. Look through scrapbook magazines or online galleries. Sometimes someone else’s pages will spark an idea in you.

7. Write a letter to the subject in your photos, even if that subject is an inanimate object. Here’s a layout I did with a letter I wrote to my treadmill to explain that I’d be using it again now that the cold weather had arrived:

8. Use a quiz to accompany your photos. I paired up a recent photo of one of my daughters with her answers to a quiz I’d found online (I think it was from the Write.Click.Scrapbook site last summer):

9. Use a quote. I have quite a collection of them and can usually find one that fits when I have a photo to scrapbook but don’t have the words to go with it. I paired up a quote and a favorite photo for a quick layout here:

10. Relax. Not every page has to have Pulitzer Prize-worthy journaling on it. You can’t force it ~ sometimes it’s best to just let it go. Take a break. Try working with other photos or do something else entirely. The inspiration will eventually hit you. If it doesn’t, just record the basics and move on. As I said above, I like many of my pages to have meaningful journaling. I have plenty of pages that just list the facts and that’s perfectly fine with me.

So my challenge for you today is to give one of these journaling ideas a try. I hope they help you get started recording the story of your photos.

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