Journaling Puts the BOOK in Scrapbook

Alison Day
Alison Day

Do you, or don’t you? That’s the big question when it comes to journaling and this month your ScrapHappy Design Team aims to help you if you struggle and give you new ideas of how to add journaling to your pages if you’re already an avid writer. Before I dive into my tips, have you checked out Nikki’s blog post yet? Oh my goodness, I am in love with her journaling/doodling combo! Be sure to hop over there and read all about it.

The first thing I want to say to preface my post is that I hope we can agree that we are all making scrapbooks.


We are all pretty good at adding photos and “scraps”, but how good are we at the ‘book’ part of it? I am the first to raise my hand here and confess to enjoying the gluing of pretty papers together more than telling the story. Alice is amazing at getting her stories down! If you want inspiration, I recommend listening to her Podcast. Go all the way back to the beginning, she’s got such good ideas and story starters!

My other source for inspiration and guidance is Shimelle Laine. She has an album philosophy that I roughly adhere to, and she is a staunch advocate for making sure there is a book in your scrapbooks! I’ve put a link to her online classes page – the ones that really helped me learn about creating a ‘book’ and making sure to leave space for the story are; A Most Magical Scrapbook, Cover to Cover, and The Scrapbook Process. Currently she is starting a new series of classes called This Year’s Story which will show her process for how she tells her 2023 stories. Full disclosure; I am not affiliated with her in any way, just a super fan!

So how do I approach my journaling when I have more to say than “we went to the park and it was fun”? I took a look through my layout archives to find ones where I’d done a lot of journaling, I’d hidden sensitive journaling, and I’d used my journaling as a design element. Let’s take a deeper look and see if one or more of these ideas helps you get more words on your pages.

1 - Use a List

Lists are a super easy way to document information that maybe isn’t your typical linear story. In this case I had a whole lot of photos of gravestones which related to our Edinburgh adventures into JK Rowling’s creative process for the Harry Potter books. Pairing a numbered note to a photo makes more sense than having a list on one journaling card. Plus it emphasizes the scavenger hunt aspect of this particular story as we had to hunt through a LOT of gravestones to find what we were looking for!

2 - Give it Space

I’ve got two examples for this prompt. In this first one, my journaling takes up approximately the same amount of page real-estate as my photos. That is a big indicator to my readers that the story is just as important as the photos. Almost more so as the photos are very passive in nature. My middle daughter has struggled with language from birth and when we finally got help, and finally got answers it was such a huge relief that I absolutely had to tell that part of her story in my scrapbooks.

My second example is also another example of a list but this time I gave it it’s very own page (half a page really) as I didn’t want the words to take away from the photos and that city map. Adding a 6×12 page like this into your albums is a fantastic way to add more journaling, a couple more photos, or a program. Sometimes we have a lot to fit onto our 12×12 or 24×12 canvas and it can start to feel chaotic. This allows me to focus on the pretty papers, photos and stickers on one page, and all the words on another.

3 - Frame It

Once again I have two examples of journaling around your page to frame your page. They have very different feels though so I thought it worth sharing both. 

This first one has so much going on in the middle of the page that trying to fit a journaling box in there too would have been impossible. This was made during LOAD218 and I’m pretty sure the prompt was to create a patterned paper or something. So I wanted to feature the pattern I created with my Harry Potter stamps. This also had a particularly long story about how we almost missed our opportunity to taste Butter Beer while at the Harry Potter Studios in London. Since my background paper had a very pale pattern that would easily allow writing over top, my solution was to write around and around my page until the story was told.

My next example didn’t start off as you see it.

In my original version (which you can see on my blog here) I had written all the journaling beneath the photo block. It filled the space that is now filled with mist droplets. It was crooked and looked heavy. In fact it made the entire layout feel like it was drooping down to the right corner. Not the light, ethereal layout I had imagined! 

I decided to start over and picked up the whole photo block and put it on a new piece of white cardstock. this time I wrote my journaling around the edge of the layout as a way to frame it. It worked! My layout feels light and airy as I intended, and I managed to fit in a lot of words. (This was “long story” moment).

4 - Hide It Away

Before you say “but there’s obvious journaling on this page” let me explain. 

Sometimes you have a story that has another, deeper story to go along with it. This is one of those layouts. I was working on my youngest daughter’s 1st year album and came to the part in her story when we found out she was going to be a girl. I have 3 daughters. You would not be wrong to think that we really hoped baby #3 was going to be a boy. Finding out that was not the case was tough, I won’t lie. There were other factors going on at the time that made the whole pregnancy horrible and this was kind of the final straw. 

Does that story need to be openly out for all the world to see? No. Does my daughter need know how upset I was at the news I was to have another girl? Maybe, maybe not. Does she know that hidden behind that typewriter card is a letter to her explaining all of that and more? Maybe, maybe not! 

Sometimes you just need to get the words out of your head and heart and onto the page. In that act, you can process grief, anger, frustration, guilt, joy, sorrow … all the emotions! And then you can tuck it away in such a way that you may be the only one who ever knows it’s there. And that’s okay! I’m also okay if, some day down the road, my daughter pulls this layout out of the page protector and discovers the hidden letter. If I’m gone then it will probably answer a lot of questions about why I am the way I am with her and in my life in general. If I’m still around, we can have a good chat about all the things! Either way, I got another part of my story told and that makes me happy.

So there you have it, four ways to add journaling or enhance your journaling. Which one have you used in the past? Which one will you try next?

Until next month, Happy Scrapping!

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