Book Note: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Scrapbooking Christmas in January: When You Make a Layout You Don't Love

Scrapbooking Christmas in January: What to Do when You Don't Know What to Do

Christmas in january 2016

When I sat down to scrapbook Kaleb’s Christmas 2015 photos, I found myself stumped. I had a bunch of cute photos, and a whole bunch of awesome supplies, but nothing was speaking to me.  I didn’t want to put them aside, however, and work on something else, because I have that goal of getting all of Christmas 2015 scrapped before February 1.

I think that “I don’t know what to do with these pictures” feeling is a common problem when you’re scrapping something like Christmas, something that repeats in your albums. In a certain sense, all of the supplies are the same, or at the very least, very similar, and maybe some of your photos are too, if you’re like me and tend to take traditional pictures every year.

So I used some of the techniques I always use when I’m feeling a little bit resistant to making a layout. I thumbed through my Christmas drawer (but nothing grabbed me). I thought about titles (but nothing jumped out). I looked at layouts on my Pinterest boards (but nothing inspired me). I reread my journal from Christmas…and then I started to get a sense of why I was resisting this particular layout.

I sort of feel like I failed this year, at making Christmas magical for Kaleb. The new church suit he wanted was too small (and too grey!), his coveted Chuck Taylors too big, and his secret hope for a remote-control car unfulfilled. (Not that he complained, really. He wasn’t bratty about it. I just sensed a sort of sadness.) Which makes me feel all sorts of complicated feels, because it is likely the last year he’ll be a believer. And because I take it seriously, my role as Santa. Even when my kids have found out the truth, I still like them to have some surprises, some wishes fulfilled that seemed impossible. So when I think about Kaleb and Christmas 2015, I feel sad for him and annoyed at myself.

I think for some scrapbookers, writing about only the positive aspects of things is part of their method. For me, though, I don't have a problem with writing about the imperfect things. In fact, it's fairly hard to put a glowy lens on something that wasn't entirely glowy. This is a personal choice and has every bit to do with a scrapbooker's personality, so I'm not judging at all. But for me to feel like I am making layouts with journaling that is authentic to me, I tend to write about what really happened, the good and the difficult.  

So instead of being glowy, I took a deep breath and I wrote what I was really feeling and what really happened. Christmas in january no3 journaling close up
And once I got those words down, I was past my scrapper’s block. The journaling gave me the title and a sense of what embellishments to use (because how could I not use a Santa of some sort, with such a story?) and also the colors (obviously very Santa-inspired!). Plus I gave myself permission to go just a little bit crazy with some glitter cardstock! 

This is why, for me, it’s always best if I start a layout by writing the journaling. I can’t see my way to what I want to do until I’ve written what needs to be said. Then I can imagine the layout. I know not everyone works that way, but my suggestion for today is this: if you’re feeling like you don’t know exactly what to do with a set of pictures (but still want to get them scrapbooked), try writing the journaling, and see where it leads you.

Christmas in january no4 never stop believing Amy Sorensen

Some other ideas for if you’re stumped (but still want to get those photos scrapped):

  1. Switch up your process. If you usually start by picking your supplies, write your journaling first. If you start with photos, try picking a supply first, and then find photos or stories that go with it.
  2. Make a layout supply kit for an entirely different layout. You don’t even have to have the photos printed for it. Just pick something else you want to scrap, then choose some supplies for that story. Try to pick something that doesn’t relate at all to the other pictures. Set those supplies aside, and go back to your stubborn photos. Just looking at something different sometimes helps your ideas start to flow!
  3. Challenge yourself to use a specific type of supply; bonus points if it’s something you haven’t used in a while. When was the last time you made a stamped background? used your Copic markers? dug out your die cut machine? Sometimes techniques can get you engaged with the process.
  4. Take a quick break. Give yourself ten minutes to do something physical: walk around your backyard to admire your rosebushes, throw in a load of laundry, go get the mail out of your mailbox. Ignore all thoughts of scrapbooking for those ten minutes. Then see what new energy you discover!
  5. Look through some of your older layouts. Sometimes what you need is a reminder: you can do this! Remind yourself of that by seeing that you already have, in fact, done it. Don’t just flip through layouts; look at them. Remember how much you loved that embellishment or patterned paper? What about that funny thing your kid said that you’d forgotten about till you read it on a layout? See. You can totally do this. Now get going!

What do you do when you find yourself stumped over a set of photos?

Happy scrapping!


Feisty Harriet

I don't scrap, but I find this same kind of process for writing in general, or for any organizational project. :)



Love the end result of your journalling, Amy - I'm always impressed by what you write. I think it would take me absolutely ages to look through any of your albums, because I'd be reading every layout!
Thanks for your suggested avenues to break scrappers' reluctance - I've a page I want to do about my son's being a good friend, and thanks to you I'm going to work on the journalling first.

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