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Author Archive | Jennifer Wilson

How to Escape a Creative Funk

Have you ever felt stuck in a creative funk?

For some this looks like lack of interest in your craft, and for others there is interest without motivation to act. Intellectually you know this phase won’t last forever, but it can feel frustrating while you’re in the midst of the slump.

You know how good it feels to spend time on your hobby and advance your projects.

How to Escape a Creative Funk

I have been in this place more times than I can count. Truth be told, sometimes I experience fraudy feelings as a creative business owner who struggles with this problem.

Over time, I’ve honed my ability to escape a creative funk by 1) giving myself permission to think and then 2) forcing myself to stop. This was the process that led to my album approach and a more recent transition to creating hybrid pocket pages.

Here’s how to try it for yourself:

Step-by-Step Plan for Getting Out of a Creative Funk

1. Identify and accept the situation. You can’t start making your way through and out of a slump without recognizing that it’s there. Instead of running a negative internal monologue, remind yourself that it’s normal to sometimes feel uncreative.

2. Take note of any life changes or unique obstacles. While it’s quite common to experience a downturn in creative energy for no specific reason, it’s always worth taking a look at the season of life you’re in right now. Has anything changed recently?

3. Look for possible course corrections. If crafting feels like you’re swimming upstream, it could be time to change direction. That could look like adjusting your expectations, switching up formats, or working to find your most creative time of the day.

4. Schedule a 15-minute creative date and follow through. This step is the clincher because you need to transition from thinking in your head to acting in the real world. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in your own internal dialogue that you forget what it feels like to create.

5. Repeat #4 until your creative funk is gone. You may feel some resistance as you get started again and again, but it will get easier. The key is to maintain the 15-minute boundary to help ensure you can always find time to fit it in.

We all go through periods of low motivation. It’s a natural and normal part of the creative process. A thoughtful pause will move you in the right direction, but ultimate you must create your way out of a funk.

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What Your 6 Favorite Layouts Say About You

We live in a world with no shortage of ideas on any topic, let alone scrapbooking. This creates a unique challenge for modern crafters seeking fresh insight, as it is difficult to moderate time spent in search mode. (Even scientists now confirm that viewing images on social platforms such as Facebook alters your perception of time!)

Fortunately you can leverage you own body of work to feel more inspired and learn about your creative process. This quiet process of reaching inward, rather than constantly scrolling, can serve as personal guide to what makes your hobby uniquely you.

The insight gleaned from your six favorite layouts can boost your creative confidence by helping you do more of what works.

In this post I’m sharing a simple invitation to explore a series of completed pages. The insight gleaned from your six favorite layouts can boost your creative confidence by helping you do more of what works. Plus, I’ve got a free printable worksheet for you:

What do your layouts say about you?

Discover the secrets hiding in your scrapbooks that can make your creative process easier and more fun.

1. A layout that shows how far you’ve come.

This layout offers insight on how your process – and your life – have changed over time.

When I transitioned from digital to paper scrapbooking after my daughter was born, I was focused on fitting the pieces together like a puzzle. Today I see my layouts in layers, focusing first on the foundation of what’s most important and building up from there.

What Your 6 Favorite Layouts Say About You

2. A layout that you’re incredibly proud of.

This layout offers insight on why you’re a scrapbooker, often highlighting the balance between creative expression and personal storytelling that fits you best.

I have been very open that becoming a mother changed my perspective on scrapbooking. I create to help my daughter know and understand the context of her life, particularly the immense value she has to offer the world.

What Your 6 Favorite Layouts Say About You

3. A layout that you truly enjoyed creating.

This layout offers insight on the techniques and supplies that most naturally fit your personality.

The pages that feel more effortless usually begin with an artistic, abstract background. I believe starting with paints and inks helps to loosen up my perfectionism, allowing me to focus on telling the story and enjoying the process.

What Your 6 Favorite Layouts Say About You

4. A layout that exemplifies your style.

This layout offers insight on the stylistic nuances you can repeat again and again to create authentically.

My scrapbooking almost always begins with a piece of white cardstock. I enjoy layering various patterns in muted, tertiary colors to create a base for my photos and a starting point for embellishment. I love using letter stickers, word art (stickers and stamps), and tiny shapes to add creative detail. Drawn-in lines give me confidence to hand write my journaling.

What Your 6 Favorite Layouts Say About You

5. A layout that deeply touches your heart.

This layout offers insight on the stories and storytelling approaches that are most important to you.

Even with just a small paragraph of journaling, it’s important to me to capture not just the facts but also the larger context of feelings and interrelated memories. I take each layout as an opportunity to share more of the story.

What Your 6 Favorite Layouts Say About You

6. A layout you love to look at.

This layout offers insight on the deeper yearnings of your heart, beyond the reach of your brain’s ability to analyze and decipher.

As a left-brained/INTJ creative, my brain is always trying to assemble the puzzles of life. This layout celebrates a small moment, but more importantly underscores my ongoing need to create in all domains.

What Your 6 Favorite Layouts Say About You

This activity can take as little as 20 minutes to complete. Follow the link below to download the free printable worksheet to start exploring what works best for you in scrapbooking.

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I’m Not Choosing a Word for 2017

This has happened before.

At some point late in the year, I’m reminded of the One Little Word project, and I struggle to remember my choice. I start off with so much optimism about how this word will shape my year, but then life gets in the way.

My enthusiasm fizzles out and eventually, I forget. In October of 2016 I had to go look at the plastic word I had custom-made to remember. My word was trust and I fondly reflected on doing the inner work to live that in the first quarter of 2016.

Has this ever happened to you? Maybe you didn’t completely forget, but I know how life is. It’s not consistent throughout the year and our priorities shift. What you need most in January is likely not what you need most in October, but I have an idea.

I have an idea that just might prevent disconnection from my chosen word, an idea that will better align with my needs over the course of a year. I’m going to opt-out of choosing one word.

I have an idea that just might prevent disconnection from my chosen word, an idea that will better align with my needs over the course of a year. I'm going to opt-out of choosing one word.

I’m Choosing 4 Words in 2017

I’ve refreshed my scrapbooking hobby every season for several years, and now I’m applying this mindset to the rest of my self-care. We naturally do this in many domains, but the community call has always been to choose one guidepost for personal growth.

Instead, each season I will select a new word to guide my inner work. I’ll give myself permission to choose the same word if I’m not yet “done” with it, but also claim equal permission to start fresh and tackle a new challenge.

By pausing each season to choose a new word that best reflects what’s exciting and meaningful to me, I’ll be more likely to follow through on exploring it creatively and take actions to make that word visible in my life. Perhaps most importantly, I’ll also release the guilt I feel over not seeing it through to the end.

In fact, I’ve already started experimenting with this concept, and my word for fall 2016 chose me: nourish. As we turned to the cooler months, I craved substance and meaning. The fall season, for me, was about making choices that support the lifestyle I want to live and are flexible enough to shift as I do.

Now that we’ve entered the new year, my word for winter 2017 is practice. Stronger habits for health and happiness require baby steps and repetition until new skills become automatic.

Whether you’ve selected a word for 2017 or not, I want to offer this simple permission to embrace shifting priorities and allow yourself to evolve with the seasons.

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How I Plan to Scrapbook 2017

For the past five years I’ve been using an approach to scrapbooking that combines layouts and pocket pages in one album. This unconventional take on organizing album content was a huge creative lightbulb moment for me. Ultimately, it is a semi-chronological strategy that leans on organization within the album to give more context to each story.

In that time I’ve used several 12×12 albums, as well as tried other dimensions on for size. In this post I want to share what I’ve learned, as well as my plans for the upcoming year. While I’m always still adding to older albums, I love starting fresh with clarity on how the new stories will be scrapbooked.

How I Plan to Scrapbook 2017

What I’ve Learned from Divided Albums

By using Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories categories as sub-divisions within my albums, I’ve found a freedom to follow my creative intuition. Some stories are so tiny they are captured with a cookie’s fortune stapled to a filler card. Other stories are so grand they deserve multiple pages of attention. But by creating these jewel-box collections of stories within a single album, each woven together by a theme, I’m able to listen to my muse without fear that it won’t “go”.

My albums since 2014 have featured monthly Project Life spreads (under “Things We Do”) along with layouts in the other categories, each using a different size of album. I found 8.5×11 to be so awkward that I switched back to 12×12 mid-year (2015). I’ve enjoyed the pocket pages of 9×12 (in 2016), but not odd-sized layouts. For me 12×12 is best, but your mileage may vary. I deeply believe that this approach (no matter what size or format you choose) can facilitate the creative shift you’ve been craving.

I love how my albums have come together with ease, but I need to admit that I feel restless and ready for a change.

My Album Approach for the 2017 Year

As I’ve considered what to change and what to keep the same for next year, here’s what’s been on my mind:

  • I want to limit my purchases and make a huge dent in my stash. I feel like we’re in a trend plateau at the moment, where color palettes are being refreshed but the overall style aesthetic is not shifting rapidly.
  • At the same time, I’m also feeling pulled to more minimalist designs with even fewer supplies. I’m thinking about photo books, the Project Life app, white borders, and typewritten journaling.
  • Layouts continue to come easier for me than pocket pages, though that doesn’t seem to diminish the deep satisfaction I have from the pocket pages I have completed. I still feel compelled to do both.

Ease is perennially a top priority for me. As much as I love creating, I can all-too-easily get in my own way with mental roadblocks and procrastination. Thus, I’m all about finding the most simple solution that will offer a satisfying experience. I’m always trying to find that intersection between what fills me up and fits my life.

With that in mind, in 2017 I will return to a 12×12 album. I love both 12×12 layouts and lots of 4×6 photos, making this album size (and Project Life Design A) more natural for my creative preferences. I’m also planning to adjust my content strategy, revisiting an approach I tried in 2013: including pocket pages within each category, focusing on the small stories.

My emphasis on small stories within just one category left my album feeling unbalanced in depth. In tandem, dividing my attention between telling stories of a single month and across time left me unfocused. I am eager to capture a broader suite of little details about life right now, while more actively pursuing deeper stories.

To do this, I need to fully shift my pre-album photo organization (collections in Lightroom) and my album planning to consider the four categories. Here’s what this looks like in theory:

  • Each week I will sort photos into Lightroom collections for Things We Do, People We Love, Places We Go, and All About Us. The original image files will remain organized by year and month folders.
  • Every two weeks I will rotate which category is my focus. I will create pocket pages and layouts for the current year, while also leveraging this thematic focus to create something for a previous year’s album.

Honestly, it’s taken writing this post to flesh out the approach in my own mind. I know it’s time to do something different, yet I feel pulled between what I know and some of the stylistic directions I admire. All that said, I feel a sense of contentment about this foundational structure, making it that much easier to trust my creative path will unfold before me.

Questions to Craft Your Own Plan

If you’re not 100% happy with your current process, here are some questions to help you customize your own approach for 2017:

  1. What products/styles are you most excited to scrapbook with?
  2. What size/format has been most successful for you in the past?
  3. What is the simplest approach that would feel satisfying?

Plus, if you would like to learn more about my divided album approach, make sure to follow the link below to download a free PDF guide that explains all the details.

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The New Rules of Scrapbook Projects

Pause just a moment for me, OK?

Stop and think about a project that is not yet finished. Recall why you started it and how the creative process has unfolded.

Has it gone smoothly or have there been false starts and frustrations?

In my book The New Rules of Scrapbooking I encouraged memory keepers to stop banging their heads against the proverbial wall, by intentionally choosing project approaches that feel easier and more fun to complete.

Our hearts will consistently pull us towards more, but we can meet that yearning with solutions. We can lean into authenticity to create with more meaning and make conscious choices that will help us get the most important stories told.

This is the time of year when thoughts of new projects and how to adjust existing approaches reaches a high. But why is it so much harder to follow through with ease, than to dream about the possibilities? The answer is simple: you’re still following the old rules.

So, what’s the next step?

Thinking about new projects? Scrapbooking is easier and more fun when you follow The New Rules.

I’m kicking off a new content series, where I’m going to show you how to apply The New Rules to your scrapbook projects.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll never feel frustrated, but I will promise that you’ll feel more confident personalizing your hobby and more capable of making sustainable decisions.

The series will focus on how to seamlessly combine pocket pages and layouts in a single album, while exploring various tips for finding your own perfect-fit project approaches. Here’s a primer:

1. Your stories will outlive all the trends.

As the popularity of an approach rises, it can feel tempting to follow along with the crowd. By all means test the waters and embrace a playful, experimental mindset, but always turn inward to ask whether this approach fills you up and fits your life.

2. You are the consistency in your projects.

Your life is not perfectly uniform and color-coordinated, so why do you have such high expectations for your albums? Your style, technique, and composition preferences provide the perfect touch of creative consistency to overcome perfectionism.

3. Choose the simple and satisfying option.

With so many options today, it’s possible to select a format (or combination of formats) that’s not only simple, but also meets your storytelling and creative needs. This begins with accepting that your project library may also not be uniform.

Leave a comment and tell me:

What’s the single biggest challenge you have with annual album projects?

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