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Tackling Journaling Anxiety to Actually Finish Scrapbook Pages

Do you have a stack of layouts that are 99% complete and just need journaling to be complete? This is a common, and often quite personal, struggle among paper scrapbookers that I don’t see talked about enough.

Whereas the stack of photo-less layouts you created at a crop reflects a disconnect between design and meaning, this phenomenon of stopping just short of the finish reflects something deeper: anxiety.

What I see is anxiety about handwriting, about choosing the right words, about the page design, and more broadly, anxiety about putting finished work into the world.

Do you have a stack of layouts that are 99% complete and just need journaling to be complete?

I’ve been fighting against this kind of anxiety since I became a scrapbooker and some of my best ideas can be found in this post. You don’t have to keep adding to that pile of unfinished layouts.

If handwriting is the source of your stress…

I shared my best suggestions in this recent episode of Simple Scrapper Live, including:

  • Why it matters which pen you choose,
  • The ways in which I practice my handwriting,
  • Clever tricks for Plan B  (in case you mess up), and
  • When I turn to the computer for help.

If getting the words out holds you back…

Even though I spend my days writing, I know how frustrating it can feel to be unsure of what to say. In most of my scrapbook journaling I write just 3-4 sentences that include a fact, a feeling, and a memory. I use the literal details of the photos to ask myself why this story matters and how it connects to other stories in my life.

Here are two examples that illustrate the ease of this technique. Try to identify the fact, feeling, and memory for each. You can click each image to enlarge it in your browser.

Tackling Journaling Anxiety to Actually Finish Scrapbook Pages Tackling Journaling Anxiety to Actually Finish Scrapbook Pages

Both handwriting and storytelling anxieties can be manifestations of an underlying perfectionism. This can also crop up when designing the page’s layout or as a feeling of general unease about journaling right now. The deeply personal nature of scrapbooking only intensifies a need for your projects to be blemish-free.

I’ve consciously worked to embrace the beauty of my journaling just as it comes out, and to intentionally seek imperfection as an recognition of its value. Acknowledging that you have anxiety about scrapbook journaling is a simple and healthy first step.

Want more strategies to get your journaling done? Check out 7 Strategies for Anxiety-Free Scrapbook Journaling from our blog archives as well as The Finishing Project from our course library.

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Scrapbook Clutter & the True Price of Digital Freebies

You don’t have to be involved in digital scrapbooking very long to recognize the massive quantities of freebies available for download. You’ve likely stumbled upon freebie blogs and directories as well as come upon many goodies at shop sites. Unfortunately, hard drive space is limited and you can only scrap so many layouts a day.

Over the years, I have begun to approach my scrapbooking as a sorta-minimalist. I crave order though my natural tendency, as with many creative people, is towards disorder. I love the things that mean something to me (and many do), but I become easily overwhelmed with clutter, especially scrapbook clutter.

Yet I’ve battled through these contradictions to find systems that work for me, including (what some might call) a drastic approach to scrapbook freebies – both traditional and digital.

A couple years ago I wrote somewhat of a manifesto on the madness of digital freebie hunting. I beckoned you to curtail your habitual stashing in favor of more moderate approaches. I feel even more strongly about this now – and it also applies to that great deal you scored on a giant stack of patterned paper five years ago. Scrapbookers today are so blessed with many choices and endless sources of inspiration, but we’re also drowning and thus, finding ourselves less able to document and create.

Learn new techniques for decluttering your digital freebies & scrapbook stash

Today I share some of my best techniques for managing your scrapbook clutter.  It includes tips on how to pare down what you already have as well as a plan to maintain them.  Use these suggestions to help you reduce the stash and begin making room from what matters most – documenting your memories.

My New Scrapbook Stash Guidelines

To escape this burden, I’ve found myself contented by self-imposed, fairly strict guidelines for managing my scrapbook stash:

  • I treat “free” and “on sale” the same as full-price.
  • I bring in only what I will love and use within the next 3 months.
  • Every 6 months, I let go of all that is unused and older than 1 year.

I came to this approach after spending hours upon hours organizing my digital scrapbook supplies, only to find that I had not (and would not) use a majority of what I had amassed. When I could have been making or capturing memories, I was effectively rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I was wasting my time. I decided enough was enough.  No more scrapbook clutter!

What this means is that I don’t hunt for freebies at all and that if I find a free (or even on sale) item, I consider whether I’d be willing to pay full price for it. If the answer is no, then the question is off the table.  A “no” answer means I don’t really love the item and I definitely don’t need it.

I use this mindset to acquire only products that fire up my creative juices and get me scrapping right away. Through regular (and ruthless) purges, I am no longer bogged down by guilt over my stash. In understanding what freebies were costing me, I discovered the true value in staying organized and clutter-free.

How to Declutter Your Scrapbook Stash

Are you finding yourself drowning in scrapbook freebies?  If so, now is the time to stop the madness.  Here are three practical and easy ways to begin paring down your collection so you can truly enjoy and use what you love most.

1. Be honest with yourself: This is by far the biggest hurdle in scrapbook clutter management, whether digital or in-real-life. Take a good hard look at what you have and truthfully answer,

  • “Will I ever use this?”
  • “Do I really need this?”
  • “Is this adding value to my life?”
  • “Do I already have an item that is very similar?”
  • “Is this item something I can see myself using again and again?”

2. Kick emotion to the curb: Just because you downloaded it, doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Don’t let guilt run your life – even if you’re wondering whether to delete a product you purchased with good, hard-earned money. Use the questions above to divorce good organization from worry and emotion.

3. Play favorites: Think of decluttering as a process of unveiling greatness, not of losing stuff. Ever gotten excited when all of your favorite new clothes are clean and waiting for you? Focus on what you gain by being able to scrap with your favorite products, without having to wade through all those supplies you ignore again and again.

A Scrapbook Organization Plan You Can Stick To

So many free digital scrapbooking goodies and so little time – it’s awfully easy to let your downloads folder become overrun with clutter, like unopened zip files and awkwardly labeled folders. Establish a basic organization system and use it always to control the download chaos.

To start, establish your downloads folder as your inbox. From your download inbox, every new supply should be moved into one of three folders: temp, freebie and purchased. (Creative Team members may wish to add a fourth category.) Like with an email inbox, your goal is always to reach zero. Empty.

Regardless of whether or not you use a folder system or leverage the power of software to organize your scrapbooking supplies, this kind of simple top-level category system is essential. Use the temp folder for 1 kit calls and challenge sketches. If you loved the item after scrapping with it, move it to your freebie folder. If you didn’t, feel free to trash it. It really is OK!

The freebie folder is where your new goodies will live, but don’t forget to tidy them up first. This folder should only contain files that meet the following criteria:

  • Are items that add personal value to your digi-stash
  • Are properly labeled with the designer and kit name
  • Are tagged to YOUR organization system, however detailed that might be

There is no one right way to organize, but even the most simple of systems can make finding that fun alpha or perfect paper all the easier.

Finally, surf through your digital freebie stash on a regular basis to purge items you no longer like. Consider it a must-do, like cleaning out your closet. You’ll find a sense of clarity and lightness that only decluttering can offer!

How to Maintain Your Digital Freebie Stash Going Forward

It’s easy to get sucked into the satisfaction of scoring a sweet deal, especially a free one. However, it is super-important to consider the intangible costs to your sanity. Set some limits for your freebie hunting. It might even be helpful to implement one or more of these rules to gain control:

  • Don’t hunt for freebies every day
  • Create a one-in/one-out rule
  • Require immediate tagging/organization

Remember getting control over scrapbook clutter takes time. Start by only choosing the best of the best when it comes to those freebies.  Then begin taking a good hard look at what you already have.  In time, you’ll find it easier and more enjoyable to record those memories using a more manageable scrapbook collection.







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Hybrid Project Life Album Process

At the end of last year I was feeling burnt out on scrapbooking.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our community and this hobby. I’m in it for the long haul and am excited to see how our industry evolves in the decades to come. But after 8 years of creating (much of it on display for the world), I was tired of the anxiety I continued to feel.

I’m planning on digging into this further at the next Simple Scrapper Live, but I have some serious handwriting hang-ups.

While I do wholeheartedly believe in embracing imperfection, I have to be having what I call “a good handwriting day” to complete a scrapbook page. If I’m not, my brain and hands don’t work well enough together to make the letters.

This challenge has led to me creating less consistently than I really wanted. I have stories to tell and time keeps on passing.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

In this new post I’m sharing more about my decision to do hybrid Project Life pages in 2017 and the process I’m using to make spreads. I’m even including a peek at my first pages with this approach.

Why I Switched to Hybrid Project Life for 2017

In last week’s Simple Scrapper Live I shared the three reasons why hybrid scrapbooking makes sense for me in 2017. Hopefully my story above explains a little bit more about the anxiety I feel about handwriting and scrapbooking.

I’ve embedded the video here, in case you haven’t already watched the 15-minute segment.

Beyond that stress was also a need to switch things up for variety’s sake. I’d been doing pocket pages consistently since 2011, but only used my computer for the journaling a few times.

While I certainly don’t lack for Project Life supplies, when the idea for hybrid popped into my head I instantly felt relief. It just made sense in my current season of life.

How I Use Lightroom for Project Life

You don’t need to use Lightroom (or any photo management software) to do Project Life the hybrid way, but it is a key part of my process.

Step #1: Organize Assets
I started by creating a collection set for Project Life 2017 and another collection set for each month (02_February, for example). Then within that collection set I have three collections: Plan, Cards, 3×4 Photos. The Plan collection is my working folder of candidate images and supplies. Final choices get dragged to the appropriate collection for ease of printing (see Step #3).

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Step #2: Plan Spread Design
I set up a Lightroom print template that matched Project Life Design A so that I could visually plan out my spread.

Download Project Life Design A Lightroom print template.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

I love being able to drag photos and supplies into each cell until I get a composition I’m happy with.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Step #3: Print Photos
With all of my assets selected, I started the process of printing. My 4×6 images were printed directly from Lightroom. My 3×4 images were collaged 2-up using a Lightroom print template and then printed from Photoshop.

Download 2-up 3×4 on 4×6 Lightroom print template.

Step #4: Export, Journal, and Print Cards
Printing of the journaling cards is similar, but requires one extra step. I started with a print template where I could collage my supplies onto an 8.5×11 canvas. These pages were exported as JPG and brought into Photoshop. I journaled directly on the large images before sending them to my printer.

Download Lightroom print template for 4×6 and 3×4 cards.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

Tool Tip: The photos were printed on Canon 4×6 Semi-Gloss Photo Paper Plus with my Canon PIXMA Pro-100. The journaling cards were printed on Epson Double-sided Premium Presentation Paper Matte and cut apart with my Rotatrim Paper Cutter.

My 2017 Project Life Pages (So Far)

We were well into 2017 when this approach finally clicked for me. I didn’t want to get started with a new album just because the calendar turned over to January, so I waited it out.

After seeing some beautiful hybrid pages on Instagram and thinking “I wish I could have that clean look.”, I took the plunge. This spread took about 90 minutes in total.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

(click to enlarge)

I used five 4×6 photos and three 3×4 photos, along with three 4×6 cards and five 3×4 cards. All photos were from my phone and edited with Lightroom. The black and white images were also processed with RadLab using Milk and Cookies.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

My biggest surprise with this new process was how much more I typed than I would write by hand. It took me back to my days of digital scrapbooking, where I admit, I told more involved stories.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

My Ali Edwards Story Kit embellishments are some of my favorites, so being a scrapbooker, I had to add just a few to complete the page.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

It was fun to be reminded that I only need my printer in order create “patterned paper” for scrapbooking. While doing that on a large scale is not efficient, for these small pocket it makes a ton of sense.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

I see Project Life as a snapshot of our life through my eyes. My layouts will often include different perspectives, but these pages are more “mine” than the others. I’m thinking of including a selfie each month.

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

I’m just as guilty as anyone about making scrapbooking more complicated than it needs to me. The simplicity of this card in particular reminded me of what I value most in this hobby.

Questions to Ask about Hybrid Project Life

My approach to creating hybrid Project Life pages in 2017 won’t be for everyone. If you’re intrigued, however, it is my hope that you pause to ask yourself why. What might need to change so that you can feel even more excited to create? Here are some good questions:

  • What reasons do you have to make a change?
  • Do you have the technical skills or are you willing to learn?
  • Is there an even-better option?

Download free templates for creating a hybrid Project Life spread using Lightroom and Photoshop.

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How to Start Digital Scrapbooking

I recently hosted two live broadcasts on Facebook about digital scrapbooking. The first focused on the “state of the craft” and how digital fits into the larger industry. The second connected my new rules of scrapbooking to digital crafting, focusing on how the choices you make can lead to feeling unmotivated.

Both were geared more towards women who have some experience with digital scrapbooking, so I wanted to take a moment to step back and focus on how to get started with this approach. Here are some of the basics to help you start digital scrapbooking:

How to Start Digital Scrapbooking

What is digital scrapbooking?

Digital scrapbooking is the creative process of uniting photos, words, and supplies using your computer. The end result can look much like a traditional scrapbook page or quite different, depending on the scrapbooker’s tastes and preferences.

Where can I buy digital supplies?

My favorite 100% digital shops are The Lilypad and Sweet Shoppe Designs. If you like Ali Edwards, she has a variety of digital supplies as well. (If you have a favorite, leave it in the comments below.)

What software should I use for digital scrapbooking?

Most digital scrapbookers user Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements to create scrapbook pages. Photoshop is more sophisticated and can be purchased for as little as $9.99/month. Photoshop Elements (commonly referred to as PSE) is more user-friendly and does not require a subscription payment.

How do you use layered templates?

Layered templates are one of the best ways to get started with digital scrapbooking. The key to using digital scrapbooking templates is understanding layers and clipping masks. This video tutorial from our archives can help you get started:

Are there apps for digital scrapbooking?

Your computer is best suited for creating digital layouts, but the Project Life app is a popular solution for creating pocket-style pages.

How do you print digital pages?

Completed digital pages are generally saved as a JPG file and then printed with a mail order service like Persnickety Prints. Many digital scrapbookers prefer to print individual pages rather than waiting to print an entire bound book.

Where do you store digital items?

Digital scrapbook supplies are files, generally JPGs (digital paper) and transparent PNGs (embellishments). Thus you would store them like any other files on your computer, in folders. I prefer to store my photos, digital supplies, and digital pages separately.

What is hybrid scrapbooking?

Hybrid has always been a catch-all to mean a lot of different ways of using your computer for scrapbooking. Printing a word art overlay on a photo is technically hybrid. Today I’m seeing the most hybrid work being done with printing Project Life cards.

How does Lightroom fit into this?

Adobe Lightroom is photo management and editing software. While you can use this software to organize digital scrapbooking supplies, and even create photo books, you can’t create layered scrapbook pages with Lightroom.

How do you start digital scrapbooking?

The best way to begin is by practicing and finding additional answers as you need them. If you would like to take a class, I recommend Digital Scrapbooking for Beginners at Scrapaneers. It’s free!

Have a question about how to start digital scrapbooking? Leave a comment below.

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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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