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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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The New Rules of Scrapbooking

The New Rules of Scrapbooking is now available, only on Amazon! It’s my 5th book and this one feels much different. New Rules represents what I’ve observed and learned about this hobby in the eight years since Simple Scrapper’s launch, offering hope and advice for today’s scrapbooker. Crafting with your photos can be simple.

The New Rules of Scrapbooking

Get the book on Amazon for just $2.99 FREE through September 5th.

I want this book to start a new dialogue about our hobby, so after months of closed-door work on this project, I’m excited to begin connecting with you. This morning, I hosted a Facebook Live session and I’ve embedded the recording for you below. New Rules will also be our Book Club selection for November.

What are the “New Rules” of scrapbooking?In this video, I’m sharing 5 rules every scrapbooker needs to know, the story behind my latest book, and answering the most common questions.

Watch the video, then get the book FREE on Amazon:

Posted by Simple Scrapper on Friday, September 2, 2016

The New Rules of Scrapbooking

Frequent Questions

How long does the free book promotion last?
The New Rules of Scrapbooking will be free on Amazon through Monday, September 5, 2016.

Do I need a Kindle device to read the book?
No. There are Kindle apps available for both iOS and Android as well as the Kindle Cloud Reader, which allows you to read any book you have purchased directly in your web browser.

Is the book available outside of the United States?
Yes. If you have trouble purchasing the book, visit your country’s Amazon site and search for “The New Rules of Scrapbooking.”

Will the book be available in other formats?
Yes, but later. At the end of this year, I will release audio and print options for the book.

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What Modern, Simple Scrapbooking Actually Looks Like

My latest book, The New Rules of Scrapbooking, is now available on Amazon. Get a free copy through September 5th.

What you really want is to get photos off your camera and into the world, to a make your memories real. You take photographs because moments matter—and scrapbook them so you don’t forget why. The creative process elevates that desire to a joyful, fulfilling experience.

But if our needs are ultimately simple, why do we perpetually feel so overwhelmed? I believe it’s because we’re attempting to apply outdated scrapbooking expectations and “rules” to today’s world. Even those who already embrace a slower, more intentional lifestyle have trouble keeping pace with the sheer quantity of photos.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

In Nobody Wants to Be a Rebel I explained why it’s time to rewrite the rules of scrapbooking. But what actually happens when we do that? Today I’d like to paint a picture of possibility for you and illustrate what modern, simple scrapbooking actually looks like.

1. It starts with photos.

Scrapbooking is by default photo-centric, but the rapid influx of photographs today means that we must expect and plan to spend time doing image management. The system for handling photos is no longer simply a stepping stone for getting them into albums, but is instead a cornerstone component of the scrapbooking process.

Because the vast majority of those images will never be “scrapbooked” in the traditional sense, we must look upon our digital photo libraries as the most complete record. Photo management is scrapbooking.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

An extension of this concept is continual attention on the photo library as the best and most meaningful source of inspiration for taking a creative next step. But as a consequence, the photos do not themselves represent a checklist of pages to create. The onus is on the memory keeper to be selective, to curate highlights of their family’s story whether in albums, photo books, or on the walls of a home. Visible evidence of prioritizing photos includes:

  • Reducing creative expectations or taking on fewer projects to preserve time and energy for photo management.
  • Routinely redirecting attention towards learning, maintaining, or improving systems that support the photo library.
  • Celebrating photos in all forms and formats without judgement of whether it “counts”. It all counts.

2. It embraces impressionism.

In The Scrapbooking Rule You Must Break I introduced the idea that, out of necessity, we are 21st century impressionists. Following in the footsteps of renowned 19th century painters, today’s scrapbookers paint pictures of life “with broad strokes” that capture as much emotion and meaning as they do reality. Because there are more photos and stories than we could ever scrapbook, we must value how each glimpse documented adds to the big picture.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

The impressionist mindset goes beyond a rejection of “caught up” though, as it seeks opportunities that purposefully simply the process while retaining a sense of depth. It invites the scrapbooker to look at her hobby more holistically to ensure that it’s really meeting her needs. Visible evidence of impressionist scrapbooking includes:

  • Choosing a project format for each story that maximizes enjoyment and practicality.
  • Balancing attention between everyday details, big milestones, and meaningful stories.
  • Allowing words and visual symbolism to take the place of scrapbooking every photo.

3. It focuses on stories.

A direct consequence of not scrapbooking everything is a natural emphasis on storytelling. But whereas the concept of impressionism broadly calls our project and process decisions to demand balance, a focus on stories counters a more specific unwritten “rule” of the hobby: that our objective is to capture the facts of each life event. Thus a story-first approach to memory keeping doubles down on the impressionist directive of adding meaning to the picture, making it worth it’s own point.

More plainly, using stories rather than events as a basis for scrapbooking makes going deeper more intuitive. By asking “why does this matter?”, examining personalities, or discussing feelings, we invite our brains to do what they’re best at: make connections. And while facts are certainly still important, we must use storytelling to add a deeper level of satisfaction when we can’t possibly capture it all.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

But let’s be clear: focusing on story when creating scrapbook pages and projects don’t necessarily mean more journaling, though of course it can. It’s about looking first to the underlying meaning to guide the visual and written elements of your creative effort, to maximize the effort you’ve invested. Visible evidence of story-first scrapbooking includes:

  • Identifying why a photo (or group of photographs) is significant or meaningful to you.
  • Including more feelings and memories along with the facts in your scrapbook journaling.
  • Finding the through line between photos from different time periods or places.

4. It is personalized.

We have more options than ever for documenting our memories, but instead of focusing on what works best I see too many scrapbookers attempt to do it all. I understand the temptation to try new approaches (and I do recommend testing the waters), but too much dabbling only contributes to feeling unfocused and overwhelmed.

Instead we must leverage the array of choices to intentionally personalize our hobbies. If impressionism means letting go of capturing every detail, personalization is the selective re-addition of what matters most to you. You get to precisely determine both what your finished projects and the process of creating them looks like, down to how much is “enough” for you.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

We all naturally desire personalization and often take steps toward it, but it is here where “the rules” often prompt second-guessing. That’s why I spend so much time writing about, talking about, and leading you through the process of making your hobby a perfect-fit. I want to give you both the tools and the encouragement to genuinely trust that you know what’s best. Visible evidence of personalization includes:

  • Working in continuity from a clear-but-flexible framework in lieu of always seeking the greener grass.
  • Choosing not to use a project format if it doesn’t work for you, even if you think the products are pretty.
  • Listening to yourself (what you know, your gut/intuition) when making each project or purchase decision.

5. It is guided by life.

Each month, season, and year are different. There are ups and downs, ebbs and flows. Your interest in and motivation for scrapbooking will shift along with the tide of your life. We must look at our albums as treasure chests, ready for each gift we are able to add, and stop looking on them as unfulfilled obligations.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all and when you start writing your own rules, memory keeping can truly be simple.

When you let your life gently and intentionally guide your scrapbooking, you’ll find creative flow with less effort. And when projects have that natural, perfect-fit feel you will be more likely to finish them. Instead of paddling against the current much of the time, you can let the current make it easier to move forward.

The reality of this means that sometimes you will scrapbook a lot and at others you won’t create anything at all. During some seasons you will invest your energy into projects that require thought and details and during others you will find solutions that are good enough. Visible evidence of letting your life guide your hobby includes:

  • Accepting that you are no less a scrapbooker if you don’t scrapbook for a period of time.
  • Choosing to scrapbook longer time scales with a smaller or more condensed approach.
  • Taking time each season to align your mindset, plans, and expectations with your life.

Scrapbooking in the modern era is not one-size-fits-all. Your projects can be graphic or fancy, paged or pocketed, fast or thorough, frequent or rare—but it’s when you start writing your own rules that memory keeping can truly be simple.

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The Scrapbooking Rule You Must Break (Even Though it’s So Hard)

This is an excerpt from my 5th book, The New Rules of Scrapbooking, now available exclusively on Amazon.

Scrolling through my photo library, I am reminded of moments big and small that I’d love to scrapbook. For any memory keeper, there’s no shortages of pages to make and projects to complete. The only real limitation is time.

But no matter how many productivity hacks you implement, there’s simply a finite amount of it. In The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry says that “in order to really thrive, you need to shake yourself of our collective obsession with time efficiency and learn instead to focus on effectiveness.”

Thus, faced with an increasing quantity of photographs, our only choice is to be selective. It’s not about scrapbooking faster or with more skill. We simply cannot scrapbook it all.

This desire to document life in a complete way is natural. We can lean into authenticity to create with more meaning and make conscious choices that will help us get the most important stories told.

You’ve heard this before, I’m sure. As a community we’ve made progress over the past decade on embracing this concept, at least outwardly. Our brains can rationalize why you must pick and choose, but our hearts long for completion. The “rule” that you must scrapbook it all is as much as natural desire as it is a norm.

This stuff matters and we deeply feel, perhaps even a grief, for the stories that will go untold. Even those who have embraced simple solutions want to feel closure on each year, that you did it justice. I believe it’s possible to achieve that satisfaction while also accepting the reality of the modern world.

We Are 21st-Century Impressionists

The 19th century art movement that included Monet, Degas, and others sought to paint the world as if you only caught a glimpse. They emphasized light and life right now, in a single moment. They were considered radicals.

I believe scrapbookers should wear the hat of modern-day impressionist, painting a picture of our life with broad strokes. We can’t document it all, so instead let’s offer a glimpse that captures not only the facts but the feelings.

By Claude Monet - EwHxeymQQnprMg at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain,
Woman with a Parasol by Claude Monet

Let’s create simply so as to most effectively capture what’s real and true. Impressionist scrapbooking looks like:

  • Leaning on the skills you have to create with ease.
  • Embracing your handwriting with every imperfection.
  • Choosing just one or two photos to represent a memory.
  • Not making a project more complicated than necessary.
  • Thinking about why this particular story is significant.
  • Knowing when to let a photograph be what it is.
  • Relying on tried-and-true techniques and supplies.

The #1 Trick to Not Feeling Guilty

“OK, that sounds easy enough,” you say, “but how do I actually eliminate that nagging desire to feel caught up?”

Whether you’re just beginning to embrace this mindset or are a seasoned pro, feelings of guilt will almost certainly arise. This desire to document life in a complete way is natural. So my answer to you is “Actually, you don’t!”

Yet the impracticality of scrapbooking every photo means choices must be made. The trick is in choosing projects, formats, and approaches that help you feel more caught up. This is what scrapbooking the Simple Scrapper way is all about.

When you choose the one or two photos for a layout, you can pair it with a longer paragraph or page of journaling to add details. You can even add an insert or a second page that includes a photo collage.

When you choose to frame your favorite photo of a child, you can celebrate that memory each and every day without feeling challenged to create a layout that measures up.

When you choose to create a photo book for a vacation instead of a traditional album, you can offer the reader a visual tour of your entire experience that captures the core meaning.

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.

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