7 Strategies for Anxiety-Free Scrapbook Journaling

by | Projects & Processes, Storytelling Ideas | 5 comments

Handwriting can be a big source of anxiety for paper scrapbookers. Feelings of inadequacy or fears of messing up a project can be so strong that some scrapbookers end up not journaling at all.

This challenge affects me too because it seems like my handwriting changes from day to day. Fortunately, I’ve learned a suite of strategies that make it easier and less stressful to including journaling on a traditional layout.

It’s important to me to pair my photos with the words that explain the context and importance; it’s important to me to tell my story. Because of this, I’m made it a priority to work past the anxiety and make it happen.

Favorite Things by Jennifer Wilson

In this post I’m sharing 7 strategies I commonly use to reduce creative risk in journaling. These are alternatives to hand writing directly on the background or a major, already-adhered design component of a layout.

Note: If you’re interested in developing your writing and storytelling skills (i.e. the content of your journaling), you might check out The Art & Practice of Journaling mini course.

#1. Journaling on Vellum

I was so glad when vellum came back in style, because it is a useful tool for creating layers on scrapbook pages. I use it often to add journaling. The smooth surface makes pens glide easily too!

Favorite Things by Jennifer Wilson
In Favorite Things I stamped a journaling block six times on a sheet of colored vellum. Each journaling block was fussy cut and then adhered with removable adhesive, in case I messed up.

Go v.1 by Jennifer Wilson
In Go v.1 I printed a long quote on a sheet of vellum to serve as my journaling.

#2. Writing on a Journaling Card

When I transitioned from digital to paper scrapbooking several years ago, I scoured stores for journaling cards to have a low-risk way of including hand-written journaling. Fast forward to today and they’re so easy to find!

Big Girl by Jennifer Wilson
In Big Girl I used a stamped grid card for my journaling and an embellishment to balance a gap in the line length.

The Toddler Day by Jennifer Wilson
In The Toddler Day I journaled on 3×4 grid cards that were cut down to fit the woodgrain tags.

#3. Printing on a Journaling Card

Sometimes I feel nervous about writing on a card, especially if it is one-of-a-kind. In these situations I will type my journaling and run the card through my printer.

Hug Please? by Jennifer Wilson
In Hug Please? I planned the line length to match the other design elements adjacent to the card.

Grandpa & E by Jennifer Wilson
In Grandpa & E I printed my journaling on just part of the card so that it could be layered behind other elements.

#4. Journaling on Tags or Labels

Tags and labels can be used similarly to journaling cards, and even printed-on via the computer. While some are designed with journaling in mind, others may be designed as office supplies.

Sunshine Girl by Jennifer Wilson
In Sunshine Girl I wrote a small bit of journaling on a narrow pink label.

Rockabye by Jennifer Wilson
In Rockabye I journaled directly on a kraft tag that was inserted in a small pocket.

#5. Printed Journaling Strips

One of the most common and perhaps oldest alternative to hand-written journaling is the use of printed strips. Using a typewriter or a computer, lines of journaling can be added one at a time.

Always Our Baby by Jennifer Wilson
In Always Our Baby journaling was printed on a 4×6 photo paper, cut out, and adhered to the background.

Go v.2 by Jennifer Wilson
In Go v.2 I left room on the journaling strips (printed on grid paper) for embellishment number.

#6. Drawing Lines for Journaling

Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to write without lines. While sometimes I’ll do pencil lines and then erase them (especially on journaling cards), more often I’ll draw lines with a journaling pen and a ruler.

Emily & Elmo by Jennifer Wilson
In Emily & Elmo I created a small journaling block that made a home for my words.

Oh So Serious by Jennifer Wilson
In Oh So Serious I used a larger number of lines to keep my journaling orderly.

#7. Hidden Journaling

If other options just won’t work, you can always hide your journaling on the layout. While this is commonly used for more-personal writing, it is also great for eliminating anxiety about the visual look of journaling.

I am Enough by Jennifer Wilson
On I am Enough, the journaling is written on a 3×4 horizonal card and inserted in a vellum pocket behind the photo.

Looks Like Daddy by Jennifer Wilson
On Looks Like Daddy, the journaling is written on a folded notecard inside of the envelope.

In addition to these design-focused approaches, when I do hand-write journaling I also try to create an optimal environment. This includes:

  • Using one of my favorite pens
  • Sitting down instead of standing
  • Practicing my favorite words first

What works best for you may be different, but knowing your favorite conditions will reduce any anxiety and help your best handwriting come out.

Do you think about lowering risks when it comes to journaling on scrapbook pages? Which technique, listed here or otherwise, do you use most often?

Did you find this post helpful?

We believe simple is not how your page looks, but how your scrapbooking hobby works. We have a free workshop called SPARKED and it is the best way to learn more about Simple Scrapper and start creating consistently.


  1. Libby Wiers

    And sometimes, even if I write it out first and copy to the page, I make mistakes. I’ve learned (or maybe I am learning) to cross it out, fix it and let it go that way. Embrace imperfections!

  2. Gab

    Such great ideas and wonderful LOs- thanks Jennifer

  3. Jean Kinney

    I usually type out long journaling, especially for the 2 Before Your Story albums I have almost finished for my kids. Then I hand-write on the cards or layout. I like using paper strips also. For straight lines, I draw them using a ruler and a thin embossing tool, no lines to shoe or erase!

  4. Sharis

    My issue was I would make a perfectly spaced page and then adding the journaling would throw it off. So now I start with journaling and the picture and build/design my page around them. Journaling cards help!

    • Teaching Assistant - Kim Edsen

      Sharis – this is what I do as well!



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