Tackling Journaling Anxiety to Actually Finish Scrapbook Pages

by | Productivity Advice | 8 comments

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.

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. Brooke

    I have planned for years to do a Photos I Love album for my daughter when she graduates from HS. Early this month I completed the 8×8 album, made the pages with 5×7 photos, cardstock and patterned paper. And I am stuck with the journaling. Should I use quotes? My thoughts on the photos? Reflections on her past? Notes to encourage her in the future? I am seriously stuck. Explaining this to a friend yesterday I realized I am resisting finishing this project because it is such a big deal in my daughter’s and my life. My heart knows that when it is finished she is really a graduate. Irrationally it seems that if I postpone the album, I might postpone her growing up. Of course my head knows that time marches on and I need to finish this gift to her on time for her graduation…which is Friday!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Brooke, I can certainly identify with resistance related to the importance of a project. Have you thought about using a repeated prompt for your journaling on this one? This would fit with the “notes to encourage her future” idea, but give you a specific place to start writing. You pick one prompt and finish the sentence for each page. Here are some examples that would fit here:

      I hope you always remember….
      My wish for you is…
      You are _______. (beautiful, strong etc. – choose a different word for each page.)

      Congratulations Mama!

      • Brooke

        THAT is an excellent idea! I think I like the forward thinking journaling. She knows all of these photos because, being my favorites, I have already made layouts using many of them. What she doesn’t know is my wishes for her future.

        My original Quotes idea is not working out. I gathered a bunch of quotes, but not enough for each page, and some that I want to include don’t really fit well with the pictures. I think I’ll save those for another project for her.

  2. HelenH

    The most important step I took recently is to write before I start the layout. Either on the computer or in a little book I have for notes. And I find that I use memorabilia – and the Internet- for words when I’m ready to add it to the page, I edit the text.
    That’s not to say I don’t have “fear of finishing” projects with the words sitting in the holding area!

    • Teaching Assistant - Kim Edsen

      Helen, I do this too! I’m a self proclaimed ‘fact nerd’ – I love collecting all the little tidbits of information, so will often search online, especially for vacation scrapbooking, to refresh my memory of what we saw and learned about! Plus, I feel like if the words are already written, half the ‘battle’ is won!

    • Ammi

      I have thought about this before, and seeing it again, may actually try it this time. I have so many words and stories in my head but actually slowing down enough to put them onto paper is really hard for me. I have tried to journal a little every day (telling myself it is to practice my handwriting). Sometimes I am prolific but sometimes there’s just no flow and I start cutting corners with ideas and words. When this happens I just stop writing altogether. I am trying to get past this and start with one story I have in mind; write it then apply the photos. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. Terri

    I too struggle as you explained. I liked the idea of using a fact, a feeling and a memory. Easy way to get started and maybe that’s all you might need. I also like the prompt method you encouraged Brooke to consider. Excellent and the prompts could be thought up prior and placed where they fit best! Thank you all. Great ideas.

    • Teaching Assistant - Kim Edsen

      Terri, Let us know if you give either suggestion a try and how it goes!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.


The Simple Scrapper community will encourage and support your unique creative journey.