5 Journaling Strategies For Times When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

credit: sxc-iprole

I always liked to write. I made up stories as a child and when I was old enough, I actually put some of them down on paper. There have been different times in my life when I’ve even thought about writing the great American novel. (Maybe someday.)

Journaling was one of the things that really drew me to scrapbooking in the first place. I’ve always kept journals and I had been taking photos since I was a kid. Strange that it never occurred to me to combine the two things until I saw a scrapbook for the first time.

I believe that it’s important to include our stories on our pages. We are ideally suited to tell them ourselves and thanks to scrapbooking, we can do it creatively. But sometimes, I just don’t feel like writing. It could be because I don’t have a specific story to go with the photo, the page is really cute and I didn’t leave room for the journaling or I’m simply not feeling it. It happens.

If you ever feel the same way, here are some easy strategies that might help you journal when you don’t feel like writing:

Create “Random” pages

A few years ago, I started creating what I call “Random Observations” layouts. (I credit the idea to former Garden Girl Shelly Sullivan who created Random Advice layouts for her daughter.) My two nephews are prominently featured in my scrapbooks, but I only see them once or twice a year. My sister-in-law is great about giving me all of her .jpg files, so I have tons of photos. But I don’t know the details…where they were, what was going on, what happened in the car ride there, how my nephew got a split lip, why my nephew is sporting a mohawk…etc.

I could certainly ask the details, but I’ve come to discover that they aren’t necessary. I’m scrapbooking these photos for me, I’m not scrapbooking to document their lives. Instead, I can scrapbook fun photos but I don’t need anything more than a random observation.

Jot down story ideas when they happen

Whether it’s in a notebook you keep in your purse, a file on the computer or you write them on your blog every day — when you have twenty minutes to spare, write down the funny everyday life stories when they happen. If you try to force yourself to remember that cute story in the midst of creating, it might paralyze you. There have been many layouts that I’ve had to walk away from because I was trying to force the journaling and got frustrated when it wasn’t flowing. If you have a running list of story ideas ready to go, the perfect photos will eventually come along.

Create a list

Remember this classic line, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? If you don’t have a story about the photo, come up with a list of words about the event or person just by looking at the photo. The ideas are endless. You could use one of the titles below and journal on strips. Examples:

  • Character traits
  • Favorites
  • Today you or Today we
  • What I love about you
  • Thanks to you
  • Thankful for
  • Top 10 ___________

The 5 W’s

If nothing else, at least create a list of the 5 W’s — who, what, where, when and why. It does not have to be wordy. You can write it out in a paragraph or just list each one on separate journaling strips. Cover the basics and call it done.

A sentence can qualify as journaling

Really. If a simple sentence can convey the feelings of the photos and there’s nothing deeper to add, one sentence is enough. That’s not ideal all of the time, but if it takes a layout from the “To Do” pile to the “Complete” pile, mission accomplished.

Not every scrapbook page needs to have three paragraphs of deeply meaningful journaling. I love those pages just as much as the next scrapbooker, but some days, I’d just need to get some pages completed. If you are having a day where you’re just don’t want to write, use one of these strategies to help you along.

If you are looking for ways to improve your journaling, check out Masterful Scrapbook Design this month. January’s topic is journaling and Debbie always presents a number of resources throughout the month, including a detailed seminar, galleries with layout examples and interviews with designers.

What is your favorite quick journaling technique?


  1. Great tips.
    I think I am still going to write the great Canadian novel, when I get the time, teehee.

    • Oh, another aspiring author? I think there are a lot of us out there. I just lack the disipline to actually make it happen. Can’t stay focused on one thing long enough.

  2. cool tips..

  3. Awesome tips Tammy! I think you would make a fabulous author!

    • Ah, thanks. Never say never! 🙂

  4. I love the “Random” idea! For me, I always start with the 5 W’s and go from there. So far, it never fails to get the words flowing. That, and lists.

    • I love lists too. If I can’t come up with anything random, I can usually come up with some kind of list. I love to get a good story down, but it’s good to have other options when that’s not possible. 🙂

  5. I really like the idea of the Random pages! I haven’t had a ton of time to check out the info for the Masterful Scrapbook Design yet, but hoping next week to take some time to peruse it all.

    • Thanks! I think it could work in all kinds of different situations. Sometimes you just want to scrapbook some fun pictures….well, for the fun of it! LOL. 🙂

  6. Such great tips! Love the “random” tip and the reminder that a sentence can be enough “journaling”. Thank you!



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