5 TIPS for Doable Scrapbooks!

Edited 2.11.19 // Thank YOU to everyone for playing along!
As I was preparing dinner tonight, I sat my son, Chase down at my computer, pulled up all of your comments, and said, “Read these, and pick your FAVORITE” He did and he chose Sue, who lives in Mt. Vernon, VA. I asked him why and he said, “I picked her for two reasons. One she lives in VA, where I sold pest control last spring and two, she wrote this: The pictures along with the story are what’s important and no one can tell YOUR story better than you!
I knew you would really like that part Mom!”

The creative process that I have used FOR YEARS when I want to feel productive in my scrapbooking has been through many iterations. The first time—out of necessity—that I stumbled on it was when I decided on the morning of my 15th wedding anniversary that I wanted to create a 6x6 scrapbook for my husband and give it to him … that night. I needed to work fast and get it done! That was 2004.


In 2005, I began writing the book, The Big Picture and I had to create a LOT of new pages and projects that had never been seen before. I remembered my success with Geoff’s anniversary book and decided to use that approach again with pictures from a marathon that my sister and I had run together.

Not long after that, I was tasked with creating a new class to take on the road for events. It felt like a HUGE risk, but I decided to outline this sure-fire album making adventure thing and attempt to teach it to other people. I just about had a panic attack on the airplane thinking of all the ways in which I might fall flat on my face with this project, but gratefully those fears did not manifest. I did make most of the scrappers very nervous however and there was signficant resistance, but I pushed through and when my students were actually finishing an album in record time, their attitudes changed from disbelief to delight and Finish Line Scrapbooking was officially born.

I share this back story simply because since it’s most recent evolution as the Short Story kit for Close To My Heart, I’ve had several questions in person or sent via email, text message and social media, wondering WHY the steps are the way they are—some disbelieving people want to tweak or skip entirely a few of the steps, but I always tell them, these steps are the very reasons WHY this process works so well AND HOW it creates such relief.

So, without further delay, here are FIVE tips for making scrapbooks more doable. If you want to work fast and get a project done, set these parameters!

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ONE: Use a Small Album
6x6 albums are small. They are NOT intimidating. You don’t have many options when it comes to picture placement and you clearly do not need to be any kind of designer to arrange elements in a pleasing way—there just isn’t a lot of room for indecision.

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TWO: Under Plan
Generally when we scrapbook, we like to have some kind of design scheme or page sketch or something to follow. But you don’t have to have a plan. You can just start with pictures and pages and follow your gut. When I teach a Short Story class, we start by cropping all of our photos first. This is called batch work. You sit or stand with your pictures and your paper trimmer and you play some upbeat music for 5-10 minutes and do ALL the cropping up front. Naturally, you don’t need to crop every photo—you choose a title photo and remember that there is plenty of room for a few additional full sized 4x6 prints. But, since you’re working in a small album and you want to include dozens of pictures, you do need to resize most of them. AND, you will save buckets of time by cropping everything at once.

When you begin assembling the pages, you simply put 1-2-3 or maybe even 4 photos on a piece of 6x6 cardstock and set it aside. Then repeat that process until you have a bunch of completed pages. You can add a little pattern paper if you want to, but at this point, a page is DONE when pictures are stuck down with or without pattern paper. We are so used to overthinking that this approach—which embraces intentional under-planning is 100% liberating. The first page you assemble, might end up being page 9 or page 3 or page 14 in your finished album and watching that unfold is a blast.

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THREE: Limit Your Product
I don’t think this reason needs a ton of explanation. We ALL know how much time we can spend looking for just the right products to use. The Short Story kit has been designed to work with everyone’s photos NO MATTER WHAT. There are enough colors and patterns—designed to coordinate—that you can truly document any type of photo or subject. I say this, because over the years I’ve seen this. From weddings to Disneyland, this kit has got you covered.

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FOUR: Set Time Limits
Let’s hear it for a deadline! Short Story invites some good old fashioned fast-paced FUN. When I teach this class live, I set timers for cropping and page assembly and I invite those involved to shout out a BIG Woo-Hoo each time they finish assembling a page. You will be surprised how quickly you can work when common barriers to intuitive creativity are removed. It is exhilarating!

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FIVE: Skip the Journaling
Ok, so we are NOT really skipping the journaling all together—we’re just condensing it on one page. The Short Story kit features a workbook that asks some key questions up front, which is key to getting your brain in gear. Then, the fact that you don’t have to stop on each page and wonder how much space to leave for journaling— and the even more important fact that you don’t have to stop and think and draft and write—means you get to spend time reliving the fun AND as you subconsciously celebrate these pictures and witness them coming together so effortlessly, you are priming the memory pump. Once pages are complete and put in order and you’ve flipped through them to identify and correct any balances issues and then reviewed them yet again in the process of adding a few fun and directional decorative accents—YOU will know what you want to say and you’ll be able to write up a one-page summary, which in an album this size is perfect!

In this video clip I review these FIVE tips again in the context of a Short Story album dedicated to my 4 Boys!

Here is my story summary. click on the image to enlarge and read.

Now. Here’s where it gets really FUN today. Cassidy, the social media manager at Close To My Heart created a Short Story album recently about her everyday life as a newlywed. I LOVE it. You can see it here.

I want to give away a Short Story kit, but you’ll have to do a little work first: Go read the blog post about Cassidy’s album and then come back and tell me either something new you learned or something that you were reminded about telling personal stories. I’ll put all qualifying comments in a drawing for Monday, February 11th.