Prompt lists are a journaler’s best friend

writing prompts

Valorie Wibbins smarties. Another Typewriter font.


Journaling is one of those things that scares a lot of scrapbookers. I’ve emphasized many times that ANYONE can write, but I also know that writer’s block is very real. When you feel like you just can’t figure out what to write about, lists of prompts can really save the day! Here are some of my favorite resources:

Looking at a list of prompts will usually spark some sort of memory to get you going so you might want to bookmark or pin this post to refer back to when you are struggling. That’s what I’m going to do!


Don’t be afraid of the letter i

the letter i
Crossbone Cuts Designs Just Quote Me. Book Antiqua & Arial fonts.

I believe in journaling. Sometimes it is a bit of a bother, but I am always glad when I take the time to make a page into a meaningful masterpiece by adding this very personal touch. It is very powerful to journal in the first person. This means you use the word “I” and talk about something in your own voice such as “I went to the store and bought a new shirt. I couldn’t believe it cost $50!”

Here’s an example of my own “I” journaling:

January 2012
Layout by Katie Nelson. Credits: Scrapbook Lady Sixes template, Jenn Barrette & Kristin Cronin-Barrow Everyday Storyteller collab, Typewriter Scribbled font.

The journaling is a collection of my own thoughts about the pictures on the pages. It reads: “I took 12 pictures on the 12th of January of random bits of my life that day. The day started out as a chilly one! I took the thermometer picture with my iPhone and then switched to my Canon point and shoot for the rest of the day. We treated ourselves to pizza for lunch as a reward for finishing our semester finals. Roasted red peppers, feta cheese, & mushrooms – yummy! I took a picture of my new camera case from Photojojo. It’s so felty and cute! We’ve had very little snow this winter. I miss my garden and I’m looking forward to spring. Our patio furniture is all tucked away for the winter. I’m reading The Family Dinner right now. I’ve always been a big believer in the power of family meals and I’m grateful that my own Mom gave us the blessing of eating together as a family. This book has been an affirmation of what I know is important. I love reading cookbooks!”

When you use the first person narrative, you are telling the story in YOUR own words. When crafters talk about putting “their heart” into their creations, I’m pretty sure nobody does this more than a writer. Committing your thoughts and feelings into a tangible form is truly a gift to those you share it with.

I like orange
Layout by Katie Nelson. Credits: Template by Sara Gleason – Daffodil 3 (modified), Edged Out Border by Tracie Stroud, Papers by Kaye Winiecki (say cheese), Dani Mogstad (birds of a feather), Joyce Paul (lemonade stand), Karen Lewis (all about me – digichick collab), Misty Mareda (Organic MScraps collab), iScrap (Organic MScraps collab), Jennifer Labre (color me happy). Century Gothic font.

The journaling is unmistakably mine and brings my voice to life on the page. It reads: “A few years ago, I would have never listed orange as a color that I even liked. In fact, I really did NOT like the color of orange at all when I was growing up. Perhaps it’s because there was so much of it in the 1970’s. I still don’t like the shades of orange that were popular in that decade, but I have grown to appreciate the color recently. One of my favorite blogs is called “How About Orange” and it’s written by a designer named Jessica Jones. She’s helped me realize that orange is hip, vibrant, and full of life. I genuinely like the color orange now. How about that?”

Using the letter “I” makes the journaling more personal. It may feel more difficult to write because there is nothing to hide behind… you are sharing what you really think. Don’t be afraid of the letter “I” – it’s an important tool for authentic pages!

baby doll
Layout by Katie Nelson. Credits: Scrapbook Lady Stories template. Wild Blueberry Ink Love Story from The Digi Files #51 March 2013. Arial font.

My daughter will always enjoy hearing my take on this memory! The journaling says: “I still remember going in to check on Riley one night and finding this scene. Her baby doll was right on top of her and she not only had a binki in her mouth, but one next to her hand, and another nearby. I was struck by how much her baby doll looked like her in her jammies. It was touching to see how much love she had for this little doll, and how she must have been cuddling her to sleep. Knowing Riley like I do now, I’m sure that was the case. She is such a sweet and loving person and I love that this photo captures that about her.”

I challenge you to use the letter “I” at least a few times on your next layout. Pour yourself right into the page with your words and you will understand the power of “I” – it’s wonderful!

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The stories you are telling

stories you are telling

Erica Zane See Jane Play

If I ever need a boost in scrapbooking spirits, I love to take a look through our Flickr group. It inspires me so much to know that other people are creating, documenting, and sharing their memories. I love that so many of you are telling your stories! Some of my very best journaling inspiration comes from the layouts I see posted online. Here are a few of my recent favorites and why I love them:

May the 4th by breeoxd – Check out all the everyday details on this page! Work conversations, shopping receipts, pop culture references, and plenty of journaling. This is like a miniature time-capsule of a week in her life.

May the 4th by breeoxd

for more inspiration on scrapping everyday details, check out these posts:

Love you 2 by Teresa Victor. The precious photo and beautiful paper are perfectly paired with loving words from a proud mother. I adore the way she captured the small details that will always remind her of her children at this particular moment in time.

love you 2 by Teresa Victor

for more ideas on authentic journaling, check out these past posts:

No Motivation by Meg B. What a great example to remind us that we don’t have to just scrap about the rosy things in life. Getting feelings out on a page can be great therapy!

no motivation

Need some help with ideas? Be sure to read through these previous posts:

Amazing Max by breeoxd. The flags, the splattered background, and that cute dog, all make this page fabulous – but my favorite finishing touch was the photo of the “good citizen” report. Even if you don’t want to scan something to use on a layout, just take a picture of it!

Amazing Max by breeoxd

For more ideas on including important details on your pages, be sure to look through these posts:

Balance Beam by potatoejam is such a fun page with a big emphasis on the photo and words. I love the blending on the picture and the great page composition.

Balance Beam

For tips on making your stories and photos shine, check out these previous posts:

Flowbee by neeceebee – I love the bold graphic feel of the lettering and color scheme on this layout. Great capture of the memorable events of a week in the life.

Flowbee by Denise

For more resources to help you include the real moments of your life, check out these previous posts:

Childhood Memories by elseepe – say “hello” to older memories. Don’t let any more time pass without jotting down some of your own childhood experiences. Your memories are precious!

childhood memories by elseepe

For more ideas on how to capture the past on a page, check out these related posts:

Next time you start to feel like you don’t have the time, energy, or desire to scrapbook, take a look through some of the pages that others are creating. You will be inspired by the stories they are telling and if you are anything like me, you will start longing to tell your own!

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Let your paper do the talking

paper can tell the story daily digi

The Good Stuff by Digital Design Essentials. The Dry Ribbon by Heather Joyce.


Have you ever thought of using patterned paper to journal your layouts? When Steph and I saw creative team member Ronnie’s layout about her daughter, we knew it was a great idea for a post!

Be Yourself by Ronnie

Layout by Ronnie. Link to credits.


Ronnie was able to tell her daughter an important story without having to type a single word of her own. The paper (from Forever Joy) came designed with those beautiful words already on it.

I started to look around and realized that this is a very easy and super fun way to add a message to a digital scrapbook layout. I love this page by Heddy where the overall theme is emphasized by the words on the background paper.

Heddy spring cleaning

Layout by Heddy. Link to credits.


I decided to try my hand at this technique and I was surprised at how quickly the layouts came together. So easy! As you can tell by the words on the white paper, this page is all about a birthday. There really wasn’t a need to say any more than that as I have an opposing layout with more personal details about the names of the party guests.

happy birthday 1999

One Little Bird Jubilee. Scrapbook Lady Studious template.


This paper had the perfect message to go with a photo of my husband on vacation. It’s always good to see him get a few minutes to actually relax now and then!

Relax by Katie the Scrapbook Lady

Little Butterfly Wings Fun in the Sun.


I absolutely love grilled food and in my house, I’m the one who “mans” the barbecue. I’m pretty good at it if I may be bold enough to say so!

Scrapbooklady Scenic template bbq

Kristin Aagard Backyard BBQ. Scrapbook Lady Scenic template.


Suddenly, I’m finding myself looking at previews with a new eye. I’m on the lookout for wordy papers to give my digi scrapping a fun twist!


How to capture and document the things people say

capture and document the things people say

One Little Bird Designs stay tuned journaling card. Another Typewriter font.


My favorite way for recording something funny someone said is to share it on a social media platform. A few weeks ago, I overheard something my son said that totally made me laugh. I used it as a facebook update and I got a lot of fun feedback from several friends who got a kick out of this:


It doesn’t matter that I didn’t have a photo to go with this post. I can always use this on a page without a photograph, or I can add it as journaling to any layout I want. Even if it only stays on Facebook, or my blog, or is shared somehow with friends or family, it still counts as being documented!


I also use Instagram to record these type of moments as well.

document funny things with instagram

Adding a quote to a picture as you are posting it, is a great way to keep that memory alive. I like to do this with Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, and even in emails to friends and family members.


I think the most important part of documenting the everyday things that are said, is to have a quick way to jot it down. You can use a notes app on a smartphone, keep a notebook handy, use a voice recorder to make notes, or share something online. I wish I had been able to use technology to do this when my kids were younger. Thank goodness I’ve some easy ways to document our lives over the past few years!



It’s easy to think you will remember these words later, but you will probably forget. I’m so glad I took a quick minute to post this silly moment so I could have Alex’s exact words captured and documented. I had totally forgotten about this until I read back through my status updates.



Keep your eyes open for opportunities to document the words that people say. My daughter thinks it’s hilarious to call me “Katie Pants” and now that I have a picture of this sign, I will always have that phrase recorded and shared. I didn’t need to write down her quote, she did it for me.



What if you’ve missed those opportunities in the past? It’s never too late to start. Make a list of quotable material that you remember and save it to a word file or share it in a blog post or online. I immediately thought of this memory and decided to finally write it down even though it happened more than 19 years ago!


Some things stay with you for a long time! Winking smile

Here are a few related posts that might help you capture and document the things that people say:




Picking a point of view to use for journaling

point of view journaling

Sarah Jones say I love you. Arial font.


One of the questions scrapbookers usually have about journaling is “what point of view should I use when writing?” This is completely a matter of personal preference, and I have no problem using several different approaches in my own scrapbooking. Here are a few basics to keep in mind:

First Person Point of View

Grammar Girl says “The first-person point of view is used primarily for autobiographical writing, such as a personal essay or a memoir.” As the creator of a page, I have no problem using the “I” form of journaling. After all, it is me who is telling the story. Here’s a page I scrapped using first person journaling:


Notice the language used in the journaling:

I had the most amazing opportunity to attend CHA this year with Steph from The Daily Digi. Steph arrived at the airport a little before me and was nice enough to wait for me so we could ride to our hotel together. We were roomies and we stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel on the Disney property. We attended a press event in the afternoon and went to dinner with several digital designers in the community. We finally got to meet up with Peppermint (it was the first time we met her in real life!) On Saturday, we walked the show floor together to look for items that would interest digital scrapbookers. We had a meet up on Saturday night for a few local Digi Show listeners and it was so neat to hear how much they enjoy the podcast! It really was an amazing and fantastic experience!

The journaling is all written in my first person perspective. I’m just telling the reader about my experiences and I use words like “I” and “me” and “we” to talk about what I did.

First person journaling is thought to be too personal (and not objective enough) for most academic papers and technical writing, but it’s perfect for sharing memories on a scrapbook page! It is the form of journaling that I use most frequently.


Second Person Point of View

With the second person point of view, you directly address the reader using pronouns like “you” and “your”. I like to use this method for journaling, especially on my children’s pages. It’s like I’m telling them what it was like to be there, or expressing some of the memories they might have experienced. Here’s a layout I made using the second person approach:


See how the writing is directed at my daughter (the intended audience).

Today you spent hours working on the new skill of knitting that you learned the night before at a Young Women‘s activity. You sat patiently in the living room most of the day, knitting rows and undoing them until you got it right. You didn’t even ask me for help (you knew I wouldn’t be able to help you anyway). Lunch was one of the few things you stopped for (just a quick plate of Lynn Wilson Tamales from the freezer). After a time, you decided to listen to your iPod while you were knitting and that seemed to help you focus and stay motivated. You finished a small patch of knitting and decided that it would be a new invention called a “toe warmer”. Your toe was warm from wearing it for the rest of the day. Thankfully, your knitting instructor had given you a website to visit for knitting tutorials so you spent about an hour watching online knitting videos. After your initial success, you started planning out much bigger projects. You were so proud of yourself for learning how to knit. Way to go!

Second person viewpoint is a great way to document memories and personally address the reader.


Third Person Point of View

Grammar girl explains that third person is told from an outside narrators point of view and uses pronouns such as “he,” “she,” and “it”: This is the approach most often taken for academic writing and news reporting. Because scrapbookers are also “reporting” the facts and events on their pages, this is another great method to use for journaling. Here’s one of my layouts using the third person point of view:


I used the information from the official Totem Bight website for my journaling on this page. It is like reading an encyclopedia entry about the place with a lot of descriptive details. Journaling borrowed from internet is one of my scrapbooking secrets that help me document the stories and events of our lives! While it is not as personal, it’s a great way to include the specifics that you will want to remember.

Here’s an excerpt from the page:

With the growth of non-Native settlements in Southeast Alaska in the early 1900’s, and the decline of a barter economy, Natives moved to communities where work was available. The villages and totem poles they left behind were soon overgrown by forests and eroded by weather. In 1938 the U.S. Forest Services began a program aimed at salvaging and reconstructing these large cedar monuments. By using Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) funds to hire skilled carvers from among the older Natives, two things took place: young artisans learned the art of carving totem poles, and totems which had been left to rot in the woods were either repaired or duplicated.

You have my permission to mix it up!

Your English professor might not approve, but I think it’s just fine to switch around your point of view from page to page. You aren’t compiling a master’s thesis or writing a novel…you are putting together a collection of personal memories. I think it’s safe to say that the reader will understand that you were the one who created the pages and that you used a variety of storytelling techniques to capture the memories. They will just be happy that you took the time to scrap!


P.S. Congratulations to this week’s reader, Christine Campbell, who has won $10 to ForeverJoy Designs. Thanks for commenting!

Resolve to improve your journaling


While Steph and I were planning what we want to help you learn during this new year, I couldn’t help but come back to the importance of journaling. Now, please don’t go away if you don’t like to journal! Rest assured, that there are many who struggle in this area. Even someone like me who enjoys writing still has a hard time deciding how to put my feelings onto a scrapbook layout.

Although there are many amazing ways to make your memories meaningful (we have 4 years of archives here to prove it), I honestly believe that nothing will improve your photos and scrapbook pages like great journaling will. Words are a powerful tool! Pick a journaling related skill you want to work on and check out these resources to help you get started.

text to photos

I’ve never met anyone who loves photos who doesn’t want to know how to do this. Whether you’re a blogger, a paper scrapper, or a full out digi fanatic, adding text to a photo is a skill you will want to have.

All you need to do is open a photo in your program (I use Photoshop Elements 11) and then select the type tool.


Choose your font, size, and color


and then you have a photo that can speak for itself! Be sure to save the file with a new name so you don’t overwrite your original photo.


Here are some resources to help:


look good

Adding journaling to a scrapbook page is as simple as putting text on a photo, but you will need to consider spacing, placement, and general design to make it look it’s best.

When using your text tool, pay attention to the font you use, what kind of spacing and leading look best, and how sentences wrap to the next line.


Here are some of our favorite tips and ideas:




This is the one that seems to scare most scrapbookers, but I promise it’s easier than you think! If you take the effort to write from the heart, the page will become a true treasure.

Here are some favorite tricks to use when journaling:

Whatever your new year’s resolutions are, I sure hope that increasing and/or improving your journaling will be a focus for you. I can tell you from experience that the layouts that mean the most to me and to my family are the ones with journaling on them.


katie big

Questions you should ask your family


Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, chances are that you will have some sort of time with extended family members over the upcoming holidays. These gatherings are a treasure trove of information for the memory keeper. I love these opportunities to get to know family better and to learn more about their histories. Even if you don’t conduct official “interviews”, there are plenty of ways to get them talking – all you need to do is ask questions!

Here’s a list of questions that would be good to ask any family member (or even yourself for an All About Me album). You will surely get a lot of scrapbooking ideas and material out of these topics and you will also keep the conversation lively and interesting. Nice bonus!

  • What is your full name (first, middle, last) and are there any special meanings to any of those names?
  • Where were you born?
  • How many places (houses, cities, countries) have you lived? What was your favorite?
  • How many siblings do you have? Where do you fall in the birth order (oldest, middle, youngest)? How did that influence your childhood?
  • How tall are you? How does that compare to the rest of your family?
  • What personality traits did you inherit from other family members?
  • Where did you go to school? What are some of your favorite memories from school? What was your favorite subject? What do you wish you had studied more?
  • Who were your childhood friends? Do you still keep in touch with any of them?
  • What jobs have you held? What were some of the hardest? Which job have you liked the best? What career would you choose if you could start all over?
  • Where have you traveled to? What was your favorite place? Where do you still want to go? Where would you go if time and money were no problem?
  • What are your favorite books, movies, magazines, songs, podcasts, etc.?
  • What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies? Musical instruments? Creative passions?
  • Do you collect anything? What do you like to shop for? What would you buy if you hit the “big time”?
  • What are your favorite foods? Ask about favorite dinners, lunches, breakfasts, snacks, & treats to get more answers?
  • What are your strengths? What would you like to improve?
  • What are some of your earliest memories?
  • What significant news events have had an impact in your life? What do you remember most about certain time periods in history? (1970s, an election, a war, etc.)
  • What do you want others to remember you for?

The questions above can be tailored to work for almost any age group. Be sure to ask the kids questions as well because there answers are always quite honest and entertaining. If you are getting some great stories, just pull out a smart phone recorder or ask to jot down some notes and tell them that you want to remember all the great things they are telling you. Don’t worry about getting every exact word, it’s more important to just understand their experiences and feelings. You will be able to remember enough to make it meaningful for you and anyone who you share the memories with.

katie big

P.S. the title graphic was created with Family Rules by Meghan Mullens.

Inspiration Tracking


Title graphic made using Creative Spark by Digital Design Essentials

Inspiration for a scrapbook page can be found throughout the day. You might be inspired by something hilarious your child. Or maybe you’re reviewing photos and one in particular seems to capture a moment perfectly. Maybe something random, like a song on the radio, reminds you of an important memory to scrapbook.

If you’re like me, if you don’t act on that inspiration by capturing the essence of it, it will be gone.

So, what are some ways that we scrapbookers can track these flashes of inspiration? I brainstormed a few ideas below:

Low-tech notebook

I keep a notebook in my purse and another in my kitchen. As soon as I hear a funny expression from my kids or get an idea for something to scrap, I jot it down.

Running Word document

You can always create a straight-forward Word file and type up quick inspiration reminders in it. My husband tracks quotes from our kids on a file he leaves on his desktop. It’s perfect for me to “borrow” for scrapbooking.



Steph highlighted Evernote on her post here. Try Evernote’s system for managing notes across your platforms.

Microsoft’s OneNote

I’ll admit I’m a bit late to the game on OneNote, but now I don’t want to imagine doing certain tasks without it! Basically, I set up a notebook for scrapbooking and then created virtual pages for future scrapbook ideas. I drop in journaling, pictures, inspiration layouts and more.


You can update your status with a reminder about something that happened. If you don’t want to share it with all your friends, check your privacy settings though. Katie did a great post about how you can use regular status updates as a source of inspiration at a future date.

Blog It

If you do want to share your stories, you can blog them before you scrap them. That way you can simply “lift” the text from your blog post and drop it in your scrapbook page.

Use GoogleDrive

It would seem that GoogleDrive is available on almost every device. You can use it to store documents and access them where you are (and on what device you’re using at that moment). You could create an inspiration document and share it with your spouse or older kids. Then, everyone can update it with funny quotes and memories.

Spring Pad


If you’re not familiar with SpringPad, you can learn all about it on Katie’s post Why I Love Springpad. Although I mostly use it to “spring” web sites (which is like bookmarking them or pinning them), you can also take notes in SpringPad.


If you have a photo, you can describe the associated memory into the metadata of the photo itself. Then, when you go to scrap it, you can lift the text right out of the metadata. You can write to your metadata easily in Photoshop, Lightroom, or even via Windows 7 explorer.

Windows 7 Sticky Notes

Add sticky notes to your desktop. This one could get your desktop a bit cluttered looking though!

There’s An App for That

I would just have no idea what it is! As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have a smartphone so I’m not “in the know” on these things. Check out your phone’s app store and browse the organization category. You may just find the right solution for you.

Email It to Yourself

You could send yourself an email with the story you want to remember. Just file the email in an memory folder to revisit later.

Rely on Your Memory

Just kidding! Winking smile


Just the fact that I’ve made a note of a memory makes me happy – it’s simple, but effective memory-keeping. Hopefully I’ll get around to scrapbooking these ideas, but if not, at least I’ve documented the memory. That’s the most important part for me.

I’m sure there are many, many more ideas out there for tracking notes and ideas. The trick is to find a system that will work for you and that you’ll enjoy using.

What did you do this summer?


One of the most frequently used journaling prompts has to be the “what did you do this summer?” question. I remember at the beginning of almost every school year, being assigned this topic by a well-meaning teacher. Unfortunately, I came to despise the question after several years of having to write an essay because of it. Now that I have the perspective of a few years behind me, I can appreciate why it’s a great journaling exercise.

Whether it’s summer, winter, or any specified block of time, it’s a useful practice to take some time to process the events you’ve experienced during that time. Now, instead of having to write a paper for the teacher, you can create a fun digital scrapbook layout just for you!

Need some inspiration? Here are some fantastic “what I did this summer” type pages.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to go to India? Not only did justjess take a great trip, she helped out a lot of people at the same time!



The creative approach to journaling on BushGirl’s page is so much fun! You can’t help but read it because you want to know the answer!



Following a prompt like this one, is a great way to tie a bunch of otherwise unrelated photos together. KyRainbow included various summer memories together on the same cute layout.



It’s a great time to report on the accomplishments of the specific time period. Misty Cato listed all the books her son read during the summer of 2009.



Don’t feel like you have to write about everything you did this summer. Laurie just highlighted her favorite summer memory on this cheery page.



Need help remembering what you did this summer? Try these tips to jog your memory:

  • Look back over your calendars for the specific time period
  • Interview your kids, spouse, parents, friends, etc. and ask them what they remember
  • Look through your photos taken during that time
  • Look through the galleries and see what scrappers are journaling about
  • Just start writing – you’ll be surprised at what comes to you once you get started

Now’s the perfect time to record those summer memories before they fade away!

katie big

P.S. The title graphic was made with Sabrina’s Creations celebrate summer sticker and Too Much Paper font.