Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

May 7, 2008

words + photos : wednesday

Today I want to focus on the words.

  • What if you collected stories the same way you collect supplies?
  • What if you did your journaling first, rather than last, in your creative process?
  • What if you began paying attention to your life in a way that enabled the stories to free-flow from your fingers onto the page?
  • What if you encouraged your kids (by example and through encouragement) to be the kind of people who grow up telling their own stories?
  • What if you truly valued your individual story and life experiences and were brave enough to share them with others?

Ae_observations

[ this is scrapbooking : part of a series on Simon's journey from Life Artist ]

I am one of those people who actually enjoys the process of adding the written story to my layouts. I begin most of my pages with something to say or a specific story to tell. Sometimes the words have been thought out (or written out) in advance and other times they are gathering together as I am grabbing my supplies and printing my photos.

Overall, what do I want to say?

  1. I want my stories to be real. Real to me means that I leave a part of myself within each story. I want to leave evidence of my existence in the words I chose.
  2. I want some stories to be long and complete. I want other stories to be quick – maybe just a few words to complement a photo that really needs few words to communicate a message.
  3. I want to tell stories that celebrate our everyday life as well as stories that deal with our challenges.
  4. I want to grow as a writer. I know that writing helps me know myself better.
  5. I don’t want to be bound by fears of misspellings, grammatical errors, etc. I just want to tell my stories.
  6. I want my stories to show that I was paying attention to my life.

What do you want to say?

Ae_macjournal_2

[ MacJournal screenshot ]

How do I keep track of the stories I want to tell?

  1. Blog Posts : I have talked some in the past about using your blog posts as the content for your layouts. This has become routine for me. Remember you don’t have to create a public blog – most programs give you he option of creating a private blog. Writing while you are living through an experience (even everyday life) is completely different than going back and trying to document something after the fact.
  2. Not all our stories are shared on this blog. Many of them go into a program I use called MacJournal. I use it to keep track of daily thoughts, stories, lists, etc. I have folders for me, Chris, Simon, Family, etc. Many of those words will end up on a scrapbook page or in a minibook. An easy way to do this if you don’t have a Mac is to set up a Word document (or a folder with other topic folders inside) just for stories. Keep it on your desktop for easy access. Does anyone have a journal-type program they recommend for a PC?
  3. I also carry a Moleskine notebook with me for on the go thoughts. Over the last couple of weeks I think I finally made the move to one notebook (it was just getting to crazy with too many random books).
  4. If my notebook isn’t with me I have also been known to use my phone to jot down story ideas as well.
  5. I don’t write everything down. I tell stories I am inspired by at the moment. Sometimes I will be reminded of something to document at a random time – this is when a notebook or a computer file really comes in handy for jotting those things down before they are gone.

Grandpa

[ from A Designer's Eye for Scrapbooking ]

Writing techniques:

  1. Start each sentence in your journaling with the same word. In the layout above about my Grandpa I used a bunch of choppy sentences that say things such as, “A family man. A farmer. An educated man.” Inside the pocket is a note he had written me. Another favorite of mine was a minibook recently where each page began with the word “sometimes.” There is no right or wrong for documenting your stories with words.
  2. I journal both on the computer and by hand for my layouts and projects. It often depends upon the length of the story and how much I care about getting the details right. I tend to be more organic when I write by hand (both in sentence structure + overall feel) and more structured when I use my computer.
  3. Make friends with your thesaurus. I refer to my computer version often.
  4. I aim for a combination of feeling + fact. Sometimes it is heavier on one or the other but in general I like to include some of both. The facts ground the story and the feeling gives it heart.

Lifeisforliving

[ from CK  Studio A February 2007 : read the journaling from a blog post here ]

Things to keep in mind as you focus on the words:

  1. You only have to tell one story at a time. Tell one story. Move on to the next one.
  2. Break your story down into manageable chunks. Some stories are super overwhelming. Where do you even begin? When you are documenting a story remember that you don’t have to start at the beginning. Start in the middle. Start at the end. No one will ever know where you began your process. Write the easy part first and then move on to the tougher portions (or vice versa).
  3. It’s ok to begin a project without knowing what you are going to say. It’s ok to create layouts that  have just a few words. Often the process of creating the page can help you identify what is most important and what you want your words to communicate. The key is to make sure you add that story before you move on to the next project.
  4. Keep writing. Confidence comes with practice. Confidence comes with accepting your own personal voice.
  5. Everyone has their own issues related to writing. It is a very personal thing. Telling our stories is a very personal thing. Identify your own biggest writing challenge and begin working through it. Practice and patience with yourself are a couple things that will help you tackle those issues.
  6. Your family will thank you for taking the time to include the words (even if you are not there to receive the thanks).

Dottedline

[ The full words + photos series can be found here: monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday. ]

Comments

  • 51.
    Debby said…

    This is totally awesome. I’m certainly going to put a lot of what you blogged into practice. Again wonderful wonderful.
    I love story tellers. As a child I use to listen to an old AM radio I hid underneath the pillow on my bed and ear phones on and listen to stories. I also fell in love with the story telling style of Garrison Keller. I love stories and I want to be able to creatively write my own. Thanks for the tools.

  • 52.
    Naomi said…

    Ali, as usual your words are so inspiring. I wonder do you know the positive impact you have. Thank you so much.
    I too struggle with my journalling and one thing that I have found helps when I am stuck with how to start the story is to use a quote from whoever the layout is about. Sometimes it is easier to write your own words when you follow someone else.

  • 53.
    Hazel said…

    Really love this series of posts.
    BTW, Mariner Software have published a Windows version of MacJournal. It’s called WinJournal.

  • 54.
    Taryn said…

    So, I’m behind on following along this week, because I wanted to go through your posts when I could have time to really absorb all you’re sharing. Thank you Ali, for sharing your thoughts on all this!
    Wanted to toss out something I started doing a few years ago…I keep an “I remember journal” that is about my childhood. When something triggers a childhood memory, I document it in my journal starting each memory with, “I remember…” My dad found my journal (I leave it sitting out.) once and was in tears just reading my simple memories and know that those little things were meaningful to me. I hope my children will feel that way about the journal one day.

  • 55.
    Taryn said…

    So, I’m behind on following along this week, because I wanted to go through your posts when I could have time to really absorb all you’re sharing. Thank you Ali, for sharing your thoughts on all this!
    Wanted to toss out something I started doing a few years ago…I keep an “I remember journal” that is about my childhood. When something triggers a childhood memory, I document it in my journal starting each memory with, “I remember…” My dad found my journal (I leave it sitting out.) once and was in tears just reading my simple memories and know that those little things were meaningful to me. I hope my children will feel that way about the journal one day.

  • 56.

    I’m going to agree with the masses on this one— THANK YOU!

  • 57.
    Rhiain said…

    it is so useful to read your guidance on journaling and stories. i always feel that (having no kids) that my life seems very dull if you looked in my albums as there is very little there + then a whole bunch of pics from a holiday! But in actual fact my life is extremely busy as i am a teacher. I want to include this in my lo’s but you can’t take a camera to work (i have taken pics of my classroom etc when i have left jobs but people think its really wierd!). So i guess what i’m tyring to say is you have inspired me to do lo’s with little or no pictures and capture the real emotions (however unpleasent) of my REAL everyday life.
    Thanks Ali

  • 58.
    Michele said…

    This is one of the most helpful blog posts I’ve ever read! Thank you!

  • 59.
    Coleen said…

    Your words + photos series has re-enforced a lot of things/points for me. Thank you!

  • 60.
    Susana said…

    I just read this section of your blog. Often I don’t have time to read every post but I am so thankful I took time today. Of all the scrapbook “tips” I have read, for me, this has to be the one that will make the most impact. I hate writing in my books, but after reading this section I feel inspired. THANK YOU! I now have a focus!

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