The Finishing Project: When You Don’t Know What to Say

I’ve said it a time or two that my exchange album, which I’m working on for The Finishing Project (a class offered at Simple Scrapper), is a few years old. It has it’s origins back in 2001. That kind of means that I have forgotten some, ok a lot, of the details of the experience which leaves me with a common problem – not knowing what to say. I’ve developed a few tricks over time to help me out with being stuck on journaling.

This double page spread is supposed to tell a little bit about my friendship with these two guys I went to school with Grant and Jean Paul but fourteen years later I am so sketchy on the details that I remember little more than their names (sorry guys) Obviously they were important enough for me to include originally but right at this point in time I’m at a loss. So my first point of call is seeing what clues the photos themselves will yield. If it was just a single page spread in my chronological album this could help me pinpoint the time period the photo was taken in. The location the photo(s) was taken at and possibly if it was at an event, what that event may have been about. All of which could be included in the journaling and spark some ideas about common interests. However given that this section in my exchange album is all about my school friends the immediate clues are of little use to me since it’s already kind of a given that I know the year, location and even what day they were taken on (my last day of school) which has little bearing on our friendship or their individual personalities. In other ways unfortunately these are a little nondescript. What a I can tell from these images are that they were taken in an area just off the cafeteria (which may or may not have been referred to as the commons) that had a bulletin board of notices, three or four soft drink machines (seriously what is with all the soft drink my American friends?) and had booth style seating next to a large window that looked out on the car park. So yeah not a great yield for journaling prompts.20150320_1TFPDontKnowWhatToSayHere’s where story starter technique number 2 comes in. Using supporting documentation. For some projects maybe you have ephemera from the same event a postcard, a brochure, a map or whatever. Maybe you had enough forethought to jot a note or two in your diary or planner or some random notebook. My first point of call for this was to see if I’d made any notes originally in my album plan – no such luck. Second point of call, my high school yearbook – Bingo. First I  looked for them amongst the class sections which led me to finding last names and therefore a means of finding them throughout the rest of the yearbook doing other activities. Unfortunately all that revealed was next to nothing, they were both in the class beneath mine and apparently some of Grants friends had unique dress sense, not really a plethora of information. I suppose that means they weren’t exactly the kind of guys that were into extra-curricular activities either, although the unique dress sense certainly tells me who our mutual friends were so surprisingly that does give me something to go on.20150320_2TFPDontKnowWhatToSay

Now here’s where, depending on your subject matter, you can take your research further afield and go for a random act of info sourcing and take it to a search engine. Subject matter totally makes a difference in how you approach your search. If you’re lost on what to journal for a regularly occurring holidays, the sky’s the limit for finding information to fill your journaling. What was the most popular gift, costume, drink, clothing item, past-time for that holiday that year? What else occurred on that day in history? Do you have your own personal history link to that day? What were the news headlines, fuel prices, price of a loaf of bread at the time? Who knows what you’ll turn up. But if you’re at a loss for journaling about a specific person you always have the somewhat stalkerish tactic of googling them or looking them up on Facebook, which is what I had to revert to, to see if I could find some extra info. Hit for one of the guys total miss for the other. Oh well, it would seem that I am destined to have very little info on my pages.20150320_3TFPDontKnowWhatToSay

Here is where a little Finishing Project wisdom might come in. One of the things Jennifer talked about in the class material was making course corrections. That will mean a myriad of different things depending on your project. Sometimes it means honing or narrowing your original vision and making it smaller and more manageable. Sometimes it means including more or less information, not including the things you’d intended to include because you can’t for whatever reason realize your original vision for the layout. Sometimes it simply means letting go of it completely. For this particular layout I didn’t want to completely remove the layouts from the album because what else would I do with these photos/layouts. I decided the necessary course correction was to only have very spartan journaling. Despite my best efforts I really couldn’t find out much that was of any use to me. So apart from a little bit of text and their names I just had to make this the kind of layout that is more about the design than the words.

Do you have your own take on how to handle layouts that you still want to scrap but have little to say about the subject matter?

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