Photo via kozumel on Flickr.
Photo via kozumel on Flickr.

If you’ve considered getting into scrapbooking, you’ve probably had the chilling experience of sitting down in front of an open book, with a blank page staring back at you, and thought, “Oh no. I have nothing to say. I am a ruthlessly dull individual.” But, says author and scrapbooking superhero Lain Ehmann, your problem is actually quite the opposite — you’re a remarkable person, with oodles of interesting stories, photos, and experiences… you just can’t decide which ones are the best fit.

“I think that the problem is not that we don’t have enough stories, I actually think that when we look at it through the right lens, we have too many stories to capture. Because everything in our life is scrapbook-worthy,” Lain explains. The hardest part isn’t that you’re boring — it’s that you need to narrow your focus.

To unblock your creativity, Lain recommends thinking like a detective, and asking yourself questions to start getting a better idea of the feelings you’re having and the experiences that you might want to capture. Who do you see every day? What do you love about the people around you? Which parts of your life do only you know?

“Think about your life, your story, your day, with a little bit of an objective eye,” Lain says.

Borrowing other people’s story ideas is another great place to look.

“Whatever you enjoy talking about is what belongs in your scrapbooks.”

Shows you love, stories from others that you like to listen to, or exchanges with others that were meaningful to you can all help stir up ideas. Love TV programs about roadside diners? Begin documenting your trips to other roadside diners. Love to cook? Make a combination recipe book/scrapbook with photos of you cooking and cards featuring your favorite dishes to make. Or, maybe it’s more personal that that; what stories did you love hearing from your mother, your grandmother, or your family friends? Share those kinds of experiences.

Another scrapbooking tip Lain offers is to search for points of change in your life and focus on those. It’s a method she borrowed from calculus.

“One thing I always look for is the critical inflection point,” Lain says, “which is where things stop going down and start going up. There’s one particular point where things change.”

Moments like first meetings, births, first days of school, graduations, or going-away parties can all be big milestones in your life, which serve as moments of reflection. They also have the added bonus of, most likely, having been photographed. But even if you don’t have photos of the exact moment that something happened — like the moment you decided to run a marathon, or move to another town — you can still shape the story around the time period or event.

“We don’t always have photographs of them, because we don’t know that they’re happening. Also, it’s hard to take a photo of a decision. But it’s not hard to tell that story.”

Learn more about story-based scrapbooking from Lain Ehmann’s class