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How to Junk Journal When You’re Overwhelmed

Junk Journal

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If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you might be in situation I’ve found myself in once or twice before – especially when I was first starting out.  

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That situation looked like me dreaming up a junk journal theme, going to the store to buy crafting and junk journal supplies, coming home and making a few arrangements here and there and then getting frustrated because it didn’t work. I’d start telling myself I’d “come back to it”. Then weeks would go by and I hadn’t touched it. And then coming up with a new idea and repeat the whole process over again.


I ended up with a table full of supplies and very few finished junk journals. And while I absolutely feel like collecting your supplies and organizing them is half the fun of junk journaling, I started to feel like I was failing when I wasn’t creating very many finished projects.


And when I was starting out, there was also the intimidation factor to deal with. I joined a bunch of junk journal groups and followed a lot of YouTubers and Instagrammers who junk journaled. It was great inspiration, but I immediately started comparing my work to theirs.


Sound familiar? Maybe a little?


If you’re at that point in your crafting journey, don’t despair. It happens to almost all of us at one time or another, and you can get through it!


I’ve got a few tips for getting through your junk journal crafters block and getting back to having fun with them!

How to Junk Journal When You’re Overwhelmed


Stop Comparing Your Junk Journals to Others


Seriously. Comparison is the thief of joy. I’m not sure who said that originally, but it’s very true. Especially when you’re just starting out and experimenting with junk journaling as a art medium, you need time to spread your wings, to learn techniques, to try and fail, and try again. You cannot compare your first or even your 20th journal to someone elses 100th or 200th journal.  


They’ve had time to test, try and recreate their methods. They’ve learned from others. They’ve probably taken a class or two on bookbinding. They’ve probably upgraded their junk journal supplies a time or two, and bought that fancy new printer or die cutting machine.  


You’re learning and you’ve got to give yourself time to learn.  Even the junk journalers who are experts are still learning, and I bet if you compared what they were making a few years ago to what they are doing now you’d see a huge difference.


And that’s the only comparison you should be making.


When you make each junk journal – is it getting easier? Do you feel more comfortable with it? Do you feel a little more proud of your work each time? I’ll bet the answer to that is probably yes.


If you feel like you’re still learning, try our ultimate guide to making a junk journal. It walks you through each step of the process, slowly and thoroughly with video guides along the way.


Forget the Junk Journal Themes


I’ve mentioned before around here that I really like working with junk journal themes when I put my journals together. I find them inspiring, and I find it helps me make a more “cohesive” journal.


But when I am frustrated or stuck, I throw the themes out the window.


I gather a bunch of odds and ends, usually out of a side pile of things I said I’d find a use for “someday” and I challenge myself to make a journal out of them.  If you don’t have any that you’re willing to spare for an experimental journal, head over to our resource library and print some junk journal printables out and go from there!


I allow myself to put them together however I feel like in the moment. I don’t worry about planning it out or what the flow of the journal will be. I just let myself free form create whatever I’m feeling in the moment.


It’s very liberating to just make art for arts sake, and just let yourself have fun with it. I”ve even found that I come up with new techniques and ideas this way.


Don’t Show Your Next Junk Journal to Anyone Else


Create a journal with the intention of NOT sharing it.  No showing friends, no sharing on social media, don’t even show it to the family or friends you live with!


Create a journal that’s for your eyes only.


Sometimes worrying about what other people will think, or like or say makes us second guess our own artwork. It makes us question ourselves and it makes us change the outcome because we worry about pleasing other people.


This can really stunt your imagination and creativity when you’re working, and can lead to real frustration.  


If you’re stuck in a rut and you think that might be part of the problem, try creating a journal you don’t plan to show anyone.


Try all the things you’ve been wanting to try but feared that you would “mess up”. Experiment with the new art supplies you just got that you aren’t sure how to use.


Make the Junk Journal You Want To Use


If you’ve ever checked out my YouTube channel or any of the posts around here, you’ll notice that I tend to create more “clean” looking journals. It’s what I like for a variety of reasons, but for a long time I felt like I HAD to tea dye my papers.  I had to make them in a shabby chic fashion. I couldn’t use bright colors… The “had tos” went on and on.


I wanted my journals to look like everyone else’s because that’s what other people loved, so if I wasn’t making them that way I was making them “wrong”.


And frankly, it’s just not true!


You don’t have to do anything when it comes to do junk journaling.


There is no wrong way to junk journal.


Seriously. I want you to read that again and again if that’s what’s holding you back!


I’ve seen gorgeous journals of every shape, color, style and design you can imagine. They’re all unique and gorgeous in their own way.  Some of the journals I appreciated the most were techniques I would have never thought of or tried myself.


Make the junk journals you want to make. I guarantee you’ll find others who will love them too.


I hope this helps if you’ve been feeling stuck or intimidated. I know I’ve been there and I know how frustrating it can be.


Do you have other tips I didn’t list here? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

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  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Oh my goodness! I sure needed this post! Bless your heart! I DON’T do a journal, because I get overwhelmed with all I HAVE to do to make it perfectly beautiful!!! Seeing and dyeing and on and on! I am going to grab a handful of stuff and just put it together the easiest way I know now! Ahhh…I feel like I’ve been set free!
    What a wonderful message!
    I appreciate it so much! Once again, thank you! 💗💗💗

    1. I’m so glad it helped! I know I’ve been there myself and it can be so frustrating. We have to not let perfection get in the way of creating!

  2. Thank you so much for this post!! I am brand new at junk journaling and I was becoming overwhelmed and feeling way out of my league of crafting. I love scrapbooking but those books are already made. Making the book was overwhelming me. This helped out alot. It helped so much that i wrote these in my junk journal under how to and rules page lol. I was feeling that my journal wasn’t pretty enough or odd enough.

  3. Thank you!! I may not make mine but the even the ones I purchase I feel I am not doing things right in them. Too I feel I dont have a lot write about and like to glue more. So this encourages me to do what I want to do. 😁 Thank you again

  4. I am so happy to have found this! I only discovered Junk Journaling a few months ago, and have been collecting so many various items from different sources. The hunting and gathering has been fun- but that’s ALL i have accomplished because I am afraid to do it wrong.” Thanks for the inspiration to give myself permission to just DO IT.

  5. You’re so right. It is hard to tell yourself these things in the moment though. I always try to remember this though — fixing a page that you don’t like almost ALWAYS turns out way better than the original was meant to be.

  6. Hi Thank you ,as like everyone I to get overwhelmed ,just looking at other peoples work I wonder why mine doesn’t look like theirs . I go out and buy so much stuff , then get lost in organising it to suit . So thank you again for breaking it all down to enjoy your creations and not get caught up in what others have done.

  7. Like alllll the other comments I too sooo appreciated this insightful, liberating, article! Spot on for me as a newbie for sure!

    I’m inspired to go create “my own” create🥰

  8. Loved reading this….im very fortunate to be able to sell my journals ar a weekly market, but with Christmas looming, i have had a big dip in confidence about what Im making, this has helped tremendously, thank you 🙏

  9. Thank you for doing this post, as I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed too! I just finished doing a Little Golden book for my Grandson for his 6th birthday coming up Christmas Eve. I’m starting a new scrapbook sort of one for our new grandson due the first week of December 2021. I just received some new mixed media items, and a Geli pad, but haven’t played with them yet. I’m surrounded with things to play with, but feel overwhelmed to start! I appreciate your words of wisdom xoxo Gillian

  10. Awesome post. I am just trying out this craft. And am comparing my work to those on social media. Your advice is perfect for a beginner.

  11. Great post! I have found that collecting, trimming and just getting ready is the way to go. Then making signatures, filling them with my treasures makes me happy. So, beginners, just start collecting anything that catches your eye. And get the glue out!

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