Handwritten or Typed Stories

This entry is part 7 of 86 in the series Scrapworthy Lives Results

Last week, I told you about the importance of writing your story. Your story can be written in your own handwriting or typed up and printed out from a computer. If you are a digital scrapbooker, you can even have your handwriting turned into a font so that you can get your own handwriting on your layout. Heck, you could even do what Gretchen Rubin did when she created photobooks, which was write her captions directly on her printed pages.

What’s the difference between handwriting and typed writing if the story is the same? Using one’s own handwriting provides a personal touch (Kelley and Brown 2005). Others suggest that being able to see another family member’s handwriting is meaningful to them.

It is no surprise that scrapbookers struggle with telling their story (or journaling) (link to post about words), but scrapbookers also struggle with handwriting their story.

One scrapbooker in my study struggles with handwriting her story because she does not like her handwriting. Part of the problem here can be attributed to the scrapbooking magazines:

Respondent: I don’t write pretty, so I don’t journal a lot.
Interviewer: So if you wrote prettier, do you think you would journal more?
Respondent: Probably. Probably, you know, I don’t know if you get any of the scrapbooking magazines or not, but Ali Edwards has some of the prettiest handwriting I have ever seen.


It is unknown how this scrapbooker felt about her handwriting prior to reading the magazines, but the fact that the magazines mainly show scrapbook pages with pretty handwriting does not encourage her to use her own handwriting. Scrapbook magazines are like other women’s magazines in that they hold out archetypal models for readers to aspire to and when women do not fulfill these expectations, they feel badly about it. Industry leaders argue that readers should treat scrapbook magazines like fashion magazines, use them for inspiration but do not let them prevent the reader from scrapbooking. I agree to some extent. Just because I do not look as fabulous and pulled together as the women in the fashion magazines spreads does not prevent me from wearing clothes or accessorizing; however, scrapbook magazines are significantly different from fashion magazines in that they showcase real layouts by real scrapbookers. Some do a better job than others about disclosing when a layout is completed by a semi-professional scrapbooker (someone who is working on a design or creative team, for instance). It is quite clear in fashion magazines when a person is being showcased, who has zero connection to the industry. This boundary is incredibly blurry in scrapbook magazines (and idea books and on many blogs).

What do you think? I’ve got a couple of big questions in this post. First, do you use your own handwriting to tell your story? Second, do scrapbook magazines, blogs, and the like make you feel bad about your scrapbooking? Feel free to share below in the comments section or join the conversation on twitter or facebook.

References:
Kelley, Ryan E. and Charles M. Brown. 2005. “Cutting Up with the Girls: A Sociological Study of a Women’s Scrapbooking Club.” in The Eastern Sociological Society. Washington, D.C.

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Stephanie

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  • Yes, I use my own handwriting. But I use to feel my writing wasn’t “pretty enough”. That changed when I received some comments at a crop where I received some positive feedback on how easy it was to read what I wrote. It wasn’t beautiful, flowing script like you see in the magazines. It was simple, clear block printing, like you learned in grade school. I also found that block printing made my journaling a lot easier for my children to read.
    There is so much in scrapbooking magazines to make someone feel less than, or like if they buy just the right thing, they too can have the ultimate layout. I think real scrapbooking is all about documenting history — telling the story. It doesn’t matter how pretty your handwriting is or how much pattern paper you use or how many doodads you put on your page. Does it tell the story? Is it easy to look at and read? If so, you’ve succeeded.

  • I do use my own handwriting. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. But I don’t compare my handwriting to other’s handwriting because it’s never going to look like theirs. It looks like mine. Period. Same goes for scrapbooking. My pages are different than Ali’s and different than Stacy’s. I wouldn’t want them to, I want my pages to be like ME. It makes me sad to read how other scrapbookers do compare their work to the “celebs” and don’t think it measures up. Who is ever going to know if it does or doesn’t and who exactly sets that standard? I have to think that maybe they aren’t in it to document their lives and to tell stories. They are looking for some kind of validation in general. When it’s about the photos and the stories and it comes from the heart, it doesn’t matter what the pages look like.

  • I do use my own handwriting. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. But I don’t compare my handwriting to other’s handwriting because it’s never going to look like theirs. It looks like mine. Period. Same goes for scrapbooking. My pages are different than Ali’s and different than Stacy’s. I wouldn’t want them to, I want my pages to be like ME. It makes me sad to read how other scrapbookers do compare their work to the “celebs” and don’t think it measures up. Who is ever going to know if it does or doesn’t and who exactly sets that standard? I have to think that maybe they aren’t in it to document their lives and to tell stories. They are looking for some kind of validation in general. When it’s about the photos and the stories and it comes from the heart, it doesn’t matter what the pages look like.

  • Stephanie Medley-Rath

    Great advice! Yes, does it tell the story. That’s what matters. I would still love to improve my handwriting. (I really do have bad handwriting. It’s not just unpretty, but often difficult to read). 🙂

  • Stephanie Medley-Rath

    Nice point. Yes, you do want your pages to look like you, warts and all (not that you have warts…hopefully, you get my point). That being said, I do get a bit envious of folks (like Ali) who have gorgeous handwriting. I’m sure though that if I just slowed down and practiced my penmanship it would improve. I type almost everything outside of scrapbooking so I have very little incentive to work on it…who knows…maybe this is another summer project for me to work on. 🙂

  • Caroline Davis

    I rarely use my own handwriting in my journaling, but that has less to do with whether I think my handwriting is “pretty” or not.  I don’t love my handwriting, but it’s okay.  I normally type my journaling for spacial reasons, story flow and because I tend to drop words when I write – either by hand or with in a word processing program.  Word processing allows me to tell the story more completely, rearrange elements of the story when I realize I’ve left out an important detail, and change the size of the font and margins to make the story fit.  My pages tend to be very journaling rich and it’s more important to me to tell the whole story than concern myself with whether future generations will think my pages impersonal because of the lack of handwriting.  My own grandmother kept a scrapbook and used her own handwriting to “caption” the photos – telling little more than names and dates.  I appreciate her handwriting, but what I miss is not knowing the story.

    Just my 2¢ on the topic.

  • Good point. As long as the story is there it doesn’t matter how it appears (handwritten or typed). I hadn’t typed journaling up in a long time, but this last week I did twice. I tend to do it more when I have a lot to say or it needs to fit tighter space. I try to mix it up and do a little of each. Thanks for commenting!