Hello lovelies and welcome to Lesson 07! Let’s chat a bit about a potentially controversial topic: when to chuck a project and start all over again!

How do you know when to start a layout or a project over again? When is it ok to ditch something you created? It can be almost painful to even consider that, when you’ve invested time and energy and money into something and it didn’t turn out like you wanted. I wanted to take time in this class to talk about this aspect of memory keeping (or any hobby). Be sure to check in the Workbook for some really excellent questions we can ask ourselves in order to make wise decisions!

In this class I want to share with you a bit of my process for redoing my 2013 Project Life Album. It’s the first album I created in the pocket style of memory keeping, so you can imagine that it was a practice and an experience in learning how to do something very different for me. Prior to that I was scrapbooking purely by inspiration: I literally created scrapbook layouts based on photos I wanted to scrapbook at the time, with not much rhyme or reason. To switch to chronological documentation was a big change for me.

But even as I was working on the album, and in the five years since I created the album, I hesitate to pull it off the shelf. I cringe when someone looks through it. There are details about it that, especially with more time and experience, I can positively identify in that project that are cringe-worthy! And it is important, even as I say that, to understand that I am not being critical of my work, I am being objective about my work. So in order to be objective, let’s identify the positive in the project we are considering for rework.

1. Measure success first. What did I do well in this album? There is always merit in any project, so identify that. For me, 2013 was the first year I regularly documented and photographed our family members and kept those memories in this album. I got into the habit of “doing” Project Life, organizing my photos in weekly folders, and the process itself was very successful for me! There was tremendous value just in learning how to do pocket pages. For me personally, I consider my 2013 album to be practice and it was a great experience that led me to create 6 more years of this style and still going strong. How awesome is that?!

I want you to practice for yourself viewing your work simply for the creative work that you’ve done. It is enough to sit down and express yourself creatively, even if no masterpiece came out of that. Every act of creating is valuable, even if you throw it away at the end of the day. Even if you learned what NOT to do. Even if you rework the whole thing. Your creativity has merit and value. 

Once we have identified the positive, let’s look objectively at the project. Let’s identify, without disparaging our work, what it is about the body of work that we want to do better next time.

2. What is it about this body of work that made me unhappy? Doing this can be potentially destructive, so let’s practice doing this objectively rather than purely negatively. I have strong feelings about the word hate, so you won’t often hear me say I hate that layout or I hate that album. How we each create our layouts and albums is each uniquely our own work and therefore it will forever and ever look like our work. So I want you to practice embracing your work and using positive language around your own work.

When looking at a project you are considering redoing, I want you to take a step back and think about how you feel overall about the project. If you find yourself feeling things like “I should have not,” or “I wish I would have,” those kinds of feelings are negative and really unproductive. You deserve to feel really good about the work you have accomplished – that is how and why I started this website, so I could feel good about the work I was doing and I wanted to feel accomplished in this hobby, and I wanted to help others feel like they are doing good things. I want you to feel that way and I want you to talk that way about your work.

It may seem like I am being critical about my work as I talk about 2013, so I want to clarify that there are most definitely parts about this album that I simply am unhappy with and want to do this all over again without feeling destroyed about it. And I definitely am not in any way criticizing how anyone does this hobby – all of our creative work has such tremendous merit and value. Being unhappy with an album or a layout is not a good place to be and I want to do something about it.

When I was in design school we regularly critiqued each other’s work and from that I learned that identifying challenges in my work doesn’t mean I am a bad artist, it only means it can make it possible for me to be better. It can tell me things about myself that I can work on in order to be a better memory keeper, artist, and designer. This can only happen if we first identify the good about that project, and then identify what we want to do different.

There are two very specific questions you can use to help make the decision to rework an album. I don’t want you to throw out every project you’ve ever done, right?

1. My 2013 album has been sitting on the shelf for 5 years, and for five years I have been unhappy about it. I have had a LOT of time to think about whether I wanted to redo it, a LOT of time to finish other projects that were more important, and now I am free to start this over. Allow yourself plenty of time to think about that project before you tear it apart. We are emotionally invested in these projects, we have spent lots of time and money on these layouts, so give yourself time to make this decision. Sometimes during that period you may decide you do love it, and that is ok too. Hooray! But if you find, after a long period of time that you are still unhappy with it, then you can give yourself permission to start over. Then you can go boldly forward with that decision and get busy!

2. One of the major deciding factors for me in redo-ing my 2013 album was that the whole entire album gets on my nerves! If there are only one or two things you don’t care about, or one or two things that aren’t perfect, that is ok and I would not redo a project like that. We aren’t going for perfection here, so embrace those types of projects and love them even with their imperfections. But if more than half of a project or layout bugs you to death, start over. Determine where your own threshold is – maybe for you it would have to be 75% in order to redo, and that is awesome. I think everybody has a threshold and it might be different for everyone, so identify where yours is personally and then do something about it. I knew for sure that more than 50% of my 2013 album was not making me happy, so it was sort of a no-brainer for me.

I also encourage you, when you are reworking a project, don’t throw the original work away until you are completely done with the redo. I am keeping my 2013 album and will be working with it alongside the new one in particular so I can retain the original journaling in the first album. I want to be sure that the journaling is somehow carried over. The photos, of course, are digital so they will be completely reprinted, and I am so happy for that.

One final thought: sometimes we recreate an album simply for the enjoyment of revisiting those memories and simply for the joy of creating that project again, and that is totally awesome too. If you have an album that you love and you find years down the road you just want to redo it simply for the fun of redoing it, then you should go for it! You can make layouts and albums with your memories as many times as you want to. Enjoy it, no explanation necessary. It is enough to do this hobby simply for the enjoyment of doing it, with no expectations or requirements. Just because you want to.

I hope that you have found some helpful ways to decide on reworking a project here and some ways to make the decision that will be healthy and positive. Give yourself permission and make a confident decision, then go for it! Let’s look at that 2013 album, shall we?

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