As "seasoned" LOADsters, some of my colleagues and I have been asked to share a bit of advice for newbies. What do I wish I'd known before I started?
Well my first bit of advice is, take it one day at a time. On day 1 (and before), don't worry about having to do 28 layouts; just concern yourself with doing ONE layout today. Relax and take one day at a time. Planning ahead is not bad per se, but it can be overwhelming. I prefer to just take each day's prompt and use it for that day's layout.
Secondly, don't feel that you need to prepare ahead of time. If you prefer to prepare, you can look through your photos, get photos printed, and think of things about which you'd like to scrapbook. But don't feel that you must do this. I tried to prepare a bit before my first LOAD, but found that I really didn't do much with those photos and ideas. I preferred to follow the prompts, since they triggered stories that I wouldn't otherwise think to tell.
Also remember that prompts can be taken in any direction you choose. I tend to look at the prompt right away in the morning (or just after midnight if I'm still awake) and then think about it throughout the day and write down any thoughts or ideas I have. I let my thoughts take me in lots of different directions when I create my layout. If you're like me, sometimes my layout will have an obvious connection to the prompt, but sometimes there is a chain of thought that leads a long way from the original. Either way it's okay - don't stress over it - you're telling your stories the way that you want to.
Of course this also leads me to #5: If the prompt for a particular day really doesn't resonate with you, then ignore it and scrapbook whatever you'd like. There are no LOAD police saying that you have to stay on-prompt.
A couple more quickies:
If you miss a day, oh well...it's not the end of the world, and don't let it derail you. Do today's layout and move on. If you want to go back and fill in later, you can; if you don't want to, that's okay, too. Whether you end up with one layout or 28 (or more!), it's more than you started with! My first LOAD actually took me three months to finally finish, and my second never did get totally done (which is fine!).
Remember that every layout does not have to be a masterpiece, and simple can often be just as good as can complicated. Get it done today. If it really bothers you, you can always go back later and add more or tweak it a little. I'll often go through all of my layouts at the end of the month and make little changes here and there; but often the things that bothered me at the time end up really not being that big of a deal! I have very few layouts from my LOADs that I really don't like (I'm talking one or two out of a couple hundred!).
Okay, I've been long-winded enough. Hopefully my fellow LOAD bloggers will fill in things I missed, and I'm sure they'll have a lot of ideas I've never thought of. (I'm planning to take a tour through, also, to see what new tips and tricks I can pick up!)
But I'll leave you with one last bit: Have fun! We all have enough stress in our lives; this doesn't need to be another. Challenge yourself, but then do what you can and enjoy the process.
Oh, and P.S. Join in the community at Flickr and participate when you can. There's a ton of inspiration and support from our wonderful community, and it's nice to get a pat on the back, too!
For great advice from other experienced LOADsters, check out this blog post by Lain Ehmann, where you'll get ideas from our fearless leader and links to the other blogs.