Wreck This Journal: Letting Go


A little over a year ago, I bought a book that challenged me in ways I never expected.  While a creative free spirit, I am also a highly organized neat-nick that likes to have things in perfect order. This is a great trait for my day job and keeping a well-ordered home, but for writing it can be the kiss of death.  Creativity needs spark and inspiration, not a color-coded filing system (at least not all the time!).  I realized I needed to break out of my box and go nuts with imagination.  It was time to let go and make a mess.

Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal  dared me to break my own rules with page after page of unique activities.  In fact, there were no rules and I was free to do whatever came to mind!  The process of wrecking my journal turned out to be a truly liberating experience.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite pages with the hope that they will inspire some more messy creativity.  As always, click on images for a full-size view.

The cover of my journal.  I’ll explain the rip in the binding soon enough, (it involves yarn and centripetal force). At one point, the cover will be decorated with doodles as per instructions I have not yet completed.  I’m thinking metallic gel pens and glitter glue will get the job done!

The overall “instructions” for the journal.  What I love about them is the blatant ambiguity – there is no right or wrong way to wreck your journal.  These two pages are covered in doodles and color because I felt like using my crayons and markers.

My muse juice is splattered all over this page along with some musings and lame attempts at drawing. This page turned out to be an amazing source of motivation during the arduous process of revising/editing the third draft of my novel.  It was a great way to vent my frustration in a constructive way that left me with hope and the gumption to keep going.  Who would have thought some splattered coffee could inspire so much?


c.b. 2011


74 thoughts on “Wreck This Journal: Letting Go

  1. This is an awesome book. My graphic designer colleague has one. It’s so irreverent and shocking, in a good way. The instructions in the book are liberating, but kinda scary. You want me to do what to a perfectly good book? I need to go pick one up for me now. : )


  2. By the way, a tall mocha is my favorite Starbucks drink, too… I always as for nonfat (only because it’s a little too sweet otherwise), extra hot (which forces me to drink slowly), with whip (they always assume I don’t want whip because I say nonfat, so I make sure to say it upon ordering). : )


  3. Maybe i should send you scans of my notes… I hardly ever lack ideas and alternative ideas and alternative alternative ideas and… Chaos is the reservoir for creation, but a bit of structure and organization (mind-wise and other) is quite useful, too 😉


  4. i have one of these and i had the Hardest time taking that first “wrecking” step. my organized, color-coded mind just could not let go. but once i did, look out book! it was in for a wild ride! the wildest: i asked my brother to take it surfing with him. i think it’s Still drying out… but salt water gives a book some great texture! 🙂


    • The next Wreck This Journal post will be posted next week Wednesday. It seems fitting to put some crazy creativity in the middle of the week, when we need it most! 🙂

      I’ll bet you’ll do some pretty amazing things with your journal and they will all be beautiful! Please share if you decide to get the book!

      Thanks for reading!


  5. I saw this post listed on your sidebar and couldn’t resist a look: I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the idea of letting go of things. I tend to travel quite a lot, and it’s difficult for me to find a balance between enjoying the travelling itself and documenting the travelling in as many ways as possible. I’m interested to see a couple more of the pages of the journal – something like this might be a great way of cutting down all the rigid writing and drawing and photographing I feel I HAVE to do, and just expressing myself instead. Thanks!


  6. “While a creative free spirit, I am also a highly organized neat-nick that likes to have things in perfect order.” Are we peas in a pod or what?

    A friend of mine gave me a copy of Wreck this Journal a few years ago. She laughed hysterically when she got to the fruit label page and all of my labels were neatly lined up in rows! Not exactly a “mess” of creativity.

    It’s such a fun book, though. You’ve inspired me to revisit it and wreck the heck out of it this time!



    • All right! 😀 Get wrecking . . .

      I have to laugh about the fruit labels. When I first played with that page, my fruit labels were all lined up in perfectly straight rows, too! We are peas in a pod! Lol! I’m trying to be more messy with that page, but it still looks nice and neat.


  7. This is so great! I just checked out your blog and I’m also a big fan of creativity inspiring big-kid activity books…check out “life if a verb” by Patti Digh – it’s got writing activities, dares for things to do to get the creativity flowing & helps you be more mindful of the people/things around you…really recommended if you like this sort of thing! 🙂


  8. ..to let live the child that til death reside within, to an adult spent life by some, would sound a sin, but truth be told, it is when one’s life truly begins…. all the best in your discovery and exploration.. have fun..naykdpoet


  9. CB,
    The fact that you are a teacher is awesome (I have been there and realize how much work it is) but the fact that you are such a consistent blogger who also consistently comments on other blogs and then replies to those comments on your blog. Well, then add that you actually write novels. It’s enough to make my inner writer hog wild jealous. But you are just so darn talented and so darn nice, I just can’t hate you or be jealous. You are doing it. Girl, I wave and salute you. You rock! You deserve to get discovered! Have a happy day! I always take time to read your posts. With a toddler I am so all over the place and don’t have long stretches of time to get stuff done, so I do it here and there. I am just proud to get out my Monday Museletter!
    Cheerio and I hope Monday was museful for you!


    • Thank you for so many kind words. On the teacher front, it was a tough day (students were great, the bureaucracy is not), so all your wonderful words totally turned this day around. Thank you a thousand times for reminding me of why I write every day.

      Your blog was such a bright spot in my day as well. Thanks for creating such a positive and beautiful space! 🙂


      • Thank you CB. I looked for you on Pinterest, but you must use a different name. I have to watch myself on that website — I could spend hours dreaming and coloring so to speak. I wonder if your school has applications like that you could use for teaching. I bet the kids would love to create boards about what they learn. Technology is such a great tool with middle and high school students. And elementary. My 4th graders knew more about computers than me sometimes! I miss those little buggers — there is magic in a classroom when they learn something. I miss those big eyes saying, “Yes I can!” Just know that your creative spirit and nonconforming ways teach those kids about what is important — them and their minds! I can tell you are a great teacher. Sometimes you just have to go around the elbow to get to the thumb — take a little tour off the beaten path is always good for learning. I could write pages and pages in the comment about education and how we are not focusing on creativity enough in schools. Have you read Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind”? It is a best practices book. Give a copy to the bureaucrats to read and then write your own book on teaching CB. You are gold, silver, ruby and emerald. Don’t let anyone tell you different.


      • Today I had an amazing day with my students. I assigned a project that asks them to be creative and innovative with every day objects. They were so excited and literally broke off into conversations about the assignment. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. 🙂

        Thanks so much for being such a positive presence. I’ve always gone my own way and found strength in being different. And I will continue to believe in that philosophy. 🙂


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