Review: Wreck This Journal

Greetings everyone! Welcome to summer. Yay for summer. Summer means getting out and playing in the sun, hiking and lots of reading. You heard me, it's time to break out the books and get busy with your summer reading. My reading table already seems to be overflowing with books on creativity, writing, fiction by Neil Gaiman and others. However, I wanted to mention a book that will change how you feel about journaling and treating your books.

A few months ago, a friend from my account alerted me that Keri Smith of Living Out Loud fame was working on her latest follow up. Entitled Wreck This Journal, it promised to help artists and journalers break through blocks and inhibitions to get into truly personalized and FUN journaling. Of course, I immediately added it to my wish list as this is a hot topic for me. Then, something magical happened... last month, I was given an advanced copy of this book and it blew away all of the expectations I had.

I figured that Wreck This Journal was just like many other creative-help books out there; filled with hilarious anecdotes of life as a creative person; new techniques and ideas on how to become more involved with one's journal and wrecking it; and quirky hand-drawn images penned by Smith herself. I was partially wrong. Instead, what I got in the mail was a journal sized tome. Inside were Smith's doodles and pages and pages of statements:"write with office supplies," "play journal golf," "take this book into the shower with you;" were scribbled across the top of every page. This wasn't just any ordinary creative book, this was a WORKBOOK. A book that YOU use to practice what is said across any pages. A book that you help turn into art by transforming it.

I squeed out loud in girlish delight as I sat down with colored crayons and began to read. Smith believes in the basic principle that "to create is to destroy" and this book jumps you right into that philosophy. There are only 5 rules to the book: you carry it with you EVERYWHERE, you follow the instructions on every page, order isn't important, you can interpret the instructions as you wish, and experiment. Easy enough. Once you know those concepts you are now free to flip through the book and start destroying it. Some pages ask you to rip or tear out pages, while others ask you do to silly things with it like rub dirt on it or take it on a walk or toss it. For those of you who hate breaking spines... there's even a page that says, "break the spine".

The first page I tackled, told me to chew on it. I smiled and literally bit into the page. This is the only book that has a print of my jaw and notations about how chemically the page tasted (it took me awhile to get it out of my mouth). Another page tells you to Burn it. Grabbing a lighter, I attempted a few small burns. One in the middle, almost took out the entire page. So be forewarned... the pages want to burn and if you are not paying close attention to your book it might just go up in flames.

Now, we all know that I'm always encouraging everyone to write in a journal and to drag it with you. Well, here's a book that you can do all the crazy things you want to do in a journal, without feeling like you'll be destroying your Moleskine. Wreck This Journal is perfect for everyone. Had I a million dollars, I would try and buy everyone this book and tell them to complete the exercises. If you're blocked and aren't sure what to write about or draw about then this book is for you. If you want a playful, artistic romp on what a messy creative life is all about, then this book is for you. If you are just getting started as an artist and want to play, then this book is for you. Heck, if I ever teach creativity to others I may have them use this as a companion text.

I love this book and the playful way that Keri Smith teaches people the act of creating by putting you right on the spot. Wreck this journal is a fun, interactive book that you will want to work in every day. To create is to destroy and this book delivers.

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I immediately pre-ordered this earlier this Spring...

... and was very happy when it showed up recently, having forgotten about it.

I'm a fan of it, as the pristine white pages of a journal can be both infinitely promising and intimidating all at once. This book is a good jumpstart into wreaking creative havoc onto something that need only be for you and you alone, freeing you to not worry about what the end result might be, or how it might look to the outside observer. Who cares? They're just exercises.

There's also an element of GTD goodness in there, too, in the sense that each page just gives you a mindless-widget-to-crank assignment that you can choose to follow to the letter or not.

The one suggestion that I would make to anyone playing with this is to keep track of the fleeting 'doing this makes me think of doing _____________ in a journal' thoughts, and to follow up on those. Hopefully you end up with a churning, self-perpetuating locomotive of a journal habit.

Lastly, I rather enjoyed the 'bite this page' bit, as the wrinkle patterns I captured in the journal were really quite beautiful. Mine tasted bad too, though, but I can still viscerally remember that taste, which I can't say about any of my other journals throughout my life.

I picked this bok up last

I picked this bok up last week while I was in Mendocino and I have been having so much fun with it. I have trashed the poor thing, and I've only done about half the pages. My girlfriend ran out and picked up a copy and now all our friends are getting them. I can't reccomend this journal highly enough. It's a riot.


Seeing the title of this article on my Rss feed, I thought, "Yay!" I had just discovered this book recently while perusing online and added to my RSS feed two days ago. I wasn't sure about buying the book, though, since it seemed to be kind of a waste of money to buy a new book just to destroy it. Ya know, goes against the grain and all... Well, after reading this article I am seriously reconsidering. ;0) Just have to get my hands on some cash and crush my inner groanings.
Thanks for another great review, innowen!


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