Wreck This Journal: A Perfectionist’s Nightmare

Yesterday, I put on my lime green rainboots, ran around in the muddy backyard, and then stomped on an open book.  All in the name of creative recklessness.

Wreck This Journal: Exercises in Creative Recklessness via thinkingcloset.com

You see, two Christmases ago, my sister gave me a book by Keri Smith called *Wreck This Journal.  It’s full of creative prompts, many of which invite you to pretty much destroy the book.  Here are a just a few of them:

  • “Sew this page.”
  • “Find a way to wear the journal.”
  • “Tear this page out.  Put it in your pocket.  Put it through the wash.  Stick it back in.”

Now, those of you who are book-lovers (like me!) might be wondering,

“But why in the world would you want to destroy a book?”

Well, Keri’s introductory warning spells it out quite well:

Wreck This Journal: Exercises in Creative Recklessness via thinkingcloset.com

It’s a book to help break perfectionists.  Like me.  To shake us of our quest for perfection, which can all too often plague us with creative paralysis.  After all, creativity is messy!  And we all need to be reminded to let that creativity “splish, splash, and spill.”  Especially me.

And so, on a rainy Tuesday, I seized the opportunity to dive into the rabble-rousing pages of Wreck This Journal.  And here are the fruits of the wrecking.

Wreck This Journal: Part I

1.  “This Book Belongs To…”  My favorite part of this page is the note at the very bottom; it almost makes me want to lose the book on purpose just to see what they would do.

Wreck This Journal: My First "Wrecked" Pages by thinkingcloset.com

I chopped up one of my business cards and glued the pieces onto the page using Glitter Mod Podge.  Because everything is better with Glitter Mod Podge.

Everything is better with Glitter Mod Podge!

The plain blank page to the left was just begging for some love…so I thumbed through a magazine until I found a most fitting “first page” to my journal:

Wreck This Journal: My First "Wrecked" Pages by thinkingcloset.com

Let yourself GO, it said.  Leap, it said.

And so…I did.

2.  “Instructions”  I haven’t played with soft pastels in I don’t know how long!  They’re often too messy for most craft projects because that chalky dust gets ev.ery.where.  But on the pages of a journal I’m supposed to mess up?  Bring it on!

Wreck This Journal: Exercises in Creative Recklessness via thinkingcloset.com

Playing with pastels in Wreck This Journal via thinkingcloset.com

I ended up with a rainbow on my fingertips, too!

Wreck This Journal: Exercises in Creative Recklessness via thinkingcloset.com

3.  “Stand Here”  This is the first prompt that felt a bit risky…like the book police might pull into my driveway, sirens blaring, and lock me up for book vandalism.  I mean, I used to have my English students raise their right hand and solemnly swear to treat their books with love and respect, like they would their own children.  So, a prompt asking me to use the book as a doormat?  Well, it went against my every instinct.

Wreck This Journal: Exercises in Creative Recklessness via thinkingcloset.com

But I know in the world of theatre, when you’re playing a new role, costume can really help you get into character.  And so, I put on my rain jacket, donned my lime green rainboots, and ran around the backyard in the rain.  And suddenly, I was seven-years-old again.

Getting muddy out in the rain!

And seven-year-olds jump on books with muddy boots.  At least, they do if you tell them to.  If those are the instructions.  And so, I did just that.  I jumped around.  “Jump, jump, jump, jump….”

Wreck This Journal: Using My Book As A Doormat via thinkingcloset.com

And I made a muddy mess.

Wreck This Journal: Using My Book As A Doormat via thinkingcloset.com

And I’ve gotta confess: I had so much fun!

Also, I know I would have never gone out in the backyard in the rain if it hadn’t been for this prompt.  Which means I wouldn’t have splashed in the shallows of the lake.  And I wouldn’t have found this beautiful iridescent treasure of a shell.

A treasure found in the lake during the "Wreck This Journal" journey via thinkingcloset.com

4.  “Fling Your Coffee Here”  I painted swirls of my French Roast coffee onto the right-hand page using my pinky finger.  And then, I got a little more daring and actually took a sip of coffee and released small drips from my mouth onto the left-hand page.  I actually gave my facial muscles a workout with this one!

Wreck This Journal: Coffee Art via thinkingcloset.com

5.  “Add Your Own Page Numbers”  This was the final activity I took on yesterday.  After doing a doodle-collage of numbers, I decided to cut my book’s page numbers out of magazines…

Wreck This Journal: Add Your Own Page Numbers via thinkingcloset.com

…ransom-note style….

Wreck This Journal: Add Your Own Page Numbers via thinkingcloset.com

…which was a fantastic idea, except that I severely underestimated how many pages were in this book, as well as how long this would take.  So, I tapped out at page 65, not even halfway through the book.  This one is “to be continued.”

Wreck This Journal: Add Your Own Page Numbers via thinkingcloset.com

Before & After

And just for kicks, here’s a shot of the closed book before starting…

Wreck This Journal: Beginnings via thinkingcloset.com

…and after my first “wrecking.”

Wreck This Journal: After the First Wrecking via thinkingcloset.com

I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse!  And by worse, I mean better: more messy.  More wrecked.  And I’m kind of excited about it.

Your Turn

Dear reader, what do you think about Wreck This Journal?  Do you think you could do it?  Jump on a book with muddy rainboots or spit coffee art onto its pages?  Or are you phoning this in to the book police?

And if you’re keen on seeing more, let me know!  If there’s enough interest, I’ll be sure to share more installments of my Wreck This Journal journey.  And if you’d like to see all my past journaling posts, click HERE.

Have a happy Wednesday, friends!

Wreck This Journal Part 1: Journal Exercises in Creative Recklessness via thinkingcloset.com

{I like to link up here.}

*Full Disclosure: Some links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase after clicking through, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thanks for supporting this site!  Click here to read more of my site policies.


Lovely comments so far...

  1. says

    This is a terrifying idea to me. I won’t even order used books even though they’re cheaper and I can’t technically afford ANYTHING but rent and food at the moment because books are THAT holy to me. Like, I am having heart palpatations just reading this.
    Admittedly, your results look really cool (obviously, you made it!) but yeah.. I think I’m going to have to pass on this one! Although I would like to see what else you come up with! I think.. 😉

    • Rhonda says

      I’m with you Johanna! I would be trying to make the coffee spills into a neat concise pattern. My boots would have a perfect pattern on the bottom and I would be trying to grind the grass to get a beautiful green on them before I stepped on the pages. I had a counselor one time try to get me to go home and hang some of the pictures on the walls crooked and live with it. Ha. As If.

  2. Robyn S. says

    Fun, I want one! Although I know how you feel. All those book page projects on Pinterest make me cringe.

  3. says

    I love this idea! Well done you for getting out of your comfort zone… not sure I could do it but perhaps that’s a challenge I need to face up to :)

  4. Lisa says

    I have added this to my Amazon wishlist! What a wonderful idea…for perfectionists or for someone wanting a little extra adventure!

  5. says

    Bill and I saw this at a small book shop once. He commented about how awesome it would be to go through it, but we didn’t actually buy it. Maybe we should go order it!
    It would also be a fun way to get students to get creative and think outside the box. If I was still teaching this would be something I got my kiddos!

  6. says

    My mind is blown! I have never heard of anything like this, and this is TOTALLY the type of crazy journalling I could get excited about. Can’t wait to see how else you wreck your journal. How awesome!

  7. says

    I can picture you running around outside in the rain and gleefully jumping on the book.lol:)
    I must get my hands on a bunch of these journals…there are going to be many people in my life who will be receiving one for their next birthday! Thanks for sharing!

  8. says

    My daughter & I have been working on that journal for several years now. :-) We LOVE it. Always such fun. She needs it a little more than I do, as she’s very particular, where I’m a bit more free. Glad you’re enjoying it. Can’t wait to see more of it.

  9. says

    I WANT ONE!!! you look like you are having a blast! I can see how it would be just a tad intimidating and hard to get started, but once you’ve broken through, your creativity just splish splashes over, I’m sure! this is now on my birthday list and just might become my favorite gift to give. Thank you for sharing and inspiring, as always!

  10. says

    Oh my gosh, this looks like So. Much. Fun!! I am putting this on my birthday wish-list! What better way to ring in a new decade than by wrecking a journal, right?? And I hear you on the deep and abiding respect for every page. When I finally convinced myself to try a book page decoupage project last fall, I had a *really* hard time taking an Xacto knife to the pages! I felt so bad!! I’m excited to see your next installment of wrecking!

  11. Marmie says

    I had forgotten Lisbeth got that for you. What a “perfect” gift for you.

    Thanks for sharing and definitely keep showing us more of your journal as you go along!

    That’s cool you became your seven year old self when you went out in the rain to stomp on the book! I’m trying to think how I could wreck something without buying something else since I’m needing to purge stuff. Will be on the look out!

  12. says

    ooo, I need that book! I, too, am a perfectionist and this would be so helpful. I love that you shared this and your wrecking! Hope you share more! (love the idea of stomping and running around in the rain then jumping on your book!)

    Would you share where you can get this journal?

  13. says

    I made the wreck book myself and my grandson said to me. Are you kidding Grandma. I would not think of it. So he is 16 and he said it is going to stay that way the smash book,.

    I made it not black. I made it felt.outside red. I made it with a recycle book manual I had hanging around. . I glued every third page to the end. The book had over 200 pages or more.. When I was finished it was still 80 odd pages. It was bulky. I did jokes, games ask him to make circles in it with out stopping your pen. The whole nine yards of nonsense. You name it. Real masculine book. Questions like. If you had a robber in your house. Your dads car keys were on the front table. What would you do to scare of the robber in your house. Answer. Press the button for horn. on the car key.

    So do you know if the one you gave too they actually smashed it.? I told him throw it up in the air. He said heck no Grams. It is a keepsake from you . Why would I do that. Sort of made me feel good I must say that way. I mean what Granny in the 60’s to update last kid make six scrapbooks and the one smash book for Grandkid. The Moms do it more in the year 2012 to now. . My G kids loved what I did. So now 72. I had finished the last one last year.
    I am 72 s still I love doing corny things in scraping and Cinderella frills and lace, bling, bling for my first born Grand. girl who is now 21. She loved it she took it to her University to show and tell it. to teachers and friends.

    She is going to be a school teacher. Third year now..

    So I guess the thing to do is not give it to family smash book. Ha.ha Love those boots you have. .

  14. says

    I need to dig mine back out. I started it some time last year while I was on my blogging break, but it’s now sitting at the bottom of my “To Read” stack on my nightstand. I’d love to see more of your wrecking adventures, and I may start a similar something over on my blog. :)

  15. says

    I’m beaming from ear to ear. It’s so fun to go with you on your “wrecking journal” journey! Please do more and share it with us….oh pretty please! I love how you did more than instructed (you completed #5: experiment!) by adding onto the first blank page. And were those your own numbers on the “add your own numbers page”??

    And playing in the rain and mud? The beaming continues…it makes me think of our special rainy adventure back in college, as well as our own little hurricane-ado last March. Wish I could’ve joined you out there, dancing in all that rain. This is making me want a wrecking journal too…for, “like sister, like sister,” as far as being a perfectionist goes. I think it’d be good for me to get messy and make some big mistakes. :)

  16. says

    I, too, hold books sacred but…this book’s job is to be wrecked so I would be happy to help it! After all, I wouldn’t want to hurt it’s feelings! I’m ordering one now and I definitely want to keep up with how yours is coming along! I love the idea of the cut out page numbers! Clicking over to Amazon now!

    • says

      Ha ha, I delight in your personification of the book, Robin! It’s true. If it’s asking for a wrecking, we’ve got to honor its wishes, right? So delighted to hear that you’ve ordered a copy yourself. Will you send me a photo or two once you dive in? I’d love to see what creativity spills onto your pages!

  17. says

    OMG, Lauren! That book is awesome! I think I would be crying over touching those pages though. I love books so much. I tend to get journals and end up keeping them pristine. I know I am supposed to put stuff in them, but they are too pretty! Maybe I need this book to get over it? :)

    • says

      I know, I’m with you, Bethany! It feels SO counter-intuitive to intentional “wreck” a journal, and yet, I’ve found the process strangely freeing thus far. Maybe you’ll find the same to be true?

  18. says

    Love this idea! I’m not much of a journalist, but I just picked up one of my own to join in the fun. I can’t wait to see what else you do with it!

  19. says

    I’ve had this book for a while…years, actually. I’ve only done a page or two because it freaks me out so badly, but I think I’ll dig it out again and give it another try.

    • says

      Oooo! Yes, do, Rebekah! In fact, hearing about all the folk wanting to work on this book, I might have to do some sort of linky party where we all link up our pages…spur each other on in our “wrecking!”

  20. says

    I absolutely love what you did. You embraced the book to the fullest and it looks awesome(r) to me! I’m thinking of ordering one of these books but now to figure out for who! Can’t wait! PS: your rainboots are pretty freaking cute!

    • says

      Eeek! Do it with me, Thalita! I know your journal would be so beautiful amidst the messiness, too, just because that’s how you do. Okay, I’m seriously considering adding a linky party to my next post…just gotta figure out how to do that!

  21. Jessica says

    That looks amazing! Do you know if they have one for children or would this one work, say for a brilliant anxious perfectionist impulsive compassionate creative soon-to-be 7 year old?

  22. says

    LOVE this! Perfect cure for my perfectionist tendencies! :) Can’t wait to get this into my hands (and under my feet! :) Thanks for the great review!!

    • says

      Ha ha. Yes, this definitely a book for hands, feet, and beyond! I’m actually hoping to dive back into the fun later this week. Thanks for stopping by to check it out! And you’ll have to let me know if you get your own copy, so we can be “Wreck It Buddies!”

  23. Rachel says

    I have a WTJ and I absolutely love it. Although I love books, I have always felt that if they are pristine, it’s just plain wrong. That they need to be well worn, well studied and well used. I love to hear the russelling of crumply paper and see pages over spilling. I am a very messy creative person, which is funny as I actually hate mess and untidiness in any other part of life, so this book is awesome for letting loose. Also for fuelling your creativity. I’d love to see some more of what has become of your WTJ. Mine is one of my most treasured books. Now that’s it’s wrecked, it’s just more perfect to me.

    Can’t wait to see more of your wrecking.

  24. says

    My heart is pounding at the thought of doing this. It terrifies me. I LOVE books and couldn’t purposely do something like rip a page out. 0_0 I love looking at people’s Journalling Bibles, and I think “Oh, I’d love to” but I don’t think I could.


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