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  • Writer's pictureRachel Paige

Wrecking the Box

Everyone has heard the phrase "think outside the box." But what does that mean? How are we supposed to do that? I'm going to tell you guys about the best creativity unlocking tool I've found. Chances are you've heard of it. It's a book called Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith.

The idea is to wreck the journal, as you may have guessed. There's a prompt on every page on ways to wreck it, like "compost this page," "crack the spine," and "rub this page on a dirty car." There's two ways to go about it. One is to take it literally and do exactly what the page says. Which may be fun and will definitely result in a wrecked journal, but probably won't help unlock creativity. The other way is to play with it and force yourself to try new things and take risks on ideas you'd usually avoid.

I started by making a list of things I wanted to incorporate on the pages. Most of them were Disney movies. Then I thought of ways to connect the prompts to those things. For example, the page for hand prints made me think of the mailbox from Up. The page I was supposed to float reminded me of the fish in Finding Nemo trapped in their plastic bags in the harbor. For "close your eyes, connect the dots from memory" I played on the word "memory" and made the dots into the memory orbs from Inside Out.

As soon as I got into it, I had ideas for all kinds of pages. The best part was that I couldn't mess up. The whole point is to wreck the journal, so mistakes are a bonus. I got to allow myself to try things I wouldn't usually do. No idea was too crazy. I was forced to follow the mental rabbit trails I'd usually run from.

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I smeared glue over an entire page. I glued dryer lint to another. I pressed a wet fruit roll up onto one. I drew many Disney references. I drew with my left hand. I made pages inspired by my characters. I painted with coffee. I made a shower curtain for one of the pages.

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I let myself think of ideas, then think how to make those ideas even better. I experimented and played until I found one I liked. I started by thinking inside the box by looking at a prompt on a page. Then I thought about what I associated with that prompt. What connections I could make. Then I thought about what materials I could use. What could I try that I'd never done before? I ended up with pages that destroyed (or rather, wrecked) the so-called box.

It's essentially the "yes, and?" method. For example: I can make this page about a baking. Yes, and I can print out actual recipes I use. Yes, and I can make those recipes with this book on the counter. Yes, and I can intentionally get ingredients all over it.

I highly recommend this journal. If you're having trouble getting started, Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas. Just don't stay there. I promise, you can come up with ideas all on your own.

And remember, this is for you to have fun with. You don't have to get it right. It doesn't have to look pretty. It's just for play and just for you. So let yourself go crazy with it. Stretch yourself and your abilities. If you think you can't draw something, try anyway. You might surprise yourself.

You might find it helps your writing process, too. The idea of reckless creativity can be applied to writing, or any other creative endeavor. No idea is a bad idea because they're all a jumping point for something more. You can come up with ideas on your own. You can experiment and play and make mistakes.

You'll stretch yourself and surprise yourself. Let yourself be as creatively carefree as this book encourages, but in your writing, too. If you think your story idea is bad or too ambitious for you, try it anyway. Be reckless. Be bold. Be willing to mess up and accept those mistakes as part of the process.


Have you tried a journal like this? How did it impact your creative process?


You can find the book here, or linked on the resources page.

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