Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Simply Smashing

Until recently I didn't know it, but I've been smashing every novel I've written since the eighties. I've also smashed my personal journals, sketchbooks, quilt diaries, poetry binders and daily planners. I've even smashed the notebook I use for what I write on PBW.

Before you start calling me a wrecking ball, I don't mean smash as into smithereens. "Smashing" is the new term for a trend in the scrapbooking industry that capitalizes on the very old practice of saving souvenirs, mementos, bits and pieces and other memory prompts in a journal or notebook. And whether you call them smash books, scrapbooks, memory journals or idea diaries, if you save any kind of junk-drawer type ephemera in book form, you're smashing.

Smashing is something most females do throughout life, I think. In Girl Scouts we used to make camp diaries and stick everything in them from pretty leaves to paper airplanes; in high school just about every girl I knew kept pressed flowers and prom programs tucked in their yearbooks. In my kids' baby albums I saved their hospital IDs, new baby cards and snipped locks from first haircuts. I have journals riddled with the kid's homemade cards, programs for all their school shows, and my guy's love notes (he always uses Post-its and leaves them in the strangest places.)

Quilters are old hands at smashing; just ask one of us to bring out a quilt diary. Along with the photos of finished projects displayed on the pages there will be swatches of fabric, experiment blocks, copies of patterns, old stencils and templates, you name it. I used to tape every needle I bent or broke in my quilt diary and then count them at the end of the year (which is also how I learned to spend a bit more money and buy better needles.)

If you're not already a smashing writer, it's simple enough to do. You need a notebook, photo album or 3-ring binder to serve as your smash book, writing instruments, paper, sticky notes, paperclips, glue stick or photo mounting adhesive (I use these little double-sided squares because they're easier than glue for me to handle.) As you collect words, ideas, images, notes and other assorted bits of inspiration and resources for your story, you put them in the book. You can be as creative or as simple as you like; there are no rules involved.

I decided to do it proper and bought K&Company's smash journal as well as a bunch of their accessories. Target and most craft stores carry a good variety, and they're not super expensive; I spent about twenty dollars for my pile of stuff. The one thing I like are the pocket pieces that I can adhere to a page and tuck things inside; that allows me to remove or add whatever I like to that particular page.

To show you some examples, here are some of the pages I put together in my smash journal for the next novel:



This one is for the male protagonist of my next novel, and has palette inspiration photos, paint chips and some notes for myself on particular setting details.



Sometimes I mount photos on the pages permanently for quick visual reference. For these two pages I collected pics I've taken in real life, but I also want to do something in one scene that transforms that setting (which is why I added the eerie red image I clipped from a calendar.)



I also pages with random stuff that catches my eye. These two are for the female protagonist and are kind of a catch-all for the stuff I'm using her character, dialogue, setting, story palette, and pretty much everything else that appeals to me.

You can organize your smash book according to characters, setting, dialogue, plot, etc., but I don't ever find anything in precise story order so I don't worry about keeping it alphabetized or indexed. Although if you put together a huge smash book, you might want to use alphabetic dividers, tabs or come up with named/themed sections to keep it easy to reference.

I enjoyed discovering this new way to keep my writer junk tidy so much that I bought more of everything to give away here on the blog: K&Company's Mod-style Smash journal as well as a nice assortment of their most interesting and useful smashing stuff:



If you'd like a chance to win the whole pile, in comments to this post suggest a theme you think would be interesting (doesn't have to be about writing) for a page in a smash book by midnight EST on Thursday, April 26, 2012. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the smash journal, the accessories and a signed copy of my novel Nightborn. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

46 comments:

  1. I think it would be fabulous to do one for an entire world (or universe). With sketches, color palettes, random facts, dried leaves, calendar ideas, you name it.

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  2. I have been lusting after the Smash products for a while now, loving the idea of a 'messy' scrapbook. I even made a homemade one for my friend who finds 'proper' scrapbooking irritating. I would love to get my hands on the brand assortment, though.

    I think a 'strength' or 'truth' (as in personal truths discovered) themed page would be wonderful. I'm working on improving myself and my life in a lot of ways right now, and I have been discovering a lot of things that would smash right onto those pages.

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  3. Ooh, I'd love to see a nightlife theme in a smashbook :) There is so much that could be done with it, it would be really cool!

    I absolutely adore the little pocket-pages!

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  4. Family vacations... :) Might sound sappy to some, but family is everything and it would be a good memento to look back at over the year. ;) I've actually done scrapbooks for just that sort of thing.

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  5. Fran Kane5:56 AM

    And here I thought "smashing it" meant you'd got it right on target / nailed it. At least that the current colloquialism my kids are using. I stand corrected.

    And talking of kids, my youngest is 18 next month so a page covering his rise to this lofty age would be a wonderful momento.

    With regard to books though, I'd love to see one about Michael & Alexandra. I think the colours would be magnificent.

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  6. Ooh, my daughter would love that! She writes fanfiction & she's always filling spiral notebooks with character names, story prompts, etc. She definitely needs a smash book.

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  7. Shannon D7:06 AM

    I did something like this for the first summer my partner and I spent together. We saved movie stubs, menus from restaurants, receipts for gas from road trips, even the ribbon from a bouquet of flowers he brought me...it all goes into this little book that is now bursting at the seams. I'm going to start another one soon.

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  8. Oh, very cool! I've started using Pinterest to collect my images but I like real-life stuff, too, and am always clipping pictures and words and things.

    I'd like to see a "Connections" page. Not just love connections but many emotions--maybe a fight, make-up, lust, hate, etc. How people connect with one another within a story. That'd be neat and fun to create.

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  9. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Lynn,
    I started scrapbooking a few years ago. . . . . .and then stopped. I made the mistake of looking at other people's scrapbooks which were neat, tidy and precise. The pictures were cut just so, they were placed perfectly spaced from the edges, etc. I looked at those scrapbook pages and thought I could never be so neat and precise, much less creative. However, the smashing idea I like! I think I've been a smasher for years and just didn't know it!!! Although, instead of in a book, I have a cardbook photo box with all kinds of jumbled up things inside. I have an old coaster from the only country bar in Guam (from 1993), a receipt from the Azores where I bought a beautiful little trunk, a lock of my first horses hair. I even have a letter from my grandmother to me in Guam telling me about seeing her first great-granddaughter Jessica (July 1994). My Nana passed away two weeks later. I showed that letter to Jessica just a few months ago because she said she had never met Nana. I said she had, she just didn't remember. All of these memories are wasting away in a box. I think I'm going to Target tonight and start my official smashbook! I might still on occasion try the more formal scrapbook to show to family and friends. The smashbook will be my private memories.
    Tami
    Jacksonville

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  10. bluebamboo8:29 AM

    Oh gosh, I haven't heard the term 'smash book' since high school, though back then it meant something different (at least where I grew up). Nothing inappropriate, just different. It was all questions about your friends. I even HAD a smash book in high school, lol.

    But the grown-up me likes this interpretation of smash book much better. And you're right, I think most females do this naturally.

    For a theme for a page I'd say, with many thanks to Stevie Nicks, "I Begin Again."

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  11. The bits and pieces from when I went to New York and saw Phantom on Broadway would be a great smashpage. Awesome!

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  12. I go in and out of saving things in my journal, but not quite to the level of smashing... mostly it's ticket stubs from movies, travels, recently a signed program page from the local orchestra with the group Pink Martini.

    If I was going to smash a theme page right now, I would do one for the decorating ideas I'm having for my den (aka writing hovel). I have some lovely golden paint swatches already to start out.

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  13. A memorable and special theme would be one that contains all the road trips and vacations that we have experienced. Awesome.

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  14. Don't enter me - I just bought a kit (okay, two) for myself! What a cool idea. Mine won't be quite as artistic as yours but I think it will be a ton of fun.

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  15. Great photos which are unique. What an idea. Definitely one filled with family and a family tree.

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  16. Anonymous9:03 AM

    Pages for my kiddos as they've grown would be cool. Also, pages for different stages in mine and hubby's lives/careers would be good too. Kiddo's enjoy looking at that sort of thing.

    Stephanie

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  17. I've been putting off doing a journal for my weight loss journey -- I had a gastric sleeve done in February, and I'd love to do a smash-type journal with recipes, pictures, inspirations, and mementos of the milestone celebrations...

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  18. Anne V.9:52 AM

    I've done this for classroom projects and I'll definitely have to add it as a way to sort my writing boxes a bit more! I think I'll apply it to my chainmaille work as well-I have clippings of pictures, instructions, ring sizes, samples, and notes that could really benefit from this. I'd love to win it since the nearest Target is 3 hours away from home!

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  19. A Spring-time theme would be fun. Lots of flowers and sunshine :)

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  20. A while back, Lynn, you wrote about a color book, containing color descriptions to help with writing unique descriptions. I was thinking a Smash book could be an extension of that color book - a physical one that held buttons, photographs, paint chips, silk and dried flowers, or anything else that would give life to the plain ol' Roy G. Biv.

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  21. Anonymous10:33 AM

    Oh wow! Now I know why I hate scrapbooking! I can't be all precise and just put one or two pics of things or moments in time. I want it all, pics my kids drew, momentos from places we went. I would want to do one for each of my kids, one for me about my kids, and then one where I put all the things that inspire me, intrigue me, spark my curiosity. Oooo, and one for my geneology projects! I could go on and on! :)
    I really love your blog because you are always inspiring me to look at the world a new way! So any smashbook you want to show would be great!!!
    Best wishes,
    Leslee
    denlsn@msn.com

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  22. Shizuka10:50 AM

    I've been thinking about "fish out of water," a lot since my POV character is a girl living in a semi-foreign country.
    I'd love to keep a smashbox of things she notices because she's foreign
    and the reverse (maybe on the other half of the book): things she misses.

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  23. I hadn't thought about using this tool as an inspiration board for a novel wip. That's what I would do. I have been slow at finishing my second novel and this might give me a boost as I would be better able to 'see' my location/characters.

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  24. I'm currently writing about four brothers, though am bogged down at the moment with the second one. A smash book on each would help clarify their differences, and their brotherhood...and maybe get me out of my slump.

    I love yours!!

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  25. margaret c.12:02 PM

    I like the idea of a vacation journey; with ticket stubs from sites and pictures that help tell the story. Maybe a menu or napkin from a favorite eating spot, on which I made notes about the food, the view, the company.

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  26. Atropa12:03 PM

    The first thing that sprang to my mind was knitting. Mainly because I've been slowly dreaming up a knitting smashbook/baby book for the last couple of years. (Got started WELL before kids so maybe I'll have it figured by then.)

    I want a scrapbook/smashbook that records the items I knit for each of my kids, which would include yarn scraps and wrappers, extra buttons, things like that, along with pictures of the kids wearing the finished pieces.

    So that's what my mind came up with.

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  27. I think Hidden Gardens would make a great theme. In fact, this has gotten me started on thinking about all kinds of things I could do with this not only in miniature but for my art as well.

    Smiles~
    Marilyn

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  28. I'm thinking I want to try this for world-building with a new project I'm working on. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  29. Ooh, what an interesting idea! I think an interesting one might be scenery - or music, since I use music a lot when I'm writing, to evoke different things.

    Hmm, might have to check this out the next time I'm at Target!

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  30. Wow. A smash book sounds wonderful, so creative to get you, temporarily out of the book to get deeper into the book! If I had a smash book, my book would probably revolve around the different story settings and characters. Though with you, Lynn, I'd love to see a theme related to character's powers, abilities....

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  31. I'm thinking of a garden theme with flowers, plants and veggies.

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  32. Jetsons predictions....seriously. How much of what was considered fantasy in The Jetsons has become a reality. I'd buy that.

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  33. Straight off I thought of my gardening adventures of trying to grow things in the AZ desert, the Phoenix Coyotes hockey season because I save our stuff from attending games(tickets, programs, pictures, fake playoff mustaches etc), and then deployment related stuff because my guy is military and I'm trying to create a memory box or book for his career and after 14 years we have a lot of stuff. Smashing looks fun and I already like the terminology better:)

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  34. This is a great format! I would be torn between two ideas, the first being a 'history' of our family, especially the kids, the various cats, our vacations, etc. so as to hold on to some of those memories. The other, being in the Navy, would be a book about all the places I've been, which in a four year career includes Alaska, Hawaii, other US places, Ecuador and Guatemala. I've always been challenged for a way to 'bring it home' to the family so they can have a slice of what I got to see and do.

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  35. I would love to do a vacation/travel smash book, so I can use all of the various things I always bring back from trips.

    Hey, there is a feature on HGTV's website for a new show called 'Million Dollar Rooms' I think, and one of the slideshows had more pictures from the Aqua Liana estate, I think it's the one that inspired some of the interior setting for the villa in Nightshine. With the water floors/walls? At least I think you posted that from a magazine. Anyways, it's gorgeous and there are some other really cool rooms in the slideshow too. :-)

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    1. You have a great memory -- I was inspired by that particular estate when I was designing the island setting in Nightshine. It is a stunning house (and for those of you who are curious, you can revisit my post here.)

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  36. Anonymous9:06 PM

    Ok, this is something I've not done in regards to my WIP. I like the idea of controlled, chaotic creativity.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    Terri

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  37. An odd idea, but it seems little too frivolous to me. Regardless I think I might try it to develop my supporting characters, they always come out a little too flat for some reason.

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    1. A little oddity and frivolity never hurts, you know. :)

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  38. I'd make one filled with recipes with pictures or whimsical items.

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  39. Anonymous11:18 PM

    I love themed journal pages - i've done them for quilt projects with fabric scraps, block sketch ideas, jotted notes, etc. Also travel journals with ticket stubs, travel stops, etc. And I did one once with home redecorting ideas - pictures from magazines, paint card colors, fabric scraps, anything that looked like it went into my dream room. Stephenia quilter892ataoldotcom

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  40. I'd love to do a smashbook in memory of my brother to give to his kids when they get older.

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  41. It would be interesting, for me anyway, to have a smashbook dedicated to wine tastings, winery visits that I've taken with friends and family or am planning on taking, including lables, photos, ingredients, notes, harvesting seasons, etc.

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  42. Anonymous5:04 PM

    After nearly 40 years of quilting, I'm struck by your comment about a quilt diary......this would be so cool for the amazing king-sized crazy quilt I've been slowly doing for my sister.......so yes, toss Kathleen's name into your clever, magic hat! A smash book would be almost as cool as that quilt!

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  43. I know I'm joining late to the party, but hey! It's before midnight.

    My theme would be my 1st year as a stay at home mom and full time writer. From the mix of the mundaine and crazy house life, to the writer's world of inspiration. A journey of success to my first publication! (I know it!)

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  44. I would love it to document my daughter's summer. She will be one in may. I have a book for her first year - from the adoption to now (and it will include her 1st badly).

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