Saturday, February 25, 2012

Smash Books: Got a Notebook? Try It!

Have you heard of Smash books? Most people I talk to have not. I hadn't until I saw them at a craft store displayed with all of their snazzy accessories. At first I wrote them off as a trend that would soon evaporate, meant for teens and 'tweens. I continued to consider the concept. The official Smash books (that's a brand-name with a capital 'S') are spiral-bound books similar to a scrapbook . Most of the pages are already decorated with colors, patterns, or drawings on a theme such as flowers, doodles, travels, etc. The Smash book creator is encouraged to add notes and drawings of their own with the pen that comes with the book, and to glue-in photos and other memorabilia with the glue stick at the opposite side of the pen. The Smash book creator is also encouraged to be messy and just get the ideas into the book any old way.

It was this last sentence that stuck in my mind, and I came to see the smash book idea (that's the concept with a small 's') as a great way to organize thoughts. So, low on cash, I decided to make my own smash book with a hard-cover spiral notebook. Evening after evening, I sat with my smash-notebook and jotted down notes about places I would like to go or return to. I clipped photos from old travel catalogs, and maps (some showing tours like the Christmas cruise on the Danube below), and I raided my scrapbooking supplies for stickers and papers.

Wouldn't you love to cruise the Danube at Christmastime, stopping at Christmas markets in Europe's great cities?
I was determined not to make my smash book fussy and fancy like my scrapbooks are supposed to be--those showcase my photos of places I've been. This smash book is supposed to be messy, capturing the dreams and imaginations I hold in my head about these places. The pages came out looking like a teen or 'tween had created them, but that's what I wanted. How often do we adults exercise our unbridled imagination in such a way? I may never visit all of these places, but if the opportunity arises, I will be ready. I included some pages on desired travel gear, too. As I explored the popular site Pinterest, I found more ideas for Smash or smash books. I created my own Pinterest smash book idea board .

My smash book no longer closes, but it's going to get thicker.

If I had stopped right there, this still would have been a fun exercise, but I began to think of people who had visited these places already. Why not ask them what they remember most fondly and keep those memories with my notes? So I asked friends about Italy and India, and included notes from a colleague's talk about a trip to Greece and Turkey. My smash book pages were getting full, so I had to insert these on folded bits of paper like a pop-up book.
My Greece spread with sites to see, notes, pictures, stickers, movie titles, and impressions from another traveler on a yellow pop-up

This is a great way to organize ideas. I finally sprung for a brand-name Smash book and decided to devote 2-page spreads to ideas for future articles. I already have recorded possible sources, drawings, ideas for interviews, quotes, and possible angles and organization strategies for the actual writing. This little 'tween/teen activity has become a great visual organizing tool! Got a notebook? Try it.

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