From Puritans to Fitbit: Self-Improvement, Self-Tracking, and How to Keep a Diary

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In 2007, self-styled “guerrilla artist” Keri Smith published Wreck This Journal , a hugely successful journal guidebook phenomenon. Wreck This Journal is described on its Penguin UK publisher’s website as “the anarchist’s Artist’s Way —the book for those who’ve always wanted to draw outside the lines but were afraid to do it” and as a how-to journal work - book with a “subversive” intent: the subtitle and mantra is “to create is to destroy.” Smith’s book is self-consciously positioned as an antidote to a more earnest self-help tradition of how-to journaling (for example, Julia Cameron’s best-selling early 1990s creativity journal workbook The Artist’s Way , which is referenced both strategically and ironically) and is replete with playful instructions such as “Lose this page. (Throw it out.) Accept the loss”; “Tie a string to the spine of this book. Swing wildly let it hit the walls”; and “FIND A WAY TO WEAR THE JOURNAL.” Wreck This Journal updates diary-writing practices for modern readers and connects to a contemporary moment in which acts of self-representation are creative, multiple, and automedial. 1 Wreck This Journal is an Instagram account, a website, and it can be purchased as a physical book (in various formats) or as a mobile app.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Diary
Subtitle of host publicationThe Epic of Everyday Life
EditorsBatsehva Ben-Amos, Dan Ben-Amos
Place of PublicationBloomington
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)0253046955 , 9780253046956, 9780253046963
ISBN (Print)9780253046994, 9780253046987
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Journaling
  • Keri Smith
  • Wreck This Journal


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