Welcome to International Fake Journal Month 2013!

What is IFJM?
Please read the page "What Is IFJM" for details.
Learn the difference between Faux, Fake, and Fake Historical Journals.

Contests for 2017
Currently there are no contests planned for 2017. Check the side bar "Contests for 2017" to see if this changes.

Participants who Post Their Journals
A list of 2017 participants who are posting their fake journals this year will appear near the top of the right side bar of this blog around April 5. Lists of participants who posted their pages in 2010 through 2016 appear lower in the same column. Please pay them a visit and check out their fake journals.

View a Couple of Roz's Past Fake Journals
Roz's 2009 fake journal takes place in an alternate Twin Cites, where disease has killed the human and bird populations. (It ends up being an upbeat tale of friendship.) Watch a video flip through of Roz's 2009 fake journal here.

Read an explanation of Roz's insanely complex 2011 fake journal.

Tips on Keeping a Fake Journal
Click on "tips" in the category cloud.

Remember, "Life's so short, why live only one?"


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Are You Ready for International Fake Journal Month 2017?

International Fake Journal Month 2017 begins this Saturday, April 1. 

I will try once more to convince you to spend about 30 minutes a day keeping a journal as someone else.

Think of it as a way to try on a personality trait that you would like more of in your life (courage, modesty, energy, balance). Dedicate your 30 minutes a day to working in a new medium without your own hang-ups—as someone who has none!

It's also a way to get your internal critic on the run!

Perhaps the best way I can convince you to join in is to talk about it with you!

In 2015 "Design Recharge" artist and podcaster Diane Gibbs interviewed me about the process of keeping a fake journal.
Part one—is here, we got a little side tracked and talked about visual journaling and sketching in general. So Diane had me back later for part 2!
Part two—is here, this time Diane and I talked about the guidelines and typical pitfalls first time fake journal keepers encounter. This video runs 65 minutes and is a great “short” introduction to the practice of keeping a fake journal.

See the category list in the right-hand column (scroll down) for tips, suggestions, and other cool stuff.

You don't need any elaborate preparation. You don't have to buy materials. Use what you have. You don't even need a journal—you can work on loose sheets (which still have to have a date and time written on them—hey, the guidelines have hefty reasons that feed into the learning and fun).

If you would like to participate and don't want to start a dedicated blog for your fake journal posts, or don't want to post them on your regular blog, or you just want to chat with everyone else who is participating you can contact me and ask to be part of the IFJM Facebook group. You have to friend me first (otherwise I don't seem to be able to find people in the list that comes up during the invite operation); and you need to let me know what your logo on Facebook looks like in case there are lots of folks with similar names, and I need to know what your Facebook name is (of course). That's all.

I'm off to sharpen my pencils! (I'll be using color pencil this year. Well at least I think so…it could all change on Saturday.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Details Matter—International Fake Journal Month 2017

Welcome to IFJM 2017 Preparations!

If you don't prepare before the April 1 start date then SPOILER ALERT don't read past this sentence. I mean that, because I am about to write about the tagline and what it means.

Of course you've probably already seen the rooster logo for this year's event, but you don't know what it means…

Details Matter

The tagline for this year's celebration in many ways is self-evident. Details matter. Details in an image, details in text. Every little thing we notice is a detail. And it all matters.

First a Bit of Background Information

Public participation in this project started around 2001 when some of my students learned how I spent my time during the month of April (every year).

In 2009 I decided that there was enough interest to start blogging about my fake journal process and International Fake Journal Month.

Since then lots of people have participated. Many have returned for each celebration. Some dip may dip a journaling toe in from time to time.

Two of the things I noticed over all this time are
1. People don't pay attention to my strenuous suggestion that they not attempt an historical fake journal.

2. People get hung up on creating a story.

There's not much I can do about item one except to say, "Go read item one above again, and realize I mean it for your own good." People who attempt to write an historical fake journal end up doing piles of research, bury themselves under research, and become overwhelmed and stop before April is over. 

Even if they manage to finish the process leaves a bad taste in their mouths because in hindsight they see (or someone points out to them) the historical anachronisms of language, art style, social norms, dress code, and art material availability.

I studied the Victorian period in graduate school and I'm daily grateful that I don't have to worry about all the layers of clothing, the meaning of fan movements, and who the heck is standing or sitting in my presence in relation to my gender, age, and station in life. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I don't want to have to imagine my character in those situations and making time to write present moment journal entries. And even worse, I don't want to have to sort through all that stuff and decide what to include in an entry because would my character really comment on it all anyway? It's the little things in historicals that trip you up!

Writing journal entries at the present moment is a key component to IFJM. So if your character is saying something at 4:15 p.m. it needs to be 4:15 p.m. when you sit down. Keeping track of an historical character's actions with that specificity would send me running from the room.

You may recall I frequently urge you to pick someone who is somewhat similar to your real self—just so you can manage these types of nuances. It's very easy for us to imagine what a contemporary would have for a daily schedule.

I always suggest to people set on writing something set in the past to hold on to their great idea and character and go over to National Novel Writing Month in November. If that's your goal for this year I suggest exactly that to you.

Item two on my list is a bit more complicated. People see my fake journals and notice that often there is a narrative thread, or even that the chronology of the entries has a specific serendipity.

This is NOT A REQUIREMENT of IFJM. It's not even recommended.

In fact it's simply an artifact of how I live my life. I think chronologically (even when I spilt that chronology in complex ways) and I am devoted to the narrative thread. I believe that people tell stories about themselves all the time—to themselves and to others.

But as a life-long journal keeper I know that our journals are not clear narrative lines. It's only after decades that you can really see the narrative coming through. 

The exception might be a travel journal as that journal has a specific beginning and ending date.

The point of IFJM, however is to create a fake journal, not a narrative document. And because many people try to create a narrative they end up getting stuck or overwhelmed, don't finish the project, and feel defeated.

The point of IFJM is to create a fake journal and not a narrative document—because you are working on creative skills not fiction writing skills.

IFJM is supposed to be easy. (Maybe not easy breezy—because you do need to show up and put yourself in your character's mind space and create something visual or written or both.)

IFJM is most of all set up to be doable.

If you think about who your character is (write a little profile about all his likes, dislikes, etc. before April starts. Include details about where he works, what he eats, if he cooks, how he dresses, etc.) you will be able to sit down each day in April, put that person "on." Look where he would be in his day. Mentally shift there yourself, and create something in 15 minutes. Put the date and time on it, and reenter your own life.

That's all it takes. You can of course spend more time than that. Maybe you want to do a finished color pencil drawing and have set aside an hour a day—OK that's not going to happen in 15 minutes.

But the important thing is to set a small amount of time aside and get it down every day. That's how the most benefit is derived from the project. That completed 30-day journal will give you the most satisfaction at the end, if you meet your intention to enter your character's mind each and every day. It's the kind of satisfaction that will propel you into other projects that require stamina and daily practice.

That commitment and result will also help you with the many internal critic issues I bring up in the pages of this blog. Dealing with the internal critic is one of the reasons I went public with IFJM in the first place. I realized, by listening to students who didn't work on longer term projects that they were being held back. Here was something they could do that side stepped the internal critic. 

OK, So Why Is "Details Matter" the Tagline and Theme for IFJM 2017?

I want to encourage as many people as possible to participate in IFJM. I want to them to understand it can be simple (don't let your internal critic encourage you to over think it), and from that simplicity great creative benefits can be derived.

I want them to realize the process is fun and doesn't need a lot of planning or calculating or plotting etc.

But I want them also to do real work, oops I mean PLAY, in which they learn new skills or hone existing skills that will improve their real journaling as well as their real creative lives.

The tagline/themes are a way to give participants a specific way to stretch. 

This year, I selected this tagline/theme because I hope that if people see the emphasis is not on a "finished narrative piece" they will be more inclined to jump in and participate, have fun, and end up with a journal full of possibilities they can take back into their real lives.

Think about what attracts you to the journals you might have read online or in the library. You might love the artwork, that's first to catch your eye. But ultimately your enthusiasm for someone's work comes from seeing how the journal captures that person's life.

That capture takes place through details. These can be a keen eye that illustrates the nature of light, the nuance of humanity, the delicacy and strength of buildings—all through the details they observe and deem important. Or these details can be the specifics of all those observations captured in the text the journal keeper writes next to the drawings.

Details Matter.

It's really that simple.

If you make entries while in your character's head space and include the smells, sounds, sights, and tastes that character experiences you'll have a document that weighs in as more authentic. Additionally the details you decide to include or deliberately leave out tell the reader of that journal something about that person. (This is a lesson you can apply to your own life.)

Why do they make these choices? These omissions? Inclusions? You can't very well write as someone who formulates perfumes for a living and not constantly refer to the odors your character encounters throughout the day. Or if you do what does that tell you about your character?

By practicing how your character focuses his intention you practice making intentional choices for yourself.

Details Matter.

And details are also fairly easy to conjure up. So the price of playing is low. Which is another goal I have about IFJM.

My Hope for All Participants of IFJM 2017

This year I hope is the year you jump off the fence and join in IFJM. Or the year you return, whether or not you've completed a month before. 

I hope you come back and create an approach that allows you to see how details really do matter in our creative lives. 

We need details on the page, whether written or visually observed.

We need details because only when we have details can creation take place. Only with details down on paper can we begin the real work of editing and shaping those details into art. 

Think about this. Your resistance, your internal critic, your own simple sense of "I don't have time to be creative today," will try to talk you out of this simple truth:

Details Matter.

Go for it.

Life's so short, why live only one?


Note:  Long-time participant Dana Burrell just pointed out to me in a comment that "Details Matter" was indeed the 2012 tagline, because she has the Chihuahua Button to prove it. (Mine are all gone.)
I guess I have dementia coming on—or at best lack of sleep! I also decided, after hearing from Dana, that I'm going to trust my gut. This tagline has been rattling around in my brain and I always believe there is a creative purpose to my brain rattling. Also I really, really want to make the point that it is details that matter and not a narrative thread, so that newbies or returning participants who stress about doing something that has a narrative can RELAX and just focus on the details of what their character is seeing and doing and sketching, or whatever. Because it's that experience of capturing the details in their character's journal which will help participants most when they return to their real lives and their real journals. Have fun with it!

Need Tips To Get Started? Please go to the category list and find "Tips" but also read the post "What is IFJM?" A link appears always at the top of the blog page if you forget how to get back to this post. Need some help thinking about your character, selecting a book, selecting a medium in which to work? The category list will help you with that too.



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Roz's Wrap Up of Her 2016 Fake Journal

A couple weeks ago, Dick and I “paged” through the loose boards that make up the 30 entries of my 2016 Fake Journal. It was satisfying to look at them all again, and then pack them neatly in their box. There is a real heft to each entry because they are on boards. Their 10 x 16 inch size is also substantial. (It was very pleasant working without a gutter.) Each day as the stack of painted boards grew and the unused board stack shrank I felt quite productive.

But as always happens, the project gets packed away (it fit perfectly in the 3 inch tall box, no space for even one more!). After we’d gone through them, Dick hoisted it up onto the shelf—and I had a clear table for new projects. (Which right now is filming new online classes.)

The end of a project always seems a bit weird to me. I suddenly have all sorts of free time—which only serves to confirm in my mind my sense that we can always find time to make art, we just often have to “work around” other things in our lives. And even make choices about not doing certain things in our lives to make time for making art. Most important, we have to realize that the “art time” we want, crave, desire, or even need, might need to be adapted to the actual time we can find, but it’s a place to start.

This year, as in past years, was stressful. The folks don’t seem to do well in the spring. CR ended up in the hospital in March, and his recovery in transitional care lasted well into the end of April. This made finding the time I wanted to spend on this year’s project difficult, in fact there were aspects of this project that were more stressful than any other fake journal, because of what I had hoped to do. (My desire not meeting the realities of life.)

This year, just as I had encouraged others when I set the theme, I sought to shift in place. I didn’t pre-think or plan my character, media or approach, until almost the last minute. The exception was I knew I wanted to take time to work with watercolor because I just wasn’t finding the time in my day—instead always defaulting to using gouache or ink. To facilitate this urge to work with watercolor, just before IFJM began, I cut Arches Cold Press watercolor boards into 10 x 16 inch pieces that I would use for this project. That was the only planning I did.

Two days before IFJM began I thought that it would be great if I could work on sketching with pencil and watercolor instead of my usual ink and watercolor. But I decided that while I would work on that during the month I would also work with ink as desired, just to keep things moving. 

I was hoping that I could take 2 hours a day off to sketch. I had cleared away other projects and it seemed doable. However, with my father-in-law’s health emergency it was the rare day when I found a two hour block to work. In fact I don’t think I ever did. I think the fox entry might have taken 90 minutes, but then, like most of the others it isn’t finished. Oh, the three views of the finch, that took 2 hours.

It’s not that I’m obsessed with time, OK maybe a little, it’s just that the night before IFJM began I knew that I wanted to shift very little indeed, and have a character who loves to draw the same things I do (birds, people, dogs), but who works in watercolor and graphite mostly, and who spends a leisurely time working on glazing and glazing. Her sketches, on boards are her studies and experiments, practice for other pieces. And she doesn’t write a lot. 

I’ve had a lot of characters who don’t write a lot, who don’t think about process. It’s funny to me that I had a character who doesn’t think about her process this year, but because I was thinking about how to work out the glazing I was doing and get the contrast I wanted without ink, I found myself thinking a lot about process. And that often got in the way of me being “in character.”

And then when I would think I couldn’t get into character I would find that the painting took me into character and everything would be right again.

But there was no way to find the time block that I wanted each day so I did what I always do during a project—I looked for the key elements that were most important to me, and still doable, and found a way to adapt to save those elements.

By letting go of the desire to spend long periods of time on this project I was able to hold on to working in glazes with watercolor, and test out my new watercolor palette that I’ve had sitting around for almost two years with very little attention—certainly no focused attention.

I had also hoped to read several books on watercolor, to remind myself of all the things I used to do with watercolor in the 1980s, and all the things I haven’t yet thought to do with it. But the five or so books I stacked up to read were left unread throughout the month. There simply wasn’t time to “research” and paint, so I opted to paint.

I have found that I enjoyed the watercolor so much that the first week after IFJM I continued to work in watercolor on boards, and also used the same watercolors in my regular journal sketching. 

(I’ll be doing a review of my watercolor palette later this summer, on Roz Wound Up.)

I came out of the project with a few new favorite colors, a love of Arches Cold Press watercolor board, more patience with glazing (it’s the drying time that kills me—towards the end of the month, but always when sketching Dick from life, I resorted to a hairdryer to help speed things up), and a renewed enjoyment of the squirrel mop! (Most of the paintings were executed with 3 sizes of mop; only the fine details at the very end of a painting session may have been added with a #12 round.) I found that the mops allowed me to be loose and play with the paint while at the same time control things enough for glazing purposes.

This project also raised questions in my mind about what other projects I wanted to do in the future. With time at such a premium I’m tired of sprinting. I am looking at ways to carve out longer sessions in my days to make those projects possible. It’s a lot to think about. In anyone’s life there are fixed commitments—work and family; exercise and care of one’s own physical health. Starting the online teaching in 2010 just as the folks required more attention has been an interesting juggling feat. I’m already using realizations that occurred during IFJM 2016 in my self-evaluations and goal setting. 

While there were many days during April when the project was frustrating to me I relied on my usual “make it work” attitude to keep going, to modify as needed. Letting my character have more of a voice as the month progressed was the natural reaction to getting to know her as I went along. I would say for me that’s the best argument for doing a little pre-planning, so you know the character before you get going and have a full 30 days with him or her, instead of a “ramp-up” time as you feel your way. 

Any project you can come out of wishing it wasn’t over is a great one. And in response to that I’ve found ways to take some of this project forward in my life and I’m grateful for that.


Hardest thing about the project: Not using gouache for 30 days. Gasp!

Thanks again to all the 2016 participants, whether they shared their journal pages on the public list, or shared pieces in the Facebook group it was great to see what you were doing and what your characters got up to. And it's been great to read your project wrap ups!

As time allows I will be doing a few "process" posts showing various stages of my pages. These will appear on Roz Wound Up. It's a little difficult because I would become so engrossed in painting that I would forget to take "stages" photos. But seeing even the initial sketch might be fun in some instances. I have already discussed with Dick the need for a set up a way I can automatically tape as I paint. Some of the paintings, saved at the very last minute, or blown apart earlier than that could then be used as teaching aids for my students—or cautionary tales. I'm sure this will happen before IFJM 2017. It remains to be seen, however, if that character will sit still! 

Note: If you're new to this site and want to see other 2016 fake journals please look at the participants list in the right-hand column labeled for 2016. Further down the column you'll find participants from past years. In the past two years we've had a Facebook group where people have posted. That's worked great to get people immediate feedback and encouragement. If you are interested in participating in 2017 (and I hope you'll consider it) I encourage you to join the Facebook group in February 2017. 

Also, take a moment to read some of the explanatory articles I mention at the top of this blog, with links. That will give you a sense of this project and the potential benefits. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

April 30 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches).
This sketch was made with a Pentel Colorbrush (Sepia). They are
always watersoluble. Watercolor washes were added, then
gouache was added as a final layer. Click on the image to view an
enlargement. (Some rubberstamp ink as well of course.)
The final "page" in my 2016 fake journal. My character makes it home despite the flooding and she continues her experiments with cold press watercolor board, using a Pentel Colorbrush and watercolor and gouache.

I will be posting my wrap-up of my 2016 International Fake Journal Month project either tomorrow or in a couple days. I hope you will check back to find out how the project went for me and what my original goals were.

If you would like to view all the entries in my 2016 fake journal please go to the category list for this blog and select "Roz's 2016 Fake Journal." All the entries (which are page entries for each day of the project will load in a list. You can scroll down to the first entry and then scroll back up to see each entry in order, stopping to click on a listing if you would like to see an enlargement of the image.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

April 29 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches). With
pencil sketch and watercolor. Some rubberstamp ink as well. Click on the
image to view an enlargement.
My character seems to have more patience for glazing watercolors when she is working on her watercolor studies than I do.

Monday, May 16, 2016

April 28 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches) with
pencil sketch and Daniel Smith Watercolor. Click on the image to view
an enlargement.
Well the topic is "Shift in Place" this year and it seems fitting my character should enjoy birds as much as I do even if she likes cold press watercolor board!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

April 27 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches). With
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketches and watercolor. Click on the image
to view an enlargement.
My character spends the rainy afternoon sketching in the barn.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

April 26 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches),
with Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch and Daniel Smith
Watercolors. Some rubberstamp ink. Click on the image
to view an enlargement.
My character doesn't let the rainy weather stop her from sketching the animals on the farm.

Friday, May 13, 2016

April 25 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 16 x 10 inch cold press watercolor board (Arches). Pentel
Pocket Brush Pen sketches with watercolor washes. Click on
the image to view an enlargement.
Stuck on the "farm" my character makes the best of the models she has at hand.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

April 24 Entry in Roz's 2016 Fake Journal

Above: 10 x 16 inch Arches cold press watercolor
board. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch and
watercolors, with some rubberstamp ink. Click on
the image to view an enlargement.
As will be made clear in later "pages" my character is "stuck" somewhere with dogs and birds as sketching models.