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 2015
Currently there are no contests planned for 2015. Check the side bar "Contests for 2015" to see if this changes.

Participants who Post Their Journals
A list of 2015 participants who are posting their fake journals this year appears near the top of the right side bar of this blog. Lists of participants who posted their pages in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 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?"


Friday, May 22, 2015

A Small Peek into Another 2015 Fake Journal

Image ©2015 Iona

Through crossed wires I didn't get Iona's links up. It's been a while since the group links post went up, so rather than risk people missing it I've posted it here with two of her images.


You can see all of her 2015 fake journal on her blog here.

Her character worked both in black and white and in color. For the color work she used only 3 primary colors of gouache. She enjoyed the limits, but found that working in color also broke the flow of her work over the course of the month. She has plans to do a future project all in black and white.

Image ©2015 Iona

Friday, May 15, 2015

Claudia Dominguez Gives Us a Peek into Her Approach to Her 2015 Fake Journal

Image ©2015 Claudia Dominguez, from her 2015 fake journal.

As a first-time participant in the project Claudia Dominguez elected to post about her progress on the Facebook group. Because of that her images were not posted elsewhere and she gave me permission to post the images included here. Click on any image to see an enlargement.

From these images you'll see that she created strong, colorful illustrations all month. Her wrap-up is heartfelt and personal. What I saw all month was someone beating her inner critic, and I think her work shows that. I'm glad that Claudia is keeping Josefina close by for her fearlessness! I'm glad Claudia is believing in herself. I'm glad that she switched formats and started to use large sheets towards the end. This is a great reminder how we all need to adapt as our projects go forward and change and expand.

Image ©2015 Claudia Dominguez, from her 2015 fake journal.

Here is what Claudia wrote about the project:

GOALS: I needed courage. am a visual artist but I have always been rattled by fear. I have had pretty bad experiences in art school. (in that many of my teachers agree that I should not pursue art) and the critiques of graduate degrees and such have frozen me in my pursuit of art and my love for it. I have been working on a really personal and intense graphic novel and I have been having trouble following through with it. I was so afraid of not being able to deliver. I needed courage and to believe in myself now more than ever. 

I created the CHARACTER OF JOSEFINA to help me out. She is a super duper illustrator that knows that everything she touches is gold. She is not afraid to make art and believes in her gifts. 

She surprised me from the very beginning. 

Image ©2015 Claudia Dominguez, from her 2015 fake journal.

THINGS I LEARNED: 

1. That I do have it in me! Josefina can finish pieces and she can do it well. With little research and in short bursts of time. if she can do it , I can do it too!

2. My inner critic is EVERYWHERE and I really unveiled it with this exercise. Instead of procrastinating on projects I can now see fear for what it is and address it head on, or in gentler ways. (I haven’t won the battle but it is a huge success for me to see fear for what it is as opposed to let it control my actions) 

3. I am usually very prolific and this time around. I slowed down to feel myself, the place around me and to express that back. I realized how I had been running around in circles afraid to really look at what I was doing. 
Image ©2015 Claudia Dominguez, from her 2015 fake journal.

4. Josefina was not pleased with a plain sketchbook. I realized I need to make them special, make them my own. It sends a clear message to my brain, when I take the time to make a book, that what I do matters. ( I signed up to Roz’ bookbinding class! ) 

5. In the middle of the month Josefina had a rant about what she wanted and jumped out of the sketchbook into larger (11 by 14 ) pieces of paper. That required more time but these compositions were also more satisfying. she had no problem solving problems on the fly. The lesson here is that when I believe in myself I come up with odd and marvelous characters like Private Mermaid! or the Superhero of Tea!

Image ©2015 Claudia Dominguez, from her 2015 fake journal.
6. EXIT strategy: Not to exit! ha! I am keeping Josefina until her fearlessness spills onto my other projects irrevocably. I will turn in a drawing made by Josefina every Wednesday and Sunday. My family is far away so I travel a lot so if I am away or in any kind of time crunch I cut out small squares so that I can sit and remember the feeling of courage for at least 10 minutes. I will keep Josefina until next April! or until I am confident I don’t need her any more. 


That is all I have for now. Thank you for making this event.  I will certainly participate next year. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cathy Sutton on Her 2015 Fake Journal

Image ©2015 Cathy Sutton; from "Mabel's Adventures in Estheenian."

This was Cathy Sutton's first year participating. Her character Mabel's journal can be seen in its entirety at this link. She departed from the guidelines of the project towards the end, but in doing so she reached another personal goal. Creativity will do that for us.

Here's what Cathy wrote about Mabel's Adventures in Estheenian:

First off I totally enjoyed this project.
I learned some very helpful things while writing about Mable and the Estheenians , and some surprising things about myself. 
Rather than babbling on about it, I'm going to list those things in point form.
My bet is many others learned the same lessons and also had some gob-smacking realizations. 
* the most surprising thing I learned was during the last week, I realized that I was overwhelmingly affected by Mable. When I was writing and drawing her confusion to how she felt when the realization came that she probably wouldn't see her Estheenian family again, I had a lump in my throat the size of a cantaloupe. I didn't cry- but I could have. 
*i found it a great experience to look at life through the eyes of a precocious 7 yr old. I thought about a lot of 7 year olds I remembered and how they thought. They cut straight to the chase. They look at a situation and make a straight forward decision. Too young for biases and prejudices. As Kerash said,"pure."
* there was so much more to say, but one entry isn't enough to say it all. I wanted to talk about language—surely Mabel picked up some Estheenian, and surely the kids (Taj and Feen) picked up some English like yes, no, hi, Mum.
No time. 
*i loved solving the problems I created—like washing and cleaning, no water, light emitting showers that clean everything.of course they won't work, but it's hard to question a society the creates nutritional pills, but also has a food simulator. (I was going to have Taj make bushels of m+m,s.) there were so many I ran into, that I had to invent something to overcome my problem. (Jet cart for instance, or the possibility of Fayjec, Feen, and Taj meeting her family. My god that would have caused days of problems. So thinking ahead was a big issue. 
SOME OF THE PROBLEMS I had with the project: 
* my art was not so hot. Some of the pictures were tiny and my pens and eyesight let me down. Lol. 
* the printing with my non dominant hand was a time consuming problem. 
*it took way way longer each day than I thought it would. 
*stretching started in the 2nd (I think) week of April. I was buried in art trying to juggle it all (whine) as well as my jewelry business. 
* I got behind and panicked. 
* I caught up and felt guilty because at the end I was doing a couple a day. At the beginning, I only wrote at the end of the day when real journaling would occur—after you've gone through the day. 
I've never written anything before and coming up with story, then illustrating it was a treat. I will do it again, but give myself a break and not register for a class at the same time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Anne Bray—2015 IFJM Journal—Enid's Return

Image ©2015 Anne M. Bray. Enid's Journal.
Anne Bray has been participating since I started the fake journaling blog in 2009. She always brings something fun and clever to the party. This year she brought back her character from last year, Enid.

Anne wrote the following project write up:
I had so much fun this time. The A-Z Challenge gave a good framework for the daily posts. Narrowing it down to A-Z scarves made it simpler, in an odd way. 
I really like being Enid. I like her spunk. (Will she become a regular on SpyGirl? Maybe just maybe). The catalog card idea worked well. That part I was able to prep in advance so that all I needed to concentrate on were Enid's thoughts and designs. (I did my journaling and posts in the morning before my 6am pre-commute routine). I now want to make catalog cards for my entire wardrobe. Every garment has a story to tell. 
The A-Z thing brought to mind my internship at M. Knoedler Gallery in NYC, when I was a junior in high school. They had just bought a second brownstone next door to their 70th Street location and had moved their library of auction catalogues and artist monographs. One of my duties was alphabetizing it all! (I did not "liberate" any tomes). Enid acted as a portal into my young awkward teenage self. 
Using the same character for a second year made the fake journaling process all the easier. I was able to slip into Enid's skin like a comfortable tee.  Keeping to the black ink was frustrating and liberating at the same time. I could focus on the silhouette of my designs and not get distracted by color and pattern.

I'm already day-dreaming about how to approach next year. And I think Enid won't be side-lined until April 1, 2016. Her antics can be followed using this URL.
You can read more about the A-Z Challenge here.
Spygirl blog can be found here.
And you can also visit Anne M. Bray at her website.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

International Fake Journal Month 2015 Closes with a Look Back

Image ©2015 Ellen Ward, from her 2015
fake journal. 
At the end of each IFJM I ask participants to look back at what they have created during the month and do a bit of a project assessment. Some look at their goals and what were met and what stretched them, others look at how they mentally dealt with flopping in and out of character, others examine how time management got the better of them or how they fit it all in. The wrap-ups help us all by letting us have a peak at their process. It enables us to look for similar traps when we set up our own long-term projects, and allows us to savor their successes even as we plan new projects.

The following artists have all posted their fake journals publicly and listed their wraps ups in the same location. I encourage you to go and check them out and see what they have created, the characters who have come to live, and the discoveries the artists are sharing.

I hope you'll leave messages for the artists to let them know what you think.

And I also hope that next year you'll consider joining in on April 1, 2016 to begin creating your own fake journal!

In the following days there will be posts from other participants who didn't post their journals publicly but who nevertheless have completed a wrap-up. These will be shared here, with a couple images from their journals. Please check back to read those wrap-ups as well.

Participants with publicly posted wrap ups:

Ellen Ward (one of her journal entries starts this post) has returned to International Fake Journal this past April to create a color-filled journal "wandering through Breugel's Hunters in the Snow." You'll enjoy this exploration of another world.

Jan Blencowe joined the project for the first time in 2015. She made a journal full of media and color exploration. Her wrap up includes a list of her goals and a point-by-point examination of those goals. She also writes about her regular artistic process and how that process shifted during IFJM and what she hopes for going forward. She also has a video flip through of her journal at this post.

Lisa-Marie Greenly provides an explanation of her process and approach at this link in Facebook. She spent the month moving about the Cities seeing with new eyes and capturing what she saw there and the interesting folks (I can't say more without a spoiler alert). She spent April with another focus as well:
My go-to medium for the last year has been drawing with my handheld device [Galaxy Note2 w/S-Note program & stylus].  It fits my needs of being with me at all times, fits in my pocket, and has the added benefit of being a camera as well as being hooked to the internet for easy posting of images.  I am trying to explore the device to a stage where I feel fluent with creating on it .  Galaxy Note2 Phone= sketchpad, pens, pencil, highlighters, camera, and laptop.. The only thing to add is I have to remember to bring a charger cord with me at all times.  Having my drawing pad run out of juice makes it useless for actually making a phone call [remember... It’s also a phone.. Sometimes I forget].   
It's fun to see some digital work in this project!

Dianne B. Carey is another returning artist. She blended collage and sketching into daily pieces that departed from her usual aesthetic (again I don't want to have to do spoiler alerts). She thinks that the specific format and goals helped her complete more work in this year's journal. I found it interesting to see how she avoided the items she usually incorporated in her work in order to get into the character's mindset. And she embraced the "I have to fit some art time into my day," perspective.

©2015 Dana Burrell. The Wrap-up page in her 2015 fake Journal.
Dana Burrell has also been participating in IFJM for several years. You'll enjoy reading her illustrated wrap up which covers supplies, goals, and her approach.

Another frequent participant is Michelle Himes. You can see her wrap up for 2015 here. She kept her goals simple—completing a page for each day and using a medium she wasn't accustomed to using. She took a fun virtual trip to Hawaii. The project also allowed her to come to a decision about watercolor pencils. I think that's always a great insight we gain from fake journals—more information of media we use for an extended time!

Lily White joined in with a project that limited her media to new choices. She further immersed herself in these new choices by restricting herself to "unusual tools" like credit cards, plastic utensils, bottle caps…no brushes. And she ended with a new fun piece that I think qualifies for Journal Infiltration! (See below.)

Check back this week for more artist's wrap-ups of their 2015 International Fake Journal Month Journal!

"Thanks Roz for creating IFJM! What a brilliant idea!" writes Lily White writes on her wrap up collage. (I'm going to need to get some green glasses! I like them. (Image ©2015 Lily White.)




Monday, April 27, 2015

Only a Few Days Remain in International Fake Journal Month 2015—Time to Prepare an Exit Strategy

Depending on when you read this post today you have either 3 or 4 more days to complete in your 2015 Fake journal.

Just when you thought that you were in the final stretch I'm reminding you of one more task you need to complete before the end of the day on April 30: develop an exit strategy.

Most of you started on April 1 and have worked in character most, if not every, day in April. If you're in that group now is the time to start thinking about what happens on May 1.

Keeping Up the Momentum

I am encouraging you right now, today or tomorrow, to think about what projects you might want to start working on beginning May 1. What new ideas have popped up, what old idea won't be silenced? What idea would benefit from the dedication of 30 minutes a day towards it's completion?

Make a list of these projects.

Assess what your mental frame of mind is and where your energy level is at. Be realistic. But don't baby yourself—avoid using words like, "I've earned a break." Think instead about how you can take all this momentum and energy you put into IFJM and carry it forward to your next project.

Look at that list you made moments ago and ask yourself which project is "most pressing" or interesting? Where can you best spend your energies?

Also take time this week, before May 1, to lay the groundwork for your next project. Gather the paper you need, or select a new journal, or sort out the supplies you'll be using on the next project.

After you have made your list of projects, realize there are potential "traps" ahead.  If you have trouble with your internal critic beware that he will likely pop up and tell you the first thing you are going to do on May 1 is clean the house, or do the chores you've let slide (his words), etc.  Don't listen. Hold off on giving up art as a priority for ONE MORE WEEK.

From May 1 through May 7, take your 30 minute a day commitment seriously and simply shift gears. Apply the energy and time you've already made part of your life to that new project you've decided is worth flowing into.

This is the best way that participants who wanted to develop a daily habit can maintain that daily habit. Instead of collapsing in a heap at the end of the month and gasping, "I've made it"—keep going. Having a daily habit is about exactly that—doing something daily. So keep doing your artwork daily, whether it is in your journal, a series of paintings, or a writing project you have waiting.

Bringing Other Benefits from IFJM into Your Daily Life

Now is also the time to look at what you've accomplished. Leaf through the pages of your fake journal and let the creation of those pages impact you. Absorb that you have created this volume of work simply by showing up every day for a month. Don't judge the work, just absorb the volume of it. This is what showing up looks like.

Some of you may use the final days of IFJM to tie up loose ends in your character's "story." That's useful. But remember, IFJM isn't about stories, it's about process.

In the next few days, look back at those pages you've created and think about your process. What was your process before IFJM, what was it during IFJM, what would you like it to be after IFJM?

Make a list of aspects of journaling or art making that you used in IFJM that you would like to bring forward into your actual daily practice.

Make a list of any glitches or problems you encountered and how you met them. What techniques were successful in meeting your daily "appointment," in ignoring your internal critic, in loosening up and being messy, in settling down and doing tightly rendered art, in grappling with a new medium…?

If something didn't go well during the month write it down in another list. Then look at that list and brainstorm ways you can work on those issues going forward. Most people find that simply by making this type of list after first acknowledging what worked and the benefits they felt, that they can start to immediately develop a new plan to go forward with their art goals to counter act those aspects which didn't "work." And they have the momentum of this daily project to help them make immediate headway.

Writing a Wrap Up of Your Experience During IFJM 2015

Readers know that I believe self-evaluation is the most important tool artists can exercise. Taking a moment to honestly reflect upon your experience so that you tailor how you work on future projects for greater success is the best way to clear obstacles out of your path and ensure that you develop the skills needed to meet your art goals by planning future projects from a position of understanding.

When IFJM ends I'll be writing to remind you to do a wrap-up of the experience. This is something you can do privately, or you can share it publicly on your dedicated blog. However you do your wrap up it is essential that you do a wrap up. It's a key part of the project.

During these last few days of the project, when you stop to reflect on what worked and what didn't work, what you still want to work on, and the new projects you want to work on—jot down ideas for your wrap up as well. Keeping the awareness of the up-coming wrap up in your mind will focus your thoughts.

Enjoy the Final Days of IFJM

Finally, savor the next 3 to 4 entries you make in these final days of your project.

Organize your life so that you continue to have the time to devote to the project.

Breathe deeply before you set about your work, so that you can be your character fully.

Banish thoughts of "I must finish this," "I must tie this up," "What am I going to do about X?"

Simply BE with your character in these final days and enjoy all that being in the present moment with that character's reality brings to you. Allow his or her awareness to be yours completely. Allow any remaining hesitations to evaporate. Enjoy it.

Then on May 1, pick up your new journal or your new paper or media and dive right into your next project.

Remember: Momentum matters. Don't squander it. Don't take a break. REINVEST that momentum in your next project.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Strengthening Your Creative Muscles

If you are participating in the 2015 International Fake Journal Month (IFJM) celebration then chances are you have just completed your seventh entry in your journal (most participants do an entry a day).

Things might be barreling along at breakneck speed and the freedom you experience being another character is already spilling over into your other work.

For others the end of the week might seem bittersweet—plans for the month seem now further away than April first, your medium of choice is not working in unison with the paper and journal you selected, your character may be in a snit at your failure to grasp his or her true motives for sketching nothing but cigarette butts found on main street, and that sniffle you thought was allergies two days ago is now a full-blown head cold.

What to do?

Don't give up. Don't pack it in.

Realize this:

Starting a creative project of any time is never easy, especially when you are setting it up to dig deep within yourself and mine some essential truths about how you approach art and life.

The first time you participate in IFJM might seem particularly mined with explosive obstacles. You look around and see others (who have participated before or maybe never participated) churning out pages as if there was no tomorrow (or as if they had no other obligations in the world). Your small sketch on the page suddenly begins to seem smaller and more insignificant.

NONSENSE.

Your fake journal is going to be different from everyone else's because you and your goals are different.

Your journal, with its simple parameters that fit in your day also fits your goals, that's why you decided on it. Keep going, keep applying yourself to the goals you set and see what you discover.

If your project now seems overwhelming because you are having to do extra research into what's involved in medicinal botany when you've never grown a plant in your life (I hope I've picked a career no one is using this year—it's sometimes hard to  keep track as characters don't announce it) and that extra research time leaves you with little sketching and writing time—don't beat yourself up.

If the medium you selected is making mud on all your pages—don't give in.

It's time to reassess, and tweak your project so that you can continue on through the month.

After you have completed the seventh day of your project it's the perfect time to reassess. Follow these simple steps, even if you think all is going well.

1. Ask yourself how you are connecting with your character.

2. How much time are you spending on your project each day—if it's more than 30 minutes a day are you on vacation and so have time to spare? If not take a serious look at the time you're spending on the project.

3. Are you happy with the sketches and writing that you are producing? If so, great, don't think more about it for now. (You can look at them again in as week 3 starts.) If you are not happy with your output take a look at what the causes of the dissatisfaction are. Is it because you are judging your writing and art? Do you have issues with your internal critic? If you never have before and now you're harshly judging your output here's a clue, you have issues with your internal critic that you've been in denial over. Take a moment not to address this fact and find a way to silence the critic for the duration of the project. I recommend that you come up with a statement as simple as "Shut UP" or as polite as "I'll speak with you about it in May, I'm sure you'll have lots to say." Use that statement EVERY TIME you find yourself getting into a judgmental frame of mind about your artwork. You might find yourself saying this every 30 seconds if the critic is really holding on tightly. He doesn't want you to go on because you are outside his comfort level. As an artist YOU get to set your own comfort level. Push your boundaries and tell your internal critic to take a hike.

If your "judgment" about your art and writing comes not from your internal critic but from your healthy art-process editor who makes helpful and specific comments for change like "this image's focus is lost here because there are no dark-darks next to the focal point" then use those comments to focus on those specifics in your next piece. BUT BE VERY CLEAR IN YOUR ASSESSMENT.

The one type of judgment tells you to shut down, the healthy type of assessment shows you clear paths for moving forward.

4. After you have assessed items 1 to 3 it's time to look at how you can switch things up to make the best of the remaining time in the project.

You might realize that it's important to simplify locations your character is in—so your character either returns home or stays in one spot for the duration.

You might find that it's important to decrease your time involvement. If so sit down with your character and ask her what she can work on in only 30 minutes. You can do a bit of creative negotiation.

The goal is ALWAYS to do something that is manageable so that you can get to the end of the project.

But it is also about maintaining your creative flexibility.

As an artist it is important to learn when it is time to switch things up within a project and be able to clearly distinguish that from a complex urge to quit.

One of the most valuable things you might learn on this project is your unique artistic temperament triggers. Don't continue day after day to struggle. Instead sit down with yourself and your character, and work out ways to keep going.

Some Possible Shifts To Make To Ensure Completion

1. Immediately reduce your time involvement to 30 minutes a day. If this means you can't do your research, then find a way to work around that. (Your character has to return home where things are familiar to the both of you is the easiest workaround here—but you'll find other creative ways to proceed.) If you're selected media requires 50 minutes to make a successful painting and you can't spend that this year then scale back or switch media, have your character ponder on it in your journal, and get on with something that you can work with in that time frame. This is creative reaction in action.

1b. would of course be change the medium you're working in. Let's face it, if you intended to work in watercolor and by day 2 realized that watercolors don't work in the book you selected think creatively about how your character can still work if he changes media or changes scope, or even simply starts working on loose sheets of watercolor paper, all the same size (or not) which will be placed in a box at then end of the project. DON'T SUFFER.

2. Let go of your expectations. Perhaps you thought each page would be a work of art? Well in any journal worth anything coming out of a creative mind there is experimentation and MESS. YEAH for MESS. Embrace the fact that your character is comfortable making a mess and still creating.

3. Adjust your expectations to what is possible given your life constraints around you. If you are sick realize that will have an impact. Keep working, but perhaps you only work for 15 minutes a day. If it's the middle of tax season and your real job is "accountant" what the heck are you trying to do? Really? You can keep your fake journal in March or May next year, and right now you can do something that takes only 4 minutes a day because that is all you have and I still want to encourage you to finish the project.

4. Ask your family to cut you some slack. If there are lots of demands on your time and you feel everyone else's needs are coming first, sit everyone down in the family and say, "Hey, I need this 30 minutes each day and unless you have a bleeding wound or limb loss don't knock on the door" (Or tell them to stay out of whatever room you use to create in.) One of the great gifts you can give yourself when working through IFJM is an improvement in family dialog over creative time (yours) and their expectations to have dibs on your time.

5. Join the Facebook IFJM Group and start posting your journal pages there. You don't have to post all of them, just one or two. Then ask people questions. "My character shift is difficult because of X, how are you dealing with that?" The group is pretty engaged in sharing their work and their thoughts. And they are up to speed on what a fake journal is and why you are trying to keep one (OK they don't know your exact reason for trying to keep one unless you tell them, and you don't have to tell them that and they can STILL give you encouragement). There are several folks in the group who have participated in past years and know the pitfalls and issues that can arise. They can assure you that what's happening is first week jitters.

End of Week One Final Thoughts


Working on a month long creative project like IFJM is a way to build and strengthen creative muscles. You'll learn something about the media and approach you decide to take. If you have set your parameters well you'll learn something about the creative process and your process that will help you go forward in your journaling.

But strengthening creative muscles is a process similar to strengthening any muscle in your body. You would not decide to run a marathon in May and go out today and run 26 miles. If you have never run before you would run around the block once a day for a couple days, gradually work up to a mile, and from there alternate between 3 and 5 miles and so on, until you were able to improve both your speed work and your endurance and combine them in the final 26.6 (or whatever it is) run.

IFJM is exactly the same. If you've never done a creative project like this before you have to pace yourself. And if you are pacing yourself you'll see things you don't like about the first week's effort—BUT YOU MADE IT! And you're going to keep making it and keep improving if you keep having these self-assessment type discussions with yourself.

Remember this, don't kill the will to be creative by overburdening it. You can over burden that will by setting too expansive a project, too labor intensive a project, too research heavy a project, and even a project that is too dismal (sad, morbid, frightening, happy, joyous—whatever the opposite of your general disposition is).

Take a moment today to assess where you are in the project, how it is going, what is working, what isn't working and how you can change that aspect.

You are one quarter of the way there. At the end of this week you'll be halfway there. Keep going. Allow yourself to see this creative project through so that you can learn from it and use it as a springboard for other projects. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Free Webinars on International Fake Journal Month: You Can View the Videos!

In February and then again on April 1, 2015, I had the fun experience of being interviewed by Diane Gibbs of The Design Recharge Show about International Fake Journal Month.

Our first chat went overtime and we got caught up in materials and my background and so she invited me back.

You can see that first interview from February 11 in this post on my regular blog; that linked post includes additional information about books and other things that were mentioned in the webinar.

The April 1, 2015 interview provides an excellent introduction to IFJM and fake journaling with suggestions on how to discover your character and set manageable goals for the project so that you have the best possible outcome—which is of course to learn more about yourself and your process.

You can see the April 1 video at the link in the previous paragraph. (I never seem to be able to embed videos in Blogger and get them sized so they work.)

I'd also like to suggest that you spend some time rummaging about in The Design Recharge Show's archive. Diane Gibbs has interviewed a lot of designers and artists and typographers on topics ranging from the creative spark to running a business. There's a lot of great information there.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Case for Simplicity

By today, if you're going to participate in International Fake Journal Month 2015 you've probably already selected the journal you're going to use, picked the media you'll work with, and set some boundaries and limits for your character. If you haven't done all those things yet, you probably have been juggling several options and are waiting until April 1 to just dive in with one. That's fine too.

If you're new to the process of keeping a fake journal you might want to take a moment to read my post "Time to Start Thinking about Your 2015 Fake Journal" because it covers a bit of my process on how I move from the choices of selection and allow them to inform my character choice.

Something very important to consider is "Who's My Character? Why Does My Character Journal?"
In that post I outline a couple different approaches for discovering who your character is.

That post also includes links to posts containing tips on how to get under your character's skin and what to do on the first day.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to really maintain the journaling aspect of the project. In your joyous rush to start working or writing, remember to check yourself and ask, would my character really write this? really talk about these people he sees all the time this way? really mention these basic facts about herself? Who does those types of things when journaling? No one, we always write from complete knowledge and without a need to spell everything out.

Don't be stymied by that, but use it as a nudge to get even more creative. If it is important to you to get details into the journal discover natural ways that your character would get them in. For instance one year it was important for me to get a map of the house in a journal, it actually related to surveillance the character was under, but she was using that map for another purpose as well and  I could justify getting it in there because of that. Otherwise there would have been no need to have it there.

When in doubt leave things out. Remember that we aren't writing fiction, though some of the approaches used might be similar to how some fiction writers work. We're writing in the first person and we don't want our characters looking like morons having to explain everything to themselves.

If a story line emerges as you work you can always plant items as they come up, that will seem unimportant to anyone looking at the journal, but become important later.

A simpler approach, and I really encourage people to go for simple for the sake of completing the project, is to let go of the idea of story and simply document that character's life.

If you elect to do that the mental gymnastics of what you can or can't include evaporate because all you have to do is deal with the 15 minutes of the character's life that you are experiencing when you are working in the journal each day as that character.

This is also the most useful approach for discovering something about process and your own journaling habit, because it is focused totally on journaling. You might have a character for instance who works visually in a totally different medium from one you work in, so every day your journal time is to experience that medium and what that character thinks of that medium or how he uses it.

You will end the month with 30 pages of work in a mode that is different from what you would have done in those circumstances and you will have had the opportunity to try that other approach on.

And that approach is SIMPLE. You can keep your character's backstory in a separate notebook if you feel the need to write about it, but in the journal you just have the daily expression of that person's creative effort.

If you want to read a more involved discussion of whether "To Prep or Not to Prep" please check out this link.

The Main Reason to Keep Things Simple

There is one inescapable reason to keep your IFJM plans simple—Life.

Your regular life is going to happen whether or not you are expecting it to. A family member might become ill, you  might need to change jobs, your child joins the cast of a play and you have to drive to rehearsals, your dog needs surgery and care, the best freelance job in the history of the world flops on your desk with the deadline of April 18…So it goes.

How much time can you afford to spend each day in April on this project? Remember this project is about daily entries done at the actual time they were thought of. You are not sitting up late on Saturday night writing 6 entries for missed days. (Remember that's Faux journaling.)

Assess your life's obligations and schedule. Where will you put your journaling time into your day?

How much time can you afford to spend on this project? I suggest that you try to keep your time to 15 to 20 minutes each day. Past participants have found that lends itself to successful completion. (Anyone spending longer amounts of time than that has usually been through the project before and already has a sense for how to fit the journaling into his life.)

If you sketch slowly and paint even more slowly, doing a finished illustration every day is wishful thinking. You'll become bogged down and stressed by the second day of the project. Then you'll want to quit by the end of the week.

My goal in encouraging you to participate is that you COMPLETE your project. And that in completing your project you learn something about the journaling process you can bring back into your regular journaling habit.

I don't want to see anyone go out and exhaust himself and feel crumpled down in failure.

So think about TIME MANAGEMENT.

What can you reasonably do in 15 to 20 minutes a day, and what type of person would be keeping that type of journal?

Setting clear and doable boundaries which allow both for stretching of yourself and your understanding as well as completion of the project are key to having a great IFJM. They also happen to be key to any creative endeavor.

The best thing about IFJM is the opportunity to throwaway the pride or ego which attaches to our work, and view work through the eyes of another who doesn't have the same constraints or bounty that we have. In doing this something magical often happens on a personal level—and that's the great goal.

Finally, if you are using IFJM as a way to work on the aspect of daily habit (and many folks do this) it's important that your project is simple enough that you can complete a segment of it on a daily basis.

There is nothing so satisfying as 30 pages (or spreads if you work that way) of entries in the character's "voice" or "style" at the end of the month. Nothing. It has a completed weight and significance that make the effort fun and worthwhile; and those pages show you ways you can plan to use your energy intensely focused on other projects.

Take a few moments today and tomorrow to read some of the suggested links in this post and think about "simplicity" and how that relates to your project.

Jot down what your goals are and the time you will have to get your goals accomplished each day. Do they contradict each other? Now's the time to make some adjustments so you can hit the road running on April 1. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

To Post or Not to Post, and Where? And Other Pitfalls to Avoid in International Fake Journal Month

New participants frequently struggle with the issue of whether to post their fake journal publicly or to keep a private fake journal.

I encourage all first time participants to consider how they can best serve their creative process.

If the issues they want to confront in their fake journal are intensely private, or simply intense, I think it is best for them to not post their journal entries in their inaugural year. Instead I suggest they keep a private document through the month and after April decide what if any of it will be publicly displayed. (Perhaps only a portion with a wrap-up which they could supply to me to be posted here. See “Wrap-ups” in the category list.)

In this way new participants avoid dealing with a barrage of questions that range from the “I’m confused, what are you doing this month?” to the “You know, you really SHOULD have done X differently, and Y doesn’t make sense in the construction you’ve created.” From the well-meaning to the snide, comments can derail the creator if he isn’t firmly fixed on a goal or a course of action.

If this is your first time going through the process I recommend that you consider this approach. The most important thing about your participation in this project is that you work with and protect your creative process.


Past participants can still write to me via email immediately and provide me with a link for the participants’ list.

The only thing that is changing for new participants is that you can write to me as soon as you have 6 entries completed (which for most people will mean they will write to me the morning of April 7). The email should come to me at rozjournalrat at gmail dot com and the subject line must read "Participants List."

Please be patient if you do not see your name go up on the blog roll immediately. IFJM is something that I do for fun. Work and eldercare often keep me away from the computer for long stretches and my first duty when returning to the computer is work. If you don’t see your name on the participants’ list in 4 days, then I recommend that you write to me again checking that you have used the right subject line. (It’s how I locate appropriate messages in the stream of mail we all get these days.) I also tend to do things in “blocks.” So if I get one notice from someone but am pressed for time I will often wait until I have 3 or 4 people to add to the list at the same time—time management rules here.

Another question I get about posting publicly is whether or not you need a dedicated blog for IFJM.

The simple answer is no.

But of course it’s more complex than that.

Most participants create a dedicated blog because they like to separate their IJFM entries from their regular work, their regular blog posts, the eyes of their clients or friends and family who wouldn’t understand the IFJM entries, or the project in general.

Our friends and family certainly don’t need to know everything we do. And our clients probably shouldn’t.

Separating your IFJM work onto a dedicated IFJM blog also prevents the possibility of confusing people you know and eliminates the “helpful” comments received from people who aren’t involved in IFJM.

Participants setting up a dedicated IFJM blog insulate themselves from well-meaning “negative” comments or sarcastic comments from passive aggressive types such as “Gee I see you have a lot of time on your hands.” (To which of course the only possible reply is, “Yes I manage m y time very well, thank you. Sorry you don’t.”)

The reasons to create a dedicated IFJM blog are countless and individual. I recommend you stop and consider your unique situation.

If you go ahead with incorporating your IFJM entries into your regular blog post stream be sure to devise a way to link them through tagging and grouping available on your platform. In the link provided in the participants’ list you will only have that FIRST POST’S link. Once readers are on your blog they must immediately see how to navigate and discover your other IJFM post or they will become frustrated and leave.

That defeats the point of public posting—especially when you are frustrating the one definitely interested group of readers.

Another possible way to deal with confusion when posting on a regular blog is to group all your week’s IFJM output into one weekly post. Perhaps each Friday you compile a post giving all your previous week’s entries, or every Sunday. Whatever works for you. This will enable readers to see more of your IFJM work quickly and easily, and the continuity of your IFJM posts and journal will not be constantly interrupted by other posts.

I’ve found in the past that people without dedicated blogs have more frustrating interaction with their regular blog readers about the project and that is not helpful but intrusive to the creative process.

Make it as easy as possible for those who want to find your IFJM entries to do so. Going through a lot of unrelated posts is something you think might be fun for them and maybe you would like feedback on your other work, but in reality the fake journal people are often only interested in your fake stuff during April (they can return another time) and will skip most of the other posts. They are busy and have to get back to their own fakery. (In the past several years several participants have asked that I make dedicated blogs mandatory and these are just some of the reasons they have expressed.)

Also, think hard about what your topic and parameters in your fake journal are going to be. Will it be something you can post in a general purpose blog or a general purpose art blog?

Blogger and Word Press are two entities that offer free blogs if you decide to go with a dedicated IFJM blog. You can then link your fake journal blog to your original blog with an opening and closing post.

In the past some participants have used Flickr to post their fake journal entries. Personally I find Flickr difficult to use, navigate around, and just get to where I want to go and have a sense of flow. Because of that I am always frustrated when trying to view entries posted there, and frankly give up at the first frustration.

I have feedback from others that I am not alone in this. If you post on Flickr because it is easiest for you to do so, that’s great. Keep  your posting process as simple as possible for YOU, so that you will be able to spend your time working on your project. But remember to make it as easy as possible for people who are trying to view your Flickr entries.

This year we have a new way to post entries. There is now a Facebook Group for International Fake Journal Month. 

Currently this is a public group and you can contact me at the group to get admitted. Past participants have suggested that this group become a private group once the month starts. This will enable new participants to post “publicly” to a public who knows what they are doing and can be encouraging. Whether you post there or not you are encouraged to join us there in IFJM-related conversations (though we probably will be all busy working on our journals?).

Go forward whichever way works best for you—because the focus should remain on the creation of the fake journal and NOTHING should get in the way of that—do what is easiest.

And speaking of making it easy—I have written numerous times in tips, tips on fake journaling, and book selection (to name just a couple categories) that you need to consider how easy it will be to scan or photography your  fake journal if you intend to post it (or digitally archive it). If you keep your journal size to a size that will fit open on your scanner so that you can scan a page spread in its entirety you’ll have one scan, not two which need joining in Photoshop. Believe me this time adds up and takes away from time you could be working in your journal.

(Take a moment to look through the category list for tips on media, paper, book selection as well as writing tips. There is also a blog search engine. This stuff is all there for you to look over. It's there to help you strategize some of these issues so that you can have a more effortless and creativity focused experience.)

Last year I deliberately went with an oversized page: 22 x 30 inches. I made this choice because that was what was necessary for the character. But I knew going into that year that I would not try to post entries daily. I knew I would only photograph a couple images as I went along. Most of the images would not be seen until the end of the month “show” where they were all up up on a wall. At that point I had a professional photographer shoot gigapans of the fake show. These images allow the viewer to zoom in on the details to a higher degree than even a quality scan allows.

EVERY CHOICE you make for your fake journal will impact the ease with which the project runs and finishes. The easier the housekeeping aspects of your project remain the less frustrating your month will be.

With that in mind take a moment to consider the media you have selected for use this month. Is it something that will be easily scanned or photographed? For example graphite works are notoriously difficult to photograph (believe me I always groan when given graphite work to use in my work projects).  With most scanners graphite work is a bit easier to handle, but even then there are some pitfalls requiring extra handling so that the impact of your work comes through. Consider such constraints as you move forward with your choices for International Fake Journal Month.

It is my goal in sharing this project and encouraging people to participate that the focus stays always on the creation of their work and the value this exercise can return to them at the end of the project.

Let’s have a great April!