Prep isn't about "work." Think of prep as a sort of packing for a trip, because after all, fake journaling is a journey and you don't want to forget your socks.
1. How much time do I have to spend each day on this project?
The answer to this question will influence your selection of media and subject matter. For example: if your character is sketching a full, detailed scene in pen and watercolor every day you’ll need to find time to do create that work. On the other hand series of doodles and notes about his life and appointments can be achieved relatively quickly.
2. What type of media do I want to work in?
How you answer this question will effect your time commitment and be influenced by your paper choice and skill level working with that medium. For example: pencil or pen sketches can be quickly finished, but detailed renderings in either media, or sketches with the addition of watercolor or gouache will probably double your time input.
VERY IMPORTANT TIP:
In general it is best to limit the media you use in your fake journal for International Fake Journal Month. Unlimited media will increase you decision making time and thus increase daily project time. It can give rise to frustration. Also you will not focus in on your “character’s” point of view as quickly and surely as if you stick with a limited selection of media and see how he/she uses them. (The exception of course is if your character is a painter who experiments in all media, but while that seems very freeing, you will find that a labor- and time-intensive approach that can lead to frustration.) If you want to use unrestricted media I recommend that you wait until May and then set up an experimental journal that you keep at the same time you keep your regular journal.
3. Does the host book I have selected have contain enough pages for a page a day, or a spread a day (or more!), as called for by my media selection and time commitment goals?
4. If I am going to reproduce my journal images how suitable is the host book?
Does the book you have selected fit easily on your scanner? Do you have to scan each page and put them together in Photoshop? Are you able to photograph them easily? Can you copy them with a black and white photocopier or are details lost because you work in color? These are all things to consider when you select your book. If you do decide to share your pages how you reproduce those pages will add to your daily workload, taking time away from actually working in the fake journal.
5. Is the paper in my host book suitable for the selected media I intend to use?
Keep in mind that suitable is something you define based on the project. Perhaps you want to work in watercolor but the paper is cheap notebook paper. If your character is fine with that you can be too. Making sure the media is suitable for your book is really just making sure you want to work with the two for an entire month, come what may. For instance, working on water-resistant paper like I did last year, with watercolors, might not seem appealing but it worked out because I loved the feel of the medium on the paper and loved the resultant buckling of the paper.
Fake journals are a time to step away from the constraints you might usually bind your journaling activities with. Use acidic papers, use non-archival pens, use paper through which ink bleeds—do whatever appeals to your inquisitive mind that will enable you to discover your character and also push your own journaling boundaries.
6. Am I going to keep my regular journal in April while I also keep the fake journal?
Assess this for time commitment. If you are keeping your regular journal and your usual practice is daily, will you be comfortable keeping it on a non-daily basis if you need to work in the fake journal?
7. Will I work daily in my fake journal?
While it is certainly a worthy goal to work in your fake journal on a daily basis for the 30 days of April, it is not essential. It is also not practical for everyone. It depends on your other commitments for work, family, art, and journaling. I recommend that you set up your schedule to create at least three days a week when you can work on your fake journal. These three days are a baseline at which you will actually begin to feel comfortable with the character keeping the fake journal.
If you are new to journaling or new to fake journaling the three-day-a-week goal is also a realistic approach for success. Anything more will make you obviously happy. If your weekly total of pages (or page spreads if you are working that way) goes below three, then remember to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you have had other things come up to prevent you from reaching your goal. Don’t use those events to make excuses for yourself, just acknowledge that they have happened and look at your schedule with them in mind to find a daily time when you can best achieve your goal. Be prepared to be flexible throughout the month so that you can keep working in your fake journal with satisfaction and success.
8. Remember that pages need to be dated at the time they are completed.
Because of this necessity a “catch-up” session is not possible for fake journaling. (If you use “catch up” sessions you are venturing into faux journaling which I hope to discuss in a later post.)
Your character needs to be in the moment. Now if that moment extends to his completion of two page spreads at one time (he goes to the farm and sketches animals filling those four pages, etc.), great—but remember the parameters. Doing a “catch-up” session also doesn’t give you a sense of being in your character’s mind in the same way living with him/her every day will. And that defeats one of the purposes of participating in International Fake Journal Month.
9. Have I considered reasons to prep?
The obvious reason is that you'll be set to jump right in on April 1 with your materials and even, perhaps, as sense of the journal keeper.
Another reason for doing prep is to create a shopping list. I’m an advocate of using what you have on hand. I had the notebook I wanted to use and the pencils, all on hand. After I completed my prep (as described in yesterday's post) I only need a couple items. When you have worked out a basic plan you can MAKE A SHOPPING LIST and purchase those tools and items you need, again so that on April 1 you’re ready to jump right in. You’re not scrambling and wasting valuable time, or frustrating yourself with extra errands on April 1 when you could be journaling.
10. If I intend to post my fake journal pages on my blog or with my friends how will that impact the process?
If you intend to post your fake journal work publicly I recommend that you journal for a full week or seven entries (if you don’t journal daily, so this might mean you’ll be halfway through the month before you post any of your work). The delay in posting will allow you to become comfortable with your character and get a sense of where the journal might be going. It will also allow you to savor the excitement you feel about the journal without any need to explain it to others. For many people who participate in International Fake Journal Month this is the first time they explore working on an extended project which requires sustained energy and focus. Explanation can drain the energy from a project—energy you need to keep going.
Delaying the publication of your fake journal pages serves one purely practical consideration. As mentioned in item 4 above, reproducing your work will involve scanning, Photoshop work perhaps, or photography. All these activities take time. If you are busy preparing yesterday's pages for today's publication you aren't building your daily habit of working in the journal. After a week or more of journaling in your fake journal, however, taking time to prepare your pages for publication will be less likely to derail your journaling process.
Additionally, delaying the publication of your pages will help you achieve a thicker skin. This is needed to protect you from prying questions that may come up, even from the closest of friends—questions that could derail your efforts. I have found, with people participating in the past, that building up a head of steam, getting pages under their belts, before sharing their work, is an accurate indicator of the probability of a productive month of fake journaling.
Because the fake journal isn’t created by “you” it might seem easier to show. There is a distance between you and the content. But if you are not practiced at creating this distance be aware that it does not naturally develop. Don’t count on that distance if you are new to the process. You and the successful completion of your goals, as well as the discovery of ideas you can bring back to your actual journaling process, are the more important that public feedback. Fake journaling is first about exploring and expanding your creative process.
The subject matter you explore may be darker (or lighter) than your regular work. If your creative self feels exposed it may not follow through with this material.
Start small and expect the process to get intense by the end of the month—either because other commitments rush in to claim your time, or your inner critic chimes in loudly, or you hit issues you weren’t expecting.
Leave yourself open to possibilities. Use the month to work against all forms of rigidity, even those that might develop around your goals for your fake journal.
Finally, as you ask yourself these questions, remember—you can’t think of every eventuality. When something happens to disrupt your intended plan find a work around, while in character! That's all part of the fun.