This week I have received several emails from people asking about whether or not they need to change their handwriting in their fake journal. This is totally a matter of personal choice.
For some people changing their handwriting helps them get into a different mindset and distance themselves from the character keeping their journals. For other people it doesn't even come up, and to switch how they write would be more of an encumbrance than a help.
I suggest that if you would like to change your handwriting you look at the simple options first—instead of printing, write in cursive; if you're right-handed, use your left hand; if you print with caps and lowercase letters, print in all caps; use rubberstamps; or use a lettering stencil.
You might discover, after some thought, that your character has a particular stylistic characteristic. Perhaps he always writes in lowercase like the poet e.e. cummings. Perhaps she writes in all caps because of an emphatic nature. Maybe your character trained as an architect and his handwriting is reminiscent of, or exactly like, the handwriting of other architects. Maybe the slope of your character's handwriting is excessive, or in the opposite direction to your natural slope. You might also have a character who works only with unbroken columns of text, interspersed with paragraph symbols when there is supposed to be a break. The possibilities are endless.
There are grammatical stylistic quirks to rely on as well. If you always write in complete sentences you might find that your character thinks and writes only in phrases. Or he has an interesting way of using punctuation, or leaving punctuation all out! Each of these variants can tell us something about the character who is keeping the journal and allow you to understand him/her better.
Left: Another sketch from the Bell Museum on the same night as the first sketch in this post. Here I worked with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Calligraphy pen, both for the sketching and the writing. If you compare this image with the first image and the handwriting in both, you can see that there are distinct characteristics that start to emerge when you switch the drawing and writing too. Capitalize on that effect in your fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Another simple and quick change to your handwriting can be had simply by changing the tools that your character uses. In the two images used to illustrate this post I have provided examples showing how my handwriting and sketching styles change when I change pens.
If you are looking for a simple way to change your handwriting, while avoiding a cumbersome alternative like teaching yourself to work in your non-dominant hand, consider changing tools.
For my 2009 fake journal I had my character work with a dip pen, which is a tool that is one of my favorites. However, I helped distance myself from the character by having her use a nib that is not my favorite. It is also a nib which isn't fun to write with. I then purposely wrote fast when journaling in that book—knowing that my speed would exacerbate the skips and jumps of the pen, and put additional distance between me and that character. Also, because she had lost all her drawing supplies in transit and was using a borrowed nib, it wasn't a nib she would like or choose and her frustration comes out naturally at various places in the journal, in relation to her work with that tool.
Whichever route you take to distance yourself from your character and his/her handwriting and sketching style, your choices will tell you something ultimately about your own preferences, stylistic tics, and artistic goals (speed, neatness, etc.). You're not out to stump a graphologist. You are simply trying to achieve a little bit of creative distance. Have fun piecing together your character!