Last week I wrote about expanding your choices in character development in order to increase your chances for success with your fake journal.
Today I want to write about the opposite (so much in fake journaling is about opposites). There are ways you can narrow your choices to increase your chance for success with your fake journal.
Narrowing Your Character Choices
The simplest way to keep your character choices down to a minimum and still have a great fake journal is to actually be an alternate self of yourself. So you will still be the same age, sex, etc., but you will be in a different job, or life situation, or have a different attitude (suddenly goth instead of little pony). You might also find yourself in an alternate world where things don't work the way they work in our world. This might be useful to you because you have questions about social and interpersonal relations which would benefit from such a close fit.
A next step away would be someone who isn't you, but has only one or two key differences. And so it goes down the long chain of choices.
Sometimes by keeping our creations close we can better examine what is close at hand and with only a slightly skewed sense of perspective we can nevertheless develop new insights.
Narrowing Your Media Choices
I have written about this a lot on this blog. If you have never kept a fake journal before or never worked with a project that requires you live inside the head of another character, then the tools and materials you use for this exploration might actually cause you to lose focus or fracture your attention.
If your character is complex and the issues facing that character are complex, perhaps working simply in pen and ink will be sufficient for your progress with that character. Or perhaps colored pencils gives you the little bit of color that you need as an artist to stay with the project. It's a balancing act that you need to consider before you start your project. Do you want to sit down every day and decide what media to use in addition to what your character is thinking and working on? Wouldn't it be easier to simply pick up a tool and let that character work? Which challenge do you prefer? Which challenge will you still welcome on day 28?
In 2009 my fake journal I worked with dip pen and watercolor. These are two items I routinely use, but I don't use dip pen daily and I don't use it out in the field much. If you look at my 2009 fake journal you can actually find a lot about the character that is not that distant from me—she loves birds, she studies and sketches birds, she loves to ride her bike, she doesn't play well with others (when those others are simply being stupid!), she is a fiercely loyal friend. We also both had to deal with the death of a friend.
In reality I am many things that this character is not—first, I don't live in a post-epidemic, post-apochalypic present. In 2009 the sky was still full of birds, Interstate 94 was still in good repair, and rule of law was for the most part in evidence. Also, I'm pretty gregarious and I do play well with others (especially when they aren't being simply stupid).
Electing to limit my media fit my fake journaling needs in a number of ways. As far as my character's situation went it was appropriate that she only have one medium to work in because she begins her journal by acknowledging that all her tools, supplies, and even her journal, have been lost in transit. She can't simply go to the art supply store for replacements; she borrows materials from others.
Sometimes there are contextual reasons a character does something or uses something. Discovering that and honoring that will help you understand the character and create a successful fake journal.
Next limiting my supplies allowed me to play more with her response to her world, not her materials. And it allowed me to play with a commercially bound journal with waterproof pages. (For me IFJM is always a chance to use commercially bound journals because I tend to bind 99 percent of the journals I use. The use of a commercially bound journal for IFJM forces me to deal with what I am given rather than the "ideal conditions" I typically create for myself.)
I also believe that working with one medium only during IFJM allows me to focus on that medium and explore new possibilities with it, at the same time I am focusing more directly on the character.
In my 2010 fake journal I put further limitations on my character: she couldn't talk, she had memory problems, she only had a rudimentary commercially bound notebook, a pencil, scissors, and some colored papers. What she did with those materials was dependent on how she was trying to communicate. She was only like me in that she was a communicator. I don't have the same constraints she had and it was very challenging for me to wear those conditions for the 30 to 60 minutes a day that I thought about and worked in that journal. I believe that the end result was not only new insight into myself, but a new attitude about pencils.
Since I routinely work in color in my regular journals and I kept a regular journal throughout IFJM 2010, the lack of having color media to work with was not difficult. It actually freed up my attention.
I would urge you to look at ways that you can free up your own attention so that you can get at what it is you want to accomplish with your fake journal. Make conscious choices now about how you are going to proceed. If things don't work out the way you had hoped, or you find yourself hitting a creative wall you can always give yourself permission to ease into something else. By making conscious choices now about your character and your materials you are focusing your intention for the project.
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