To broaden your understanding of International Fake Journal Month and the process of keeping a fake Journal I also suggest that you take a moment to read my post "To Prep or Not to Prep…"
In that post I walk you through my process of selecting my 2010 book, my testing of art materials, and how I set parameters for the project's daily activity. This overview will provide a template for your own decisions if you have not worked on a project like this before. There will always be little inconveniences, and sometimes large inconveniences, that pop up. Part of the fun of IFJM is the surprises that you're faced with on the spur of a moment. How you negotiate those surprises will give you new skills to bring back to your regular journal practice.
I harp on this a lot, so this year will be no different. Remember it is important that you consider the time commitment you give to this project. I want you to have a successful 2011 IFJM. I want you to have lots of pages at the end of April, as well as a sense of having reached something inside your journaling process. To do that, to have the best possibility for success I know that you need to keep the daily time commitment small. Thirty minutes is great, sixty minutes is pretty much the end of the world.
Fake journaling is not something that you can do on weekend journaling binges. Fake journaling, just like your regular journaling, is something that is done on a daily basis. Finding time for a fake journal on a daily basis means that you need to look at your life, your current commitments, your family obligations, your work schedule, and then make an honest assessment of how much time each day you can give to this project. Perhaps you'll do a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule and only produce 12 entries for the month. That's huge. If that fits with your life, go with it. It is better to commit to something that is doable than to overwhelm yourself and bow out before you reach your goal—exhausted and frustrated.
If you haven't selected a journal to house your fake journal yet, I recommend that you read this post: "International Fake Journal Month Is Only 56 Days Away! In that post I walk you through some steps that will help you decide what type of journal you'll be using.
For me, because I make my own journals 99.9 percent of the time, IFJM is my opportunity to try out commercially bound journals. You have to think about things like the type of media you'll be using, and who your character is and the type of art that character will be creating. Does he need smooth paper for writing or rough paper for watercolor washes, etc. Will the art be black and white, full of color, lots of collage (so heavier weight papers for pages will work as better support), etc.
Journal size and page size are also important, both because of the type of media you're using (if you use a fine tipped pen and have an 11 x 15 inch page to fill that's a huge time commitment each day) and portability issues (will you be taking the journal with you or will it be sitting on your desk for the start or end of the day?). If you would like to use a commercially bound journal but don't know many choices, read my "Commercially Bound Journals" page at Roz Wound Up, my regular blog. That page will give you some suggestions and possibilities to which you can begin to apply your character's criteria and tastes.
What am I going to do in 2011? Currently the plan is to use a large 8.25 x 11.75 inch Moleskine, portrait, sketchbook—with those slick, yellowy pages that people always complain about. I'm thinking that I'll use acrylic paints if I can't get gouache and other media to work on the pages. I'm not doing any pre-testing of the pages, I'll just see how it goes as my character dives in. One thing I am convinced of is that this year's character does not pre-cut pages out of her journals to make room for collage on other pages, so I expect that by the end of the month the journal will start to bulge at the fore edge.If you've read this introductory material and have selected your book to work in, take a moment to read "Get Ready, Get Set—Now Throw Out All Your Prep…" This post is a sort of final pep talk for participants last year, and the information still applies.
The one potential drawback to the Moleskine plan right now is that when I took the wrapping off the journal it had a rather strong chemical smell, and the smell is coming from the paper. This year I have set aside time to work in the larger format and if the pages don't air out in time, I might have to go with a different book. There's no way I can bend my head over these smelly pages for the working time I've set aside. I have a landscape format watercolor paper Moleskine of the same size that I could use. I am not fond of the landscape format (and I wanted to use those slick pages), but I bought that book 2 years ago and it has aired out. We'll see.
Whether you are a returning participant or this is your first go at keeping a fake journal, the main thing to remember is that IFJM is really, really fun. You get to leave your internal critic behind and go exploring. You get to explore not only new ideas and new character traits, but also new visual ideas and methods (if that appeals to you).
If you are going to spend 30 to 60 minutes a day for the month of April, you need to spend a little prep time now, reading the above links and becoming aware of the ins and outs of the possibilities of the project. It might be that you discover this project is not for you. It might also happen that you end up starting tomorrow (you can keep a fake journal any time, it's just that April is International Fake Journal Month and it's fun to celebrate then!).
If you do decide that this project if for you, I look forward to hearing from you about how the project is going for you—what are your discoveries and epiphanies? Do you have a sticking point or problem you need feedback on? If you do, chances are someone else does too, so I'll try to answer as many questions as I can relating to the practice of fake journaling.
Tomorrow I'll start posting details on this year's contest–drawing. It's divided into three parts. I'll explain the entry process and announce the prizes in three posts. And again this year, you'll be able to help spread the word by putting a small linking button on your blog. (I'll have details about that in a couple days.)
My main goal for today was to get you all thinking about picking up a new journal, and letting your character speak.
I hope it's a great 2011 IFJM for you all!