OK, so you got through IFJM. Maybe you completed 30 entries (one a day) or more (several a day) or one a week, or one every other day—it doesn't matter. Now that you are through the experience it's time to look into how that experience went for you. And today is the day to do it, while that experience is fresh in your mind. Please take a moment to sit down with your 2011 fake journal and do the following:
1. Write a brief sentence or two about what your goals were for you, for your character. This might turn into a paragraph, but keep it short, with the barest of facts, e.g., My character was a children's book illustrator/writer and mystery writer who keeps a fake journal which she rarely carries around with her and which she doesn't explain in. I would like to work in the journal several hours a day and fill two if possible, all with her works in progress.
2. Write a brief sentence or two about what happened to your goals, e.g., Life happened, family requirements ate up my free time requiring me to severely limit time spent on this project. I was happy with finding time each day to work on it.
3. Next write something about any epiphanies you had during the month. To do this you might find it helpful to open your journal and look at it page by page, reminding yourself of the journal's progress. Note down whatever comes up, including how a certain entry made you feel, how easy or difficult it was to capture what you intended, how easy or difficult it was to get into character, etc. (I'll be posting a summary of my experience at another time. I don't want this post to get too long!)
4. Write some sort of summation about the project, including what you could have done differently, how you could have sidestepped some impediments, how you might arrange things differently for next year (if you have decided you want to participate in 2012).
5. Set this debriefing aside to read in 2012. You might write a note on your calendar on March 1, 2012 to reread this debriefing. It will help remind you of the experience and your answer to item 4 will help you set up for success in 2012. Or if your debriefing wasn't written in your real journal or as a note attached in the back of your fake journal, you might want to do it on loose paper and fold it up and put it in an envelope with a note to open it on March 1. Whatever works for you—just keep it handy for next year.
6. Congratulate yourself on completing the project, at whatever level you were able to do so. CONGRATULATIONS! You exercised your creativity in a way that pushed your boundaries. Regardless of how far you pushed those boundaries you took that step towards bringing creative play into your life. That's huge. Be sure to pat yourself on your back. It doesn't matter if you posted your journal and only 5 people came to see it or 500 people, or 5000, or if you didn't post it and kept it private. What matters is that you pushed yourself. Congratulations!
7. Take a moment to look forward in your real life. Based on your experience in your fake journal what do you want to bring into your real life. Did you work on sketching faces every day or painting with watercolors? What remains to be learned if you focused on one technique or one subject matter? Is it time to push harder and take a class? Is it time to push for another month, this time in your real journal, on the same subject? Maybe what has come out of the experience is the need for a space of your own (that can be as simple as a side table in a corner—the goal is for a space to work for now). Maybe what emerged is a realization that there is no time for YOU in your life and that needs to change. Or maybe the opposite emerged and you realized that there is too much YOU in your life and it's time for you to branch out into the world in all the ways you've been holding back. Write down a list of new goals for yourself, your REAL SELF, for the coming year (through April 2012). Put this list of goals in your journal, or on your wall (if it's private, because these are private goals for right now). Start exploring ways that you can work on and achieve these goals. Make a to-do list of steps, check it over tomorrow after more research, and again next week after even more research, and then start with step one and you're on your way.
8. Finally today, as appropriate, while setting good boundaries for yourself (i.e., not exposing issues or items that are too personal for public consumption), write a public debriefing which explains how the process went for you and post it on your blog. Send me a link by May 5 and I gather all the links in a post here. I think it is really helpful to have this sort of background information for future participants as well as past participants. Future participants will get a sense of what they are in for if they join in next year. Past participants may see in your experience a way to better structure their time and energies to improve their experience.
Today I would like to thank you all for participating in and supporting IFJM. It started by word of mouth and in a good year maybe 8 people participated in some capacity. Since it went public on the internet in 2009 it has grown into over 50 people who completed the project this year.
There will always be reasons that people have to drop out (internal critic, work, family crisis, health, etc.), there will always be reasons for people not to participate ("What are they crazy?" "My internal critic thinks it's stupid."). It is exciting to me that every year people take the plunge. I want to thank you for giving it a go; for believing that you might possibly learn something about your journaling practice, your creativity, art medium, art techniques, whatever. I want to thank you for making time in your life for creative play and investigation. I believe there are benefits you have gained this month that will appear throughout your journaling life in helpful ways. I appreciate the time you took to try and achieve that.
So, in this next week you'll see my debriefing, a video flip-through of my 2011 fake journal, the rest of my page spreads, and of course our contest winners. Mark you calendars for March 1, 2012 when you can once again get in the fake journaling mode. Plans for next year are already underway here.
Now I'm off to catch up on some fake journal reading at your links.
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