Welcome to International Fake Journal Month 2013!

What is IFJM?
Please read the page "What Is IFJM" for details.
Learn the difference between Faux, Fake, and Fake Historical Journals.

Contests for 2017
Currently there are no contests planned for 2017. Check the side bar "Contests for 2017" to see if this changes.

Participants who Post Their Journals
A list of 2017 participants who are posting their fake journals this year will appear near the top of the right side bar of this blog around April 5. Lists of participants who posted their pages in 2010 through 2016 appear lower in the same column. Please pay them a visit and check out their fake journals.

View a Couple of Roz's Past Fake Journals
Roz's 2009 fake journal takes place in an alternate Twin Cites, where disease has killed the human and bird populations. (It ends up being an upbeat tale of friendship.) Watch a video flip through of Roz's 2009 fake journal here.

Read an explanation of Roz's insanely complex 2011 fake journal.

Tips on Keeping a Fake Journal
Click on "tips" in the category cloud.

Remember, "Life's so short, why live only one?"


Friday, March 28, 2014

Using Your Fake Journal to Fight Creative Blocks

I've been getting a lot of private notes recently from people who are interested in using IFJM as a tool to fight creative blocks. The blocks all vary and are individually tailored (of course, that's how it works), but several are "blocks to keeping a journal." And keeping a fake journal can be used to clear that block in a variety of ways. I wrote about a few of those ways in a note on my other blog to a reader who asked about this publicly on Roz Wound Up, and I think my note might be useful to some folks reading this blog.

Keep in mind that in order to get your April experience going you will need to do a little bit of work in the next couple of days to prepare—you'll need to sit with your REAL journal and ask yourself a few questions so that you can avoid the same issues in your fake set up.

Here's my advice:
IFJM can be a great tool for fighting blockage, for really looking at the cause and finding ways to work around it in your life. 
Be sure to find a way to really limit the time involvement you require each day for your fake journal so that working in the journal doesn't become yet another instigator of blockage, e.g., "I don't have time for the fake journal I really have to do such and such." 
Find something that you can do in 15 minutes or less. 
Think about a character who always puts art or observation first. Imagine what it's like to have a regular appointment for that 15 minutes, or set up situations for the month where you will have outings or instances where you will have 15 minutes at odd times to sketch and journal. 
I would also suggest you keep you supplies to a minimum so you aren't side-tracked with thinking "which medium will I use today?"—picking one medium to use for the whole month and to explore with is something totally doable in 15 minutes a day. 
Also think of what it is you want to say and do in your REAL journal and then ask yourself why you don't do that. (This is best done before IFJM begins. Set an appointment to write, or also do it in small bursts of time as thoughts come to you during the day—just write down what pops into your head and look at it all at the end of the day.) 
Next think about a character who 1. either doesn't want to do those things in his/her journal so you'll do the exact opposite of what YOU would do during the month in his or her journal, or 2. someone who does those things and what does that person's life look like? All of that will help you get into the character for 15 minutes a day. 
And lastly realize that your character is going to have a totally different dialogue with his/her internal critic because he/she isn't blocked. What is that dialog like? That character won't write or journal about that because it is just a fact of life, so you might, when you think of this (maybe before you go to bed at night) take a few minutes to write in your REAL journal about that.  

Remember habit building happens in 28 days. It's more important to get something done in the habit building time than to create something great! First you have to get the habit in place. That's another reason IFJM and fake journals are a good way to start a journaling habit—because you are doing something daily for 30 days. (Remember you don't run a record marathon your first day of training, you may only run around the block. If you're using IFJM to break a creative block on journaling focus on running around the block each day, the rest will come later after you have the habit.)

Also keep in mind that life happens. If you're using IFJM to combat a tendency not to journal and already have a habit of avoiding or putting off journaling when life happens you'll need to work harder to avoid that habit during IFJM and find ways to meet that 15 minutes a day you've set for yourself. That will be difficult for most people in this situation.

And it will feel UNCOMFORTABLE, because breaking a habit (here the habit of avoidance) is an uncomfortable process. Habits (either good or bad) feel good and comfortable to our minds and our bodies because they are habits (ask anyone who's ever tried to change his life in the smallest way). But if we persevere in the breaking of bad habits, by creating new habits, we have much to gain. It's worth a bit of discomfort.

If your blockage is not about journaling but instead is about using one particular medium or one technique more the equation is a bit simpler—you simply substitute that medium or technique into the time you already spend journaling, just for the month. This doesn't mean you won't do any regular journaling, but you may find you do less of that in April. Any habit change is going to take some accommodation and adjustment in the rest of our life.

Again, it might feel uncomfortable to use the different medium you elect to stick with, or it might be difficult to start at the beginning with a new technique. You are still breaking out of your comfort zone and your internal critic is going to jump out and let you have it.

All your character latitude to deal with the internal critic in his or her own way—you might learn some new techniques you can bring back to your real life.

Remember too to be kind to yourself. If you miss a day don't beat yourself up. Just make sure you work first thing the next morning, or set a watch alarm for a time later in the day and keep that appointment regardless of how you feel at the time. It's "just do it" time. Get into your character's mode. Remember too that your character doesn't have blockage, doesn't have a reason to stop so you can be assured that the next day he/she won't even see today's miss as a blip on the grand continuum of life. That's where you want to put your focus too, on that continuum.

One more thing. However wonderful it may be to share your work with others as you go through this journey, and however much you count on people's support when you share your work, if you are working on a block of any sort it may be best not to share your work during April.

I tell my journaling students this about their regular journaling work all the time when I have multi-session classes where we work on good journaling habits. It's fine to share work within the confines of the class where everyone is working on the same plan and developing good boundaries, positive "critique" methods, and understands what the goals are. But in the general world, and even in your own family there will be people who just don't "get" what you're up to.

Would you rather spend all of April not just explaining to those people that you want to journal more and why that is, but why you're using IFJM to find a way to do it? Or would you rather get down and busy at actually changing something?

Why risk a stray comment from someone who actually might even mean well—a comment which could derail you?

If it's time to do serious work and you don't already have good boundaries and techniques for dealing with your internal critic the best time to share your fake journal is in MAY,  AFTER IFJM is over.

Why? Because then no comments can derail you. You're already finished with the project. And you hold it in your hand. You know exactly what it took for you to do it. You may never be able to explain to anyone what it took, or how you even did it, but you don't have to. You just need to know that you did it. And that's the gift you give yourself for getting through the month.

Besides, this year it's "NO Explanations" remember?!

So think about those considerations to as you set up your plan for IFJM 2014. Good luck.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Interview about International Fake Journal Month

Ricë Freeman-Zachery has written a marvelous post:  "What Exactly is International Fake Journal Month, Anyway?" over at "create mixed media."

If this is your first visit to this blog, or your first year to attempt keeping a fake journal, go check it out. She asked questions about how I got into fake journaling, how I made it into a celebration, and she also writes about some of the particulars for participating.

It's a wonderful introduction to IFJM and I couldn't be happier to see the word being spread so clearly and thoroughly. (This is the first post in a series so be sure to check back at "create mixed media" which of course you're doing anyway because Ricë writes about creativity and interviews artists there all the time—getting them to talk about their process so you can be inspired.)

And in the meantime, don't forget my last post here—I still need some selfies for sketching reference for my 2014 fake journal. How you can help is all listed here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Help Me with My 2014 International Fake Journal Month Project

I have posted here and on Roz Wound Up about this call for help with my 2014 IFJM project. Please read the details listed below. I hope that you'll be able to join in and help me.

That's right, I need help with my 2014 International Fake Journal Month project.

UPDATE: 04.03.14—as of today I have more than enough selfies and live models to complete the project so please don't spend time sending me a photo. You can of course read this post and see what I'm referring to. Thanks to everyone who sent in selfies!


In spite of a heavy work load, pressing family commitments, and some work-related travel, I've decided to go ahead with my 2014 fake journal when April 1 rolls around.

However, I've had to think hard about making the project manageable.

It remains to be seen if I've been entirely successful in that regard.

One thing I know is that I want to sketch a lot of portraits as part of this project, and while there are some patient sorts living in the Cities who'll probably agree to sit for me there are going to be a lot of days when I am going to be without a model.

If you would like to help me with my 2014 IFJM project I need you to email me a selfie-jpg from which I can sketch. And the sooner the better so I have options right away on April 1.

Conditions of the Project
1. By sending me your photo you're acknowledging that you own the copyright to the photo. (Please do not send portrait studio photos, the copyright of which is owned by the photographer.)

2. If you send photos taken by another family member (not strictly a selfie, but maybe you couldn't get the angle you wanted), you're acknowledging that it's provided to me as drawing reference with the agreement of the photographer who understands item 3 under "Conditions."

3. By sending the image you're agreeing to allow me to use it anyway I want, and do whatever I want with the resultant artwork. (I don't know what I may do with them beyond posting them on my IFJM blog—use them as illustrations, prints, or do nothing with them. But I will own clear copyright to the originals.)

4. You understand that the resultant drawing may look absolutely nothing like you.

5. I will not do anything pornographic with your image. Your name will not appear anywhere in the artwork.

6. Your head may be placed on a body totally unrecognizable in this universe.

7. There may be text next to my sketch from your image representing my "character's" journaling. This text may contain profanity or whatever nonsense comes out of the character's mind. It will have nothing to do with you; and you'll have no input other than supplying the photo.

What to Send
1. A photographic (no illustrations, collages, or digital renderings) image of you created as a selfie or shot for you by someone as stated in item 2 under "Conditions of the Project" above. The image can be either black and white or color.

2. The photo should not be altered in any way—e.g. don't apply filters to stretch, distort, posterize, or otherwise manipulate the image.

3. The focus of the photograph should be your head, ideally with some neck a little bit of your shoulders—but the main focus of the image should be your face and its expression.

4. The email accompanying the jpg should state that
"I agree to the conditions of the project set forth in the March 23, 2014 post on Roz Wound Up about Roz Stendahl's 2014 IFJM Project. I'm providing the the attached photo for use in that project and have the right to do so. She will own copyright to the artwork she creates from my photo."
5. Your email should end with your complete name for my record keeping process. (If your photo is used during April you'll be contacted for a postal address.)

6. Address the email to me at Rozjournalrat@gmail.com, with the subject line: IMAGE FOR 2014 IFJM

7. The JPG's FILE NAME must be YOUR NAME, to help me with record keeping and contacting you. 

8. Ideally the image you send will be as high res as possible, so that I can blow it up and use it for drawing reference. The following are guidelines:
8.5 x 11 inches
2520 x 3281 pixels
300 dpi
A jpg of that size, saved as a medium to high quality jpg would result in a file that is around 5.8 MB. If your internet connection has trouble with files of that size you can save it at lesser quality or a smaller file size, but the above is optimum.

9. Portraits with unusual facial expressions will be more likely to be selected. Show happiness (with laughter or a broad or goofy smile), anger, fear, concern, compassion, surprise, etc.—Ham it up!

10. Use any sort of lighting you want to cast dramatic shadows or not. Play with the angle you shoot at so that I have to worry about things like foreshortening.

11. While a marvelously creative expression will cause me to select a portrait shot straight-on full-face, keep in mind it's more interesting to me to sketch a three-quarter view where the face is turned slightly to one side, with both eyes still visible.

12. To confuse matters even more, know that I love to sketch profiles too.

13. People with interesting ears, noses, and hairdos have a greater chance of being selected.

14. I tend to prefer drawing people without eye glasses. If you meet the criteria in item 9 I'll perhaps overlook the fact you're wearing glasses and select your photo for a reference. If you have a particularly interesting facial expression I probably will also overlook the glasses. You could also just take the selfie without your glasses on.

15. Don't wear a hat.

16. Photos can be sent to me until April 30, 2014,but obviously the earlier you send a photo the higher the likelihood it will be used. My final day of sketching will be April 30, 2014.

What You'll Get if I Use Your Photo
1. An archival print of the finished art (on 8.5 x 11 inch paper) will be sent to you in via U.S. mail as my thank you. (I'll email everyone involved at the end of the month to ask for postal addresses.)

2. The original artwork for these portraits will probably be large. They will have to be shot not scanned. This will take some time to arrange, so prints will not be available until the end of May 2014 or perhaps later. (if your image was used in the project you'll be sent an email with an expected schedule at the end of April when my sketching project has ended.)

Thank You
I hope you'll take a moment to help me out. I think that this year's IFJM project will either drive me crazy or save my sanity. You can be a part of that! I look forward to seeing your selfies!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Who’s My Character? Why Does My Character Journal?

I received a note from Dana the other day. I’d been working on this post for next week so I’m posting it now. If you’re asking these questions you can take steps to find the answers during your free time this weekend.

Some people wonder how to even get started in a fake journal. Some people wonder if they need to start journaling and a character will emerge. That’s certainly possible. But here are a couple steps to take to discover more about your character.

Sit in a quiet room and think about why YOU journal. Is there something you would like to change about the process? Is there something that you think you would like more of in your journal. Make a list of everything that comes up.

Approach 1.

Ask yourself how you would have to be different to allow those changes or approaches to be possible. For instance if you are someone who always dates your entries and explains everything (and remember this is the year to focus on no explanations) how would it be to let go of that? What type of person can  you envision who wouldn’t care about such things? What would that person do during the day? Why doesn’t that person care about explanations? What does that say about his character traits? (I’m going to use “him” from now on to avoid grammatical gaffs.)

As you ask these questions write down whatever comes up and then when things aren’t popping into your head stop and look over what you have written down.

Are there character traits that are interesting for you to explore? Do you think you would enjoy working with them and what they would produce for a month? Is there something to be learned there?

If yes then start writing a background on your character, noting down anything that comes to mind: You can start with physical characteristics but it’s most important that you capture details about his character and his actions and his experiences in life. How many siblings does he have? Their names? Ages? Are his parents alive? Their names and what they did for a living.

Keep going and ask questions. At some point you will see a path to who that character is and why he keeps the journal he does and you’ll know you’re all set to jump in.

If, on the other hand you found you answered NO it won’t be enjoyable to work with that character for a month and there’s nothing to be learned again, then start the process again. Note different characteristics and some of the same ones and see what comes to mind.

Don’t fret that you’re spending some time brainstorming on this because now is the time to spend a little time exploring who you’ll be, before you get part way through the month and find it unbearable. Time spent now will ensure that you only spend 15 to 20 minutes a day on a doable project. (You can spend longer, but if you’re having difficulty getting a character don’t stress yourself with additional burdens of hoping to create 2-hour art pieces each day.)

Approach 2 

You still start in a quiet room and make that list. But now ask yourself a couple other questions: what media would I like to use? What subject would I like to draw the most? (For me in 2009 it was birds and when I asked who would draw all those birds my character jumped immediately into my brain.)

Maybe you want to work on not laboring over your drawings. (You define laboring.) Then pick a medium that isn’t time intensive.

Maybe there is a particular tool you want to try using.

After you have your list look at it and ask yourself honestly, how much time to I have to spend each day in April on this? Now with that knowledge which of these media and themes or subject matter will work? Aim towards something that simply requires you to be where you would be anyway and pick up your journal, sketch (in character making a comment or two in character), and then put the book down and move on with your life.

Once you have those details clear ask yourself: What type of person would keep a journal like that?

Following Up on Either Approach

Then get up and walk away and do 10,000 other things all day tomorrow. Keep a pad of paper and a pencil handy and if anything at all pops in your mind WRITE IT DOWN. Don’t analyze what it is or if it’s even related to this project, just write it down. It could be a song lyric, or a news item, or an idea for a painting that came to you after hearing a news item. Anything, write it down.

On the following day, when you first get up or have your first free moment, sit down with any lists you made the day before as you did 10,000 other things, and any lists you made the first day. What are the connections between those lists? What pops out at you? What appeals to you.

At any point if a name or an occupation or a location or anything jumps into your mind write it down and sit and think about how it might work for you and where it leads you.

You aren’t planning your month. You’re simply trying to find your character and your medium.

Once the month starts and your character jumps into his journal you’ll have no idea what’s going to come up and that’s great. Just go with it.

For now you are simply trying to get an idea of who your character is and what his past and present might be. And why he journals. Definitely jot that down.

Why? Because throughout April if you know why your character journals you’ll know immediately if you go off track with something he would never include or address—of if you feel pulled to still include such a thing you will know that that thing is telling you something about the character.

At any time in this process if a journal comes across your desk and appeals to you ask if it’s something he would use and if so carry it around for a day and let it fit into your plans. It will probably tell you more about the journal keeper.

Here are Tips To Help You with the Start Up Process



Here is a post to walk you through selecting a journal: International Fake Journal Month Is Only 56 Days Away.

The best tip I can give you, if this is your first IFJM is to keep it as simple as possible. Keep your goals modest. Keep your plans for working every day in the 15-20 minute range. Keep your media simple. Keep your character close to you in that you too will have access to all that he needs access to—coffee shops, sketching locations, subjects to sketch whatever.

Now, if you haven’t read this already, read To Prep or Not to Prep… If you’re struggling with media and which journal, this post shows you how I worked through the process one year, all the parameters I set—including weaning my real self off of sudoku.


Give yourself and your character some options so that on April 1 you can simply take a leap.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Getting Ready for International Fake Journal Month 2014—No Explanations

Left: The logo for International Fake Journal Month shown at the left in this post (and at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

It's time to start gearing up for the 2014 celebration of International Fake Journal Month.

Of course that means a new logo and a new motto.

The motto for IFJM 2014 is: NO Explanations.

That's right, no explanations.

I've deliberately been a little fuzzy in the logo because I either have a massive migraine or think that this helps communicate the non-communication.

First some sad news. This year there will be no commemorative buttons. The project has simply grown too large for me to send out all the buttons. (The buttons are still affordable it's just the darn postage and the special padded envelopes that are pricey.) But not having buttons doesn't stop us from having fun. You can always printout this image and glue it to foamcore board, trim it and attach a pin back! Bingo, a button.

Now some good news. So many folks are participating it isn't feasible to send out buttons.

And some additional good news. When I selected the motto for 2014 I had in mind setting you all an additional task.

Don't gasp. You can still participate in the way you usually do—whatever has been working for you. But if you want to add another dimension to your participation I'm setting some additional parameters for you—actually in a way they've always been set, I just want you to pay particular attention: No explanations.

That's right. This year when you keep your fake journal I want you to pay particular attention to the "reality" of what your character would or wouldn't know, what he or she would or wouldn't write in his or her journal. I'm encouraging you to take the verisimilitude of your project up a notch.

So for instance if your character is meeting someone or experiencing something for the first time he (or "she" understood for the rest of the post or I'll get bogged down in double typing) would probably note something down about that person or thing. But what exactly would he note down?

He might complain about his job, but would he really go into hyper detail about little indignities he can't forget? Might he not just gloss over such things? Or would he keep a detailed list because he's obsessed with "justice" (and maybe just a little scary).

You'll have to decide how thorough your character is. Some might just note a name of a new person they meet, others might write a phone number and address, or a line or two of text describing the person or the thing they are observing.

That's one level to this: how observant and diligent is your character?

Another level to all this is that I'm encouraging you to have no explanations. JUST DIVE IN and whenever possible check yourself before you explain. Is it that important to your character that he explain something or is it important to YOU. If the latter, then leave it out.

This is another way of distancing yourself from your character. It is also a way of changing your character's mode of interaction with the journal.

And if you can distance yourself from your character, then those of you who like to participate in this event in order to set greater distance between yourself and your internal critic will immediately find a greater safety cushion of distance.

It may feel more uncomfortable because your normal mode of journaling is to explain everything. But for this project's duration stick with it and give it a try and see what benefits you can derive. You may end up with a greater respect for your own ability to detail your life when you're done. Or you may come away freed from the restraints or "work" of explaining everything all the time.

One of the goals of IFJM is to help the participants explore new ways to interact with their journals when the project ends. By setting very specific goals and parameters on your fake journal, that are different from your usual behavior, you'll be able to maximize those results.

Now if this sounds all too complicated or uncomfortable to you, or if you find it goes against your plan (good for you for already having a plan for 2014) for your fake journal, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.

Go ahead with your original plan. Just keep your character in mind.

The most important thing is that you participate and explore different ways to interact with your journal.

For some IFJM Participants you've already been exploring the no explanations approach by being extra vigilant about what your character writes down. You've already analyzed you're own journaling process and found yourself hyperdetailed or very non-explaining already. You know your character would never stop in the middle of his fake journal and write introductory paragraphs about his mother because he knows his mother. Nope, not in the journal you're creating. So if he had the need (for whatever reason) to introduce information about his mother you found some sly and realistic way to get it in. Fantastic.

Continue on.

This is something I want you all to think about as April arrives.

I do believe it is important that we all look at how we normally journal, and then distance ourselves from that normal journaling through not only the choice of character (perhaps a different sex, age, city of habitation, occupation, etc.) but in the methods employed by that character to journal. Things that make up that character's voice. His response to his world.

Explore that response; set yourself up to be able to do that. Then sit down every day in April and have some fun.

For now, take some time to select a journal to work in, and spend a little pre-event time with your character so you know what materials he might use in his journal. I'll have more to say about this in March.

I look forward to seeing your fake journals.