Just when you thought that you were in the final stretch I'm reminding you of one more task you need to complete before the end of the day on April 30: develop an exit strategy.
Most of you started on April 1 and have worked in character most, if not every, day in April. If you're in that group now is the time to start thinking about what happens on May 1.
Keeping Up the MomentumI am encouraging you right now, today or tomorrow, to think about what projects you might want to start working on beginning May 1. What new ideas have popped up, what old idea won't be silenced? What idea would benefit from the dedication of 30 minutes a day towards it's completion?
Make a list of these projects.
Assess what your mental frame of mind is and where your energy level is at. Be realistic. But don't baby yourself—avoid using words like, "I've earned a break." Think instead about how you can take all this momentum and energy you put into IFJM and carry it forward to your next project.
Look at that list you made moments ago and ask yourself which project is "most pressing" or interesting? Where can you best spend your energies?
Also take time this week, before May 1, to lay the groundwork for your next project. Gather the paper you need, or select a new journal, or sort out the supplies you'll be using on the next project.
After you have made your list of projects, realize there are potential "traps" ahead. If you have trouble with your internal critic beware that he will likely pop up and tell you the first thing you are going to do on May 1 is clean the house, or do the chores you've let slide (his words), etc. Don't listen. Hold off on giving up art as a priority for ONE MORE WEEK.
From May 1 through May 7, take your 30 minute a day commitment seriously and simply shift gears. Apply the energy and time you've already made part of your life to that new project you've decided is worth flowing into.
This is the best way that participants who wanted to develop a daily habit can maintain that daily habit. Instead of collapsing in a heap at the end of the month and gasping, "I've made it"—keep going. Having a daily habit is about exactly that—doing something daily. So keep doing your artwork daily, whether it is in your journal, a series of paintings, or a writing project you have waiting.
Bringing Other Benefits from IFJM into Your Daily LifeNow is also the time to look at what you've accomplished. Leaf through the pages of your fake journal and let the creation of those pages impact you. Absorb that you have created this volume of work simply by showing up every day for a month. Don't judge the work, just absorb the volume of it. This is what showing up looks like.
Some of you may use the final days of IFJM to tie up loose ends in your character's "story." That's useful. But remember, IFJM isn't about stories, it's about process.
In the next few days, look back at those pages you've created and think about your process. What was your process before IFJM, what was it during IFJM, what would you like it to be after IFJM?
Make a list of aspects of journaling or art making that you used in IFJM that you would like to bring forward into your actual daily practice.
Make a list of any glitches or problems you encountered and how you met them. What techniques were successful in meeting your daily "appointment," in ignoring your internal critic, in loosening up and being messy, in settling down and doing tightly rendered art, in grappling with a new medium…?
If something didn't go well during the month write it down in another list. Then look at that list and brainstorm ways you can work on those issues going forward. Most people find that simply by making this type of list after first acknowledging what worked and the benefits they felt, that they can start to immediately develop a new plan to go forward with their art goals to counter act those aspects which didn't "work." And they have the momentum of this daily project to help them make immediate headway.
Writing a Wrap Up of Your Experience During IFJM 2015Readers know that I believe self-evaluation is the most important tool artists can exercise. Taking a moment to honestly reflect upon your experience so that you tailor how you work on future projects for greater success is the best way to clear obstacles out of your path and ensure that you develop the skills needed to meet your art goals by planning future projects from a position of understanding.
When IFJM ends I'll be writing to remind you to do a wrap-up of the experience. This is something you can do privately, or you can share it publicly on your dedicated blog. However you do your wrap up it is essential that you do a wrap up. It's a key part of the project.
During these last few days of the project, when you stop to reflect on what worked and what didn't work, what you still want to work on, and the new projects you want to work on—jot down ideas for your wrap up as well. Keeping the awareness of the up-coming wrap up in your mind will focus your thoughts.
Enjoy the Final Days of IFJMFinally, savor the next 3 to 4 entries you make in these final days of your project.
Organize your life so that you continue to have the time to devote to the project.
Breathe deeply before you set about your work, so that you can be your character fully.
Banish thoughts of "I must finish this," "I must tie this up," "What am I going to do about X?"
Simply BE with your character in these final days and enjoy all that being in the present moment with that character's reality brings to you. Allow his or her awareness to be yours completely. Allow any remaining hesitations to evaporate. Enjoy it.
Then on May 1, pick up your new journal or your new paper or media and dive right into your next project.