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?"


Monday, April 27, 2015

Only a Few Days Remain in International Fake Journal Month 2015—Time to Prepare an Exit Strategy

Depending on when you read this post today you have either 3 or 4 more days to complete in your 2015 Fake journal.

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 Momentum

I 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 Life

Now 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 2015

Readers 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 IFJM

Finally, 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.

Remember: Momentum matters. Don't squander it. Don't take a break. REINVEST that momentum in your next project.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Strengthening Your Creative Muscles

If you are participating in the 2015 International Fake Journal Month (IFJM) celebration then chances are you have just completed your seventh entry in your journal (most participants do an entry a day).

Things might be barreling along at breakneck speed and the freedom you experience being another character is already spilling over into your other work.

For others the end of the week might seem bittersweet—plans for the month seem now further away than April first, your medium of choice is not working in unison with the paper and journal you selected, your character may be in a snit at your failure to grasp his or her true motives for sketching nothing but cigarette butts found on main street, and that sniffle you thought was allergies two days ago is now a full-blown head cold.

What to do?

Don't give up. Don't pack it in.

Realize this:

Starting a creative project of any time is never easy, especially when you are setting it up to dig deep within yourself and mine some essential truths about how you approach art and life.

The first time you participate in IFJM might seem particularly mined with explosive obstacles. You look around and see others (who have participated before or maybe never participated) churning out pages as if there was no tomorrow (or as if they had no other obligations in the world). Your small sketch on the page suddenly begins to seem smaller and more insignificant.

NONSENSE.

Your fake journal is going to be different from everyone else's because you and your goals are different.

Your journal, with its simple parameters that fit in your day also fits your goals, that's why you decided on it. Keep going, keep applying yourself to the goals you set and see what you discover.

If your project now seems overwhelming because you are having to do extra research into what's involved in medicinal botany when you've never grown a plant in your life (I hope I've picked a career no one is using this year—it's sometimes hard to  keep track as characters don't announce it) and that extra research time leaves you with little sketching and writing time—don't beat yourself up.

If the medium you selected is making mud on all your pages—don't give in.

It's time to reassess, and tweak your project so that you can continue on through the month.

After you have completed the seventh day of your project it's the perfect time to reassess. Follow these simple steps, even if you think all is going well.

1. Ask yourself how you are connecting with your character.

2. How much time are you spending on your project each day—if it's more than 30 minutes a day are you on vacation and so have time to spare? If not take a serious look at the time you're spending on the project.

3. Are you happy with the sketches and writing that you are producing? If so, great, don't think more about it for now. (You can look at them again in as week 3 starts.) If you are not happy with your output take a look at what the causes of the dissatisfaction are. Is it because you are judging your writing and art? Do you have issues with your internal critic? If you never have before and now you're harshly judging your output here's a clue, you have issues with your internal critic that you've been in denial over. Take a moment not to address this fact and find a way to silence the critic for the duration of the project. I recommend that you come up with a statement as simple as "Shut UP" or as polite as "I'll speak with you about it in May, I'm sure you'll have lots to say." Use that statement EVERY TIME you find yourself getting into a judgmental frame of mind about your artwork. You might find yourself saying this every 30 seconds if the critic is really holding on tightly. He doesn't want you to go on because you are outside his comfort level. As an artist YOU get to set your own comfort level. Push your boundaries and tell your internal critic to take a hike.

If your "judgment" about your art and writing comes not from your internal critic but from your healthy art-process editor who makes helpful and specific comments for change like "this image's focus is lost here because there are no dark-darks next to the focal point" then use those comments to focus on those specifics in your next piece. BUT BE VERY CLEAR IN YOUR ASSESSMENT.

The one type of judgment tells you to shut down, the healthy type of assessment shows you clear paths for moving forward.

4. After you have assessed items 1 to 3 it's time to look at how you can switch things up to make the best of the remaining time in the project.

You might realize that it's important to simplify locations your character is in—so your character either returns home or stays in one spot for the duration.

You might find that it's important to decrease your time involvement. If so sit down with your character and ask her what she can work on in only 30 minutes. You can do a bit of creative negotiation.

The goal is ALWAYS to do something that is manageable so that you can get to the end of the project.

But it is also about maintaining your creative flexibility.

As an artist it is important to learn when it is time to switch things up within a project and be able to clearly distinguish that from a complex urge to quit.

One of the most valuable things you might learn on this project is your unique artistic temperament triggers. Don't continue day after day to struggle. Instead sit down with yourself and your character, and work out ways to keep going.

Some Possible Shifts To Make To Ensure Completion

1. Immediately reduce your time involvement to 30 minutes a day. If this means you can't do your research, then find a way to work around that. (Your character has to return home where things are familiar to the both of you is the easiest workaround here—but you'll find other creative ways to proceed.) If you're selected media requires 50 minutes to make a successful painting and you can't spend that this year then scale back or switch media, have your character ponder on it in your journal, and get on with something that you can work with in that time frame. This is creative reaction in action.

1b. would of course be change the medium you're working in. Let's face it, if you intended to work in watercolor and by day 2 realized that watercolors don't work in the book you selected think creatively about how your character can still work if he changes media or changes scope, or even simply starts working on loose sheets of watercolor paper, all the same size (or not) which will be placed in a box at then end of the project. DON'T SUFFER.

2. Let go of your expectations. Perhaps you thought each page would be a work of art? Well in any journal worth anything coming out of a creative mind there is experimentation and MESS. YEAH for MESS. Embrace the fact that your character is comfortable making a mess and still creating.

3. Adjust your expectations to what is possible given your life constraints around you. If you are sick realize that will have an impact. Keep working, but perhaps you only work for 15 minutes a day. If it's the middle of tax season and your real job is "accountant" what the heck are you trying to do? Really? You can keep your fake journal in March or May next year, and right now you can do something that takes only 4 minutes a day because that is all you have and I still want to encourage you to finish the project.

4. Ask your family to cut you some slack. If there are lots of demands on your time and you feel everyone else's needs are coming first, sit everyone down in the family and say, "Hey, I need this 30 minutes each day and unless you have a bleeding wound or limb loss don't knock on the door" (Or tell them to stay out of whatever room you use to create in.) One of the great gifts you can give yourself when working through IFJM is an improvement in family dialog over creative time (yours) and their expectations to have dibs on your time.

5. Join the Facebook IFJM Group and start posting your journal pages there. You don't have to post all of them, just one or two. Then ask people questions. "My character shift is difficult because of X, how are you dealing with that?" The group is pretty engaged in sharing their work and their thoughts. And they are up to speed on what a fake journal is and why you are trying to keep one (OK they don't know your exact reason for trying to keep one unless you tell them, and you don't have to tell them that and they can STILL give you encouragement). There are several folks in the group who have participated in past years and know the pitfalls and issues that can arise. They can assure you that what's happening is first week jitters.

End of Week One Final Thoughts


Working on a month long creative project like IFJM is a way to build and strengthen creative muscles. You'll learn something about the media and approach you decide to take. If you have set your parameters well you'll learn something about the creative process and your process that will help you go forward in your journaling.

But strengthening creative muscles is a process similar to strengthening any muscle in your body. You would not decide to run a marathon in May and go out today and run 26 miles. If you have never run before you would run around the block once a day for a couple days, gradually work up to a mile, and from there alternate between 3 and 5 miles and so on, until you were able to improve both your speed work and your endurance and combine them in the final 26.6 (or whatever it is) run.

IFJM is exactly the same. If you've never done a creative project like this before you have to pace yourself. And if you are pacing yourself you'll see things you don't like about the first week's effort—BUT YOU MADE IT! And you're going to keep making it and keep improving if you keep having these self-assessment type discussions with yourself.

Remember this, don't kill the will to be creative by overburdening it. You can over burden that will by setting too expansive a project, too labor intensive a project, too research heavy a project, and even a project that is too dismal (sad, morbid, frightening, happy, joyous—whatever the opposite of your general disposition is).

Take a moment today to assess where you are in the project, how it is going, what is working, what isn't working and how you can change that aspect.

You are one quarter of the way there. At the end of this week you'll be halfway there. Keep going. Allow yourself to see this creative project through so that you can learn from it and use it as a springboard for other projects. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Free Webinars on International Fake Journal Month: You Can View the Videos!

In February and then again on April 1, 2015, I had the fun experience of being interviewed by Diane Gibbs of The Design Recharge Show about International Fake Journal Month.

Our first chat went overtime and we got caught up in materials and my background and so she invited me back.

You can see that first interview from February 11 in this post on my regular blog; that linked post includes additional information about books and other things that were mentioned in the webinar.

The April 1, 2015 interview provides an excellent introduction to IFJM and fake journaling with suggestions on how to discover your character and set manageable goals for the project so that you have the best possible outcome—which is of course to learn more about yourself and your process.

You can see the April 1 video at the link in the previous paragraph. (I never seem to be able to embed videos in Blogger and get them sized so they work.)

I'd also like to suggest that you spend some time rummaging about in The Design Recharge Show's archive. Diane Gibbs has interviewed a lot of designers and artists and typographers on topics ranging from the creative spark to running a business. There's a lot of great information there.