Take on a new persona, alter ego, or be the same person you are now, except in an alternate universe. Maybe you are a cat person and always draw cats, well for April you’ll start a fake journal and just draw birds, with a passion, as if they were the most important animal on the planet. (You can of course continue drawing cats in your real journal, if it suits you.)
The only catch is that you need to date your entries in present time, as you complete them, i.e., April 1, 2009, 8 p.m., April 3, 2009, 4 a.m., and so on. Oh, and it has to be a self-contained journal, not your regular journal (that's two catches).
There's actually one other catch—it seems to be catching people up. You need to be a person. An animal or inanimate object is not a suitable or workable character for IFJM. How will a dog hold a pencil? How will you get into the mind of a dog who thinks differently and uses his senses so differently from a human? How will you get anything down on a page? It becomes a creative writing project, and an interesting one, but not a project that will work for IFJM. This all goes double for an inanimate object who has no eyes to see, no ears to hear. How will it sense things? You have to do so much spade work to get to a "reality" in which an animal or inanimate object can communicate, that you would have to work on your project all day to set ground rules for yourself before you even started the project. Don't shoot yourself in the foot.Maybe you want to live somewhere else? Well make a daily journal as if you are already there. It may mean that you’ll need to draw from your imagination a lot because things won’t be in front of you, but there are ways around that. Go to an antiques store or thrift shop and draw those items incorporated in a new reality. Or draw them as your daily drawing activity and make up stories about them.
Perhaps you are always working in pencil. Now is the time to become that artist who always works in pen, just go for it. Or if you are always image heavy in your journal, spend some time writing, pages and pages.
Why? because it’s fun, that’s why. And how often in life to you get a free, no-guilt, no-shame, just-go-for-it pass on making things up (after the age of 3 of course)?
How Did International Fake Journal Month Get Started?
I founded International Fake Journal Month in 2001. It went sort of like this:
In 2000 I kept two journals. My regular journal and the journal I was keeping as part of the Minnesota Journal Project 2000. It made me think a lot about journals in general and my journals in particular. (Created a little bit of a crisis actually, keeping two journals.) I spent a lot of time (more than at any other time in my life) with other folks who kept journals. It was actually rather odd! I went from being the only person in the room with a journal to being one of many dozen (depending on the event) drawing away in my journal. (There were 46 participants in the journal project, but they were rarely together all at one time.)
Well, my thoughts led to other thoughts and I decided that it would be interesting to keep a fake journal. (I had kept fake journals for brief periods of time since I was 11.)
My good friend Linda humored my lunacy in 2001 by designing official pins for me. (They are still great conversation starters. The original typographic design can be found on my regular blog, at the bottom of this post, should you want to make one for yourself.)
Every year since 2001 I’ve let other people know, nudged them into mendacity. Some past students have taken up the call in various years, but it’s still a small movement. I figure now that I have a blog I can push a little harder, reach a few more people.
Why Participate in International Fake Journal Month?
If you have to ask why then maybe it isn’t for you. Maybe you haven’t ever wondered what your life would have been if you had entered the Peace Corps or become White House Press Secretary like you planned? Maybe you don’t want to explore the day to day thoughts of the inventor of Never-fade Flavor-packed Chewing Resin (patent pending).
But if like me you are always wondering, “what if?” then it makes perfect sense.
Where else can you have so much fun for only the cost of a journal and a few art supplies? (Well OK, you can have that much fun simply keeping your regular journal, but this is different!)
What Are the Costs and Benefits of Participating in International Fake Journal Month?
The costs are minimal: some sort of journal and some art supplies. You don’t have to go to the place your persona lives, you don’t have to live his life, you just have to jot it down. Buy the cheapest over-the-counter journal you can find (you only have to live with it for a month) and a pencil and you’re all set. Or get a hardbound book with sewn signatures and make an altered book journal for the month. (See an example of an altered book journal here.)
The only real cost in this fake endeavor is your time. And you have to do something entertaining with that anyway right?
As for the benefits—they should already be springing to mind. Freedom to play, experiment, explore (especially if you can’t get away right now because of work, health, or the “Economy”), and an opportunity to toss things up.
When we take a moment to take our habits and jostle them up a bit, what shakes out is self-knowledge. Are we obsessive, are we happy, what would make us happy? All sorts of insights pop up when we give our brain the happy little task of fabrication.
Also, keeping a Fake Journal is non-threatening (and mentally hypo-allergenic!) because if you don’t like a page, it doesn’t matter, it isn’t your journal anyway, RIGHT? (It’s about letting go. It will drive your internal critic crazy!)
Come on folks, make this the best April ever for International Fake Journal Month! (Sure it starts on April Fool’s day, but it isn’t an April Fool’s day joke.) A page now and then, in a journal designated for the purpose, just through April. Could anything be more simple?
Oh, and did I mention that each year there are contests for the participants? See the blog side bar for this year's contests.
Life’s so short, why live only one?
Visit me at Roz Wound Up for other journaling, book arts, and life adventures.