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.

2019 IFJM Celebration
IFJM has been suspended indefinitely. Please read the pinned post about this below.

Participants who Post Their Journals
A list of 2018 participants who are posting their fake journals this year will appear near the top of the right side bar of this blog around April 6. Lists of participants who posted their pages in 2010 through 2017 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, April 30, 2010

International Fake Journal Month Ends, and the Seventeenth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the seventeenth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Today is the final day of 2010's celebration of International Fake Journal Month. I finished my 30th sketch and the accompanying text this morning. The glue is still drying on the colored paper insert. Sometime tonight or tomorrow I'll take a little video of the completed journal and post it so that you can "page through it."

I'll still post the remaining images chronologically if you want to stop by and see them in more detail. Also those pages will give me a visual for a few more wrap up posts I will need to make—winners of each of the contests, some post-fake-journal-month notes about what I learned, that sort of thing. Maybe even a couple suggestions that will get you off the fence for next year's celebration?

But right now my focus has shifted to sorting through the two contest folders and making sure I have everyone in the correct folders, meeting the contest rules, etc. I was so excited to have so many people join in this year. I hope that it was a not overly stressful endeavor—in fact I hope it was challenging and fun.

I also am grateful for those who chose to promote the event on their blogs. I am hopeful each year that the project will grow and people spreading the word are a constant help to that.

I was so pleased with the participation on every level this year that I have decided to make a commemorative button (you all know I love buttons) and send it out to all the participants and promoters. So if you were a promoter who included your address in your email and posted the button link to this blog on your blog by April 10 and kept it up until May 3 you'll be getting a thank-you button in the mail. If you participated by keeping your own fake journal and you posted your entries on your blog and sent me links to five such entries (pages or spreads) over the course of April you'll also be receiving a thank-you button in the mail.

The participation contest is over today but I'll do a last check of the promotion blogs on May 3 and have the drawing for the two prize books also on that date. Book winners will be posted here on May 4, but I'll hold on to the books until I also have the buttons to send out at the same time.

So that's the plan for the next few days as the organizational end of this celebration winds down. I'll thank you all at least a couple times over the next couple weeks I'm sure. However, today I would not only like to thank you all for making this an interesting and visually stimulating fake journal month, but I would also like to congratulate you!

I want to thank you all for rising up to the challenge to push yourselves creatively in April 2010. The fake journal that you hold in your hands is a testament to your creative commitment. It doesn't matter if you have a few entries or 30 or 70. It doesn't matter if you filled your book or still have lots of empty pages. What matters is that you followed your intention to stretch your creative muscle and put that intention into practice in your already full life. You carved out time for yourself. You experimented with new media. You tested new paper and books. You listened to that inner voice that says softly "I want to say something." You let that voice be heard over your internal critic.

For some of you it was excruciatingly difficult. For some of you it was easy. For others it was deceptively easy. All of you have something to think about now—your creative process. What works, what doesn't, where do you want to go, what do you want your regular journal to be, how do you want to give voice to your creativity?

There aren't easy answers to any of these questions, and the answers will change over the course of your life. But when you complete a creative project of this nature you give yourself an opportunity to examine these questions and move forward in your life and art with intention instead of impulse.

Don't get me wrong. Impulse is great. But if you give impulse a little guidance by doing a little reflection on your creative process you are able to clear out a lot of clutter and find a sustaining satisfaction in your work.

Don't worry if your friends and family look at your fake journal and mumble, "What's up with that?" (Or worse, tell you "that sucks.") You don't owe anyone else an explanation—only yourself.

Don't worry if your fake journal isn't at the artistic level you set for yourself or to which you normally work. That's your internal critic coming up behind you to whisper in your ear and cause you to doubt yourself and question your intention.

Every page of your fake journal might be complete shit. You might have just created 30 pages of the ugliest sketches and paintings and idiotic writing on the planet—it still doesn't make your internal critic right. It's a step, one that you took, despite the chattering of that internal critic. Future steps will be easier because you took one. (And this will continue to be true every day you take such a step.)

You hold in your hands a document which says "I allowed myself to create; I allowed myself to take risks." I think creative risks are like loose rocks on a hillside. We scramble over them, slipping at times, at other times finding sure footing, so that we can get to the top of the hill and have a better view.

I think having a better view (of ourselves, our creative process, our place in the world, the larger world, the people in our world) is what regular journaling is all about.

My wish for all of you who participated in this year's celebration of International Fake Journal Month is that you take what you learned about yourself and your process and use what you learned to make your regular journal practice stronger, deeper, more challenging, and integral in your life.

Thank you for sharing your journals with me, and for allowing me to share mine with you.

This is the point where if you were all here in Minneapolis we would go over to Cafe Latte and have a piece of cake and laugh and share our journals, and ooh, and ahh. One of us, I'm not saying who, would probably even cry a bit. There would be absolutely no hugging (I'm not a hugger)—OK some of you would hug on the way out to the cars. I wouldn't be annoyed at all. We would all drive home with insanely crazy smiles on our faces. But we would drive carefully because the satisfaction of successful play had grounded us all.

That's what successful play feels like. It has weight and substance. It doesn't evaporate. You have a tangible reminder on your bookshelf right now. Remember that this year as you observe your real life. You can choose to have that feeling every day.

Congratulations on pushing yourselves creatively.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Preparing for End and the Sixteenth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the sixteenth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

On day 16 the author of my fake journal fell in love with this person's nose. I have to say I did too.

This morning, the author of my fake journal completed the penultimate sketch, and for me there's a definite tug—"What am I going to do on Saturday?" I know what's happening Friday when this wraps up. It became obvious about a week in, and then it became inevitable, then it didn't seem so, and then again it became so. But what about Saturday, with this time I have always set aside for the fake journal? It happens every year.

In my April 25 post I urged you to make plans for May 1. I'm repeating that urging so you know how serious I am.

In the past some participants have actually felt bereft when the celebration is over. And they miss their fake journal author.

Well, maybe, if you are very attached to your fake journal author he/she can write you letters during the year and stay in touch. You don't have to completely let them go. I'm a huge fan of writing letters and would love to see the illustrated letter make a come back—think about it.

Other participants are happy to see the fake journal authors pick up their tools and leave.

Regardless of how you feel about your fake journal author, please remember that May 1 is the perfect time to establish a useful and on-going switch of journal practices to carry forth in your regular journal. You get to take anything good that you unearthed and apply it forward in your regular journal. You get to leave behind anything annoying, unfruitful, and not useful—knowing that you learned in the process how to approach those "things."

If you worked hard in your fake journal all month, daily, or almost so, don't take a vacation on May 1—keep going. Life and journaling are in part about momentum. Keep the creative machinery clicking, keep it fed, keep your appointment with your creativity.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The "Urge to Finish" and the Fifteenth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: fifteenth entry in my 2010 Fake Journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

While today's post only brings you up to April 15 in my fake journal, earlier today I finished sketch 28. With only two days left of International Fake Journal Month 2010 I confess there is a mixture of feelings in my mind (I've written about the melancholy). Most prominent is a sort of sense of urgency to finish co-existing with a desire to not finish.

The urgency comes because I work so quickly in general. Also I tend to set fake journal parameters so that daily time commitment is low and therefore sustainable through the month of April.

Now on April 28, with only two days left there is an urge to "just finish." (It wouldn't take that long after all.)

Resisting that urge and keeping "honest" in the execution of the fake journal within the context of fake journaling, is one way in which I school myself in pacing and try to improve that characteristic in myself as I age. I feel as if I'm holding my breath, but I know, from past experience waiting, that there are new revelations and new insights if I wait and let the process unfold.

So I take a breath and put the pencil away, until tomorrow. And take up my real journal…

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another Fake Journal Keeper Joins the Ranks, and the Fourteeth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the fourteenth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I have a link that I'm adding to the participant list: Gina Lento.

Go and check out her fake journal. She started on April 19 and has been experimenting with different media in a new brand of commercially bound journal—that's just the type of thing that lends itself to useful fake journaling. Keep going Gina.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Keep Working and Don't Care—and the Thirteenth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the thirteenth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Only four more days of International Fake Journal Month 2010. Hang in there. Keep working.

If people don't understand what you are doing or if they don't like what you are doing in your fake journal, embrace the fact that you don't care!

And if you do care—well spend some time in the next four days thinking about the freedom of not caring, the freedom to create from your mind and heart to please yourself and no one else.

Look at your fake journal this way—a journal full of that which you were pleased to make. Just 'cause!

You can feel that way about your regular journal too. When you do, a whole new world of fun opens up for you. It's just play. It's not work. And you are engaging yourself, your creative mind. Take some of that freedom back with you to your regular journal—a gift from your fake journal author.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What To Do on May First, and the Twelfth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the twelfth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image for an enlargement.

So far this is the only person the author of my fake journal has sketched more than once. I don't know if this will still be true five days from now.

Plan a journal outing on May 1—even it if is just a 10-minute coffee break in a lounge where you work. Sketch something. Write something true about your life. Decide how you are going to use your "fake journaling" time when April is over.

Little by little you have carved out a bit of time for your fake journal. This is time that you wanted for your creative project. May 1 is the time to remind yourself that you do have time in your life for your creative pursuits, no matter how busy you get. May 1 is the time to turn your fake journaling habit into a useful habit for your regular journaling. You've exercised your journaling muscles with cross training!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Eleventh Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: my eleventh entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view and enlargement.

This is one of my favorite sketches from this year's project. For me the eleventh day of April was a bit of a turn around. Definitely a day in which I had more clarity about the author of the journal (which I'll write about at the end of April).

For now, there are 6 more drawings, 6 more pages to do (I've finished today's entry). I'm already getting a little bit of a sense of, don't know what, melancholy is too strong a word, but a sense that I will miss the project when it's over. Things become habit when we do them daily over time. That habit happens quickly. It's great that journaling is such a helpful and healthy habit!

Have fun on these remaining days. Savor the moments.

Oh, and yes that's dried glue on the red paper at the spine. Isn't it wonderful! Fussy Roz doesn't have to worry about it at all because it's not her journal! Pure enjoyment.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Taking Stock and the Tenth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the tenth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

No tip for today, just a companionable reminder to keep chugging along whether it is going smoothly or whether it feels a struggle—we've only got a week left!

OK, so there is a tip, with one week left in International Fake Journal Month 2010 take a moment today to page through your fake journal and ask yourself what "more" would you like to see happen in it.

"More" can be anything from more color to more intensity of emotion. "More" can be visual or verbal. "More" is not about taking more time out of your day and devoting it to the project. "More" is not about spending more money on art supplies at this point.

"More" might be as simple as making a date with your fake journal every day at the same time and finding a way (a pre-journal cup of coffee, a nutritious snack, 15-minutes of yoga, a short walk…) to get completely away from your life before you get into the fake journal so that you are present (as your fake journal author of course). Remember many of the techniques and approaches you use during International Fake Journal Month can be useful when you are keeping your regular journal. This is the time to try out different approaches.

Also this review is not a time to let your internal critic speak up. What I am suggesting is a review of your project as it stands so far, with an eye to pushing the envelop just a little "more" in some direction. Yes this will mean that you skate closer to risk and odd or ugly pages, but it also means that you will really let your fake journal author have control of his/her book.

Give it a push for this final week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Facial Vocabularly and the Ninth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the ninth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I've been thinking a lot about faces this month, because of the way the fake journal is structured. I found a slim but delightful book from Dover that I recommend to people working with faces—"Sargent Portrait Drawings: 42 Works by John Singer Sargent."

You'll also find books with drawings by other masters like Holbein and Leonardo. The great thing is that many are $6.95 (the price of the Sargent book).

The drawings in this book are reproduced in a large enough size so that you can see subtle nuances of line and shade. (One drawing on each 8 x 11 inch page.) Some of the drawings are loosely started and left unfinished, others are completed and fully realized (though I would argue that even Sargent's unfinished work has a sense of being fully realized).

Seeing how a great master like Sargent makes pencil and charcoal do his bidding to capture a likeness can inform your own efforts. You can see how he developed a vocabulary of marks and approaches that capture the 3-D in the 2-D surface. It is helpful to see how someone so skilled understands the structure of the face and the play of light and shadow on that structure. And it is always instructive to see how a great mind and hand "cheats" and suggests detail with a sure touch, when there is no detail upon close observation.

Sargent, Holbein, Leonardo—and all the great masters—can help you find a facial vocabulary of your own. I recommend you check out some of these books.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

International Fake Journal Month Tip of the Day: Enjoy the Chaos

Above: my 2010 fake journal on April 15, halfway through the process. More about what is happening to it in the post below. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

As you can see from the above photo, by April 15 my fake journal was curling up at an amazing angle. Additionally things were getting tight at the spine of this simple, sewn pamphlet (an APICA commercially made soft-covered notebook which I have written about before).

For many journal keepers the journal's final aspect—whether it looks worn or brand new—is important. Fake journaling can help you bust out of your prejudices as to whether or not there is a "right way" for something to happen, or whether there is a right way for something to end up looking.

Often people come to visual journaling with the idea that their filled journal should be (must be) a publishable piece of artwork—rather than whatever it turned out to be.

Imposing such restrictions on yourself can be limiting, even crippling to your journal practice. You allow your internal critic free-reign and constant access to weigh in on any of your activities—he gets to micro-manage your choices. You might put off working in your journal because you don't feel well or you don't think you have enough time to do something that is "worthy." You might actually find yourself thinking about "worthy" all the time—I've seen this happen. (Just the other day a friend told me she finally felt worthy to work in a journal I'd given her made with wonderful paper. I wanted to scream. Happily she feels worthy now, but the book has needed to be worked in all this time—books need to be filled.)

Sure there are artists creating journals that delight the eye and intellect so much that every page should be published. But if you look at the work of those artists you'll see that it is wonderful because they aren't hampered by preconceived notions of what they are "going for" but instead are simply working.

I would love to paint like Gérôme but life intervened and I made other choices and I didn't work as hard as he did, and frankly don't have the natural talent. I can be a realist about it. And because I can be a realist about that I can also be busy in my journal working from the point where I am at this point in my life.

This is something to keep in mind when you look at the journals of artists you admire—they are at a different point than you are, in skill, in talent, in interest, in work ethic, in circumstances you can't even begin to imagine. All of this plays into how their journals look at any given time.

The journals that I really admire are filled with pages of risk taking—risks that pay off because the artists are skilled, but risk taking all the same—which could result in failure. Embracing risk is part of making art, whether you are doing something to publish or not.

So my tip today, as we hit the final stretch in 2010's celebration of International Fake Journal Month is: embrace all the chaos and risk that comes your way while creating your fake journal.

For me this year, the scope of the journal was different from any journal I've done for myself. I have only been using pencil (something I haven't done since college) and my journal author has been using paper inserts in a way that I wouldn't do in a regular journal without making compensations (i.e., cutting out other pages to make space for the insertions).

The result is a physical object which is warping in a way I had not expected (though if I'd thought about it at all before hand I should have realized this would happen) and has caused me to further let go of my "fussy" procedures as to cutting and gluing. The second half of the book is really about "making it work" rather than getting it to work in the most optimal way. (And the great thing about it being a fake journal is that the author has to make it work, not me, and she doesn't seem to mind at all, so that's good role modeling for me!)

By embracing the "chaos" of this approach in this particular journal I'm able to whittle away at my own particular "optimal way" mentality. It doesn't mean I will stop being someone interested in experimenting and finding optimal ways to do things in my journal, and with the art materials I elect to use. What it does mean, however, is that I can free myself from the need to find the optimal way all the time. I can step away from "optimal way" when that means getting onto a more useful path to creation. That's always a good thing.

For me, over the years, that has been one of the most striking benefits of fake journaling. Last year's use of an Alvin Field Book, dip pen, and watercolor helped push me back into non-archival materials like school notebooks (something I used throughout my childhood). It has freed me even more from "archival" materials. It's great to use archival materials; it's great to work in journals that I have bound myself with archival materials; but fake journaling reminds me that it is simply just great to be journaling, with whatever is at hand.

For someone of opposite tendencies fake journaling might be a time to trot out the specially made journal with archival pages…

As you move through the final days of this year's celebration I hope that you find a way to embrace the oddities, the risks, the less-than-you-had-hoped-for results that may have happened. Own them as part of the journey you're on to express your vision. Use the accidents and mishaps to encourage you to more experimentation, rather than allow them to shut down your creative experimentation.

When we were young and we played, we don't get graded on the quality of our play (unless you played with a really bossy child or an absurdly intrusive adult); your passing or excelling "grade" in play was the feeling you got—the satisfaction you had—in knowing that you were really engaged. That's what matters. Remember that, and bring it forward into your journal practice.

Let your journal (fake or real) be a record of your play and experimentation. Enjoy the satisfaction of being fully engaged.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Eighth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: The eighth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Yesterday I posted an additional list of new links to people participating in International Fake Journal Month 2010—people who are posting their work on their own blogs.
Well, after that I put those links and the previous links all together in a links list at the side of this blog—2010 Participants. You can find them there and check on them throughout the month. (And into May as many of us might be behind in posting.)

I hope you will stop by the blogs where people are working on their 2010 IFJM Journal and give them encouragement.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More International Fake Journal Month Participants and the Seventh Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the seventh entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Here is an update on participants in this year's fake journal celebration. I have provided the name of the artist and then a short note about the fake journal. If you click on the name a link will take you there.

Gina Mitsdarfer (Gina shows us Santa Fe interior designer, Syndey Greene's journal.)

Margaret Sloan (Her journal keeper is off on a trip to an unusual land—Divergencia—where there are snail trains and cloud cows.)

Jana Bouc (Jana shares a book of spells and unspells—useful for all sorts of things! This is Jana's second year participating in IFJM.)

Ky Sanders (A young boy, Danny, begins a life changing journey.)

I'm going to make a sidebar feature with links to participant's postings on their own blogs. You can also click on "2010 participants" under categories and get to the related posts which list them.

Again, I'd like to encourage you all to jump in and start a fake journal if you haven't already done so. And of course, visit the blogs of those people who are posting their efforts!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sixth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the sixth entry in my 2010 Fake Journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I'm getting more links ready for a post tomorrow. If you are posting your fake journal on your blog and I haven't already put you in the links update then be sure to let me know so I can include you.

In the meantime, keep enjoying the experience of fake journaling. I will have some more things to say in the next couple of days.
And don't forget to check in on the other fake journal keepers—links are found in my April 9 post.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fifth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the fifth entry in my 2010 International Fake Journal Month Journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Today is not only Tax Day, but it is the midway point in International Fake Journal Month.

If you have been working right along with the rest of us then you are half way through the month! Congratulations and keep working.

If you are still sitting on the fence, come on, join in. You've got two weeks to have some great fun—stretching, playing, and exploring!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fourth Entry in My 2010 Fake Journal

Left: the fourth entry of this year's fake journal. I'm still using only the Stabilo All (black; used dry) and cutting away the page to expose Canson Mi Tientes. I'm working in the APICA soft-covered notebook. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Since I don't use pencil in my visual journals much (I don't like all the smearing and smudging) I'm having a bit of a vacation from myself and my usual prejudices against smudges.

The insertion of a backing sheet of Canson Mi Tientes on each page (you can see the previous page's backing sheet at the left of the image) has caused this slim writing notebook to start to curl (with the grain of course) in an interesting fashion. It causes the pages to rub against the previous page—and since this isn't my journal I'm not in the least concerned.

Yep, quite a vacation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

International Fake Journal Month Tip of the Day: Don't Worry about "Bad Pages"

Left: Page 3 in my 2010 fake journal.

Sometimes our pages don't turn out the way we expect them to—or hope. Fake journaling helps us get over the push to have "perfect pages." I addressed an aspect of this in yesterday's post—the need to keep going.

But beyond the push of keeping yourself going when a page doesn't turn out the way that you would have liked or hoped, you also need to let go of the idea of having perfect pages, even in a "special" journal such as the fake journal.

On my third day of sketching in this year's fake journal none of my angles were working out. But because I'm not concerned with the need to make perfect pages I can use this experience to delve deeper into the mind of my character, freeing me even more from the need to be accountable to any internal critic.

So as this drawing started to depart from my initial hopes and direction (the shading was too dark and clumsy in some areas, the angles and proportions not keenly observed) I started asking my character what her expectations and thoughts about this were.

And that's when I really met and connected with the author of this year's fake journal. So I recommend you turn any moments of disappointment into moments of discovery. These are opportunities to understand your character's goals and expectations—which may be totally opposite from your own.

Part of the fun of International Fake Journal Month is the opportunity to try out someone else's approach. This means you have to step back out of the way so that can actually happen.

When you learn to step out of the way in this fashion, without bringing judgment to the situation, you are also building your mental muscles for dealing with your own internal critic.

Accept what happens on each page—but also take a moment to learn from it. Let the "aha moment" of discovering more about your character happen.

If you are really stuck in the concept of "I must have perfect pages," then read my post "Journaling Superstitions #4: Each Page Must Be Perfect," on my regular blog Roz Wound Up.

Keep working.

Monday, April 12, 2010

International Fake Journal Month Tip of the Day: Keep Working and Don't Second-Guess Yourself

Left: the April 2 entry in my 2010 fake journal.

We're almost halfway through International Fake Journal Month 2010. My fake journal is bulging nicely. (I'll take a video of it this year too so you can see how deformed the notebook gets.) I've been able to keep up with my page-a-day-strategy, so far. Sometimes, however, it isn't easy to keep up the pace. Life interrupts us and eats up the time we've set aside for any art activity, not just fake journaling.

Something else can stop us too—indecision or a sense of vagueness. Or perhaps I should call it the "second-guessing yourself."

Maybe the story line you'd imagined (if you were hoping to have a narrative thread running through your fake journal) isn't coming together the way you thought it would. Maybe the images don't have the look that you thought they would? Maybe the ideas seem weaker than they did when you were planning for April?

If any of that is true, or other ways of second-guessing have popped up, take a moment to do a quick self-assessment. Is your internal critic calling for attention? That's the first order of business—get him to shut up by any means possible. "Laterizing" him is always a good method. "Hey, I'll deal with your comments later…" Do that enough and he'll get the message. You'll be left alone. It's worth the practice you get doing this when working on your fake journal.

If it isn't the internal critic that is stalling you look for other possible road blocks. Maybe you simply need a nap. (I can't take naps, but I know lots of people who do and naps always work for them, so I'm suggesting you try it.) Or maybe you need to avoid sugar to keep your energy levels up and even (I know I have to do this).

Whatever it is, take a moment to look into what is going on, take a couple deep breaths, and then KEEP WORKING. That's the absolute best cure for stalling and second guessing. Put yourself back in your character's mindset and get back to work, their work. Don't worry about creating a great piece of art on your page or page spread, just let your character get something about his day down that is honest. (Well, within the confines of "fake" of course.)

Keep working.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Who's Celebrating International Fake Journal Month 2010?

Left: The first page of my 2010 International Fake Journal Month Journal. APICA notebook, with Stabilo All pencil; paper cut away to expose dark green Canson Mi Tientes on the right side of the page. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

A week into International Fake Journal Month and my character has been working steadily along with a page a day but I'm still a little foggy on some of the details. This is great for me because it makes me sit with the discomfort of that. More important to me, however, is the struggle I'm having letting my character keep such a text-free zone of a journal.

I will write more on this during the month. Today, however, I want to provide a list of links that will take you to the work of other fake journal keepers. I hope that you take a moment this weekend to check out these links and see the variety of approaches that people are attempting this month. They are stretching themselves both as to content and materials. I have been excited to see what they are producing and I know you will enjoy seeing it as well. I hope you take the time to go to their sites and encourage them in their journey.

Also, remember, it is not too late to join in. You can start today, as if your character simply finished his previous journal and picked up a new clean volume—because after all, how often do we get to start a new journal on the first day of the month? (And if you always do, well, all the more reason to let your character start one on an alternate day.)

Journal Keepers Participating in International Fake Journal Month 2010:
The link to each name gets you to their first post. Check later posts on their blog as well, for additional IFJM posts. (These links are listed in the order in which they were received.)

Melinda Bilecki (The journal of Sam Phaling, Executive Protection Specialist, begins.)

Julie Williamson (A mysterious journal by someone small.)

Liz Steel (A teddy bear takes the lead.)

Holly Herrick (The adventures of Mimi a perfectionist obsessed with watercolor paints—the three primaries only.)

Suzanne Queen (Remains herself, but different.)

Anne Bray (Has a blog for her fake journal: Spy Girl. Also Ann participated last year as well.)

Carol (A sort of historical postal fake Journal—Marco Polo's Fourth wife sends postcards.)

Evi (The diary of Raven R. Van Heavensong—in the environs of Harry Potter)

Kat Haberlack (Fizzgig Nushmut's observations and media experiments.)

Jill Jones (A travel journal begins.)

EVA tdb (Her fake journal author is off on an excursion in the Pacific.)

Timaree Cheney (Is a fish out of water)

Elizabeth Nevshemal (Her fake journal begins with an illuminated letter and entries surrounding the Christian calendar.)

Brandy Harrington (Her character is going to be playing with ink and watercolors.)

Note: if you don't find your posts linked here please review link submission guidelines. Some how filters in my mail program have weeded you out. I'd love to include you in future lists, and the contest drawing, if you would submit following guidelines.

If you aren't interested in posting your fake journal pages in public (either on this blog or on your own, with a link set up here) I would still love to hear from you about how your experience plays out for the month—so keep me posted. Fake journals can be private, and that's totally legitimate. Keep going.

Have a great weekend browsing these fake journals.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

In medias res…A Little First-Day Tip

Today is the first day of International Fake Journal Month 2010. Many of you may already have completed your journal page for today. I know I have. And I look forward to checking out the links to people's blogs where they have already posted their page from today. (I will be putting up a list of links this weekend for you all to check out.)

If you haven't already started your fake journal and feel a little nervous about how to begin then keep the Latin phrase in medias res in mind to guide you. It means, "in the middle, in the midst of affairs." It's the best way to start your fake journal.

Why? Because it mimics the natural way to keep a journal and it translates to the fake the best. Don't explain. Don't write extensive backstory. Don't write the obvious.

Here's why: your character already knows who his Aunt Jo is. If you are going to write extensive explanatory information about Aunt Jo there needs to be a reason your character would do that. He maybe has never met Aunt Jo? Or he has some odd memory problem? Perhaps. But that's getting pretty complicated.

Resist the urge to get complicated—especially if this is your first fake journal. These past weeks when I've been writing about just jumping in, well I actually meant that literally.

Your character is writing NOW, journaling NOW. So what goes on the page needs to be in first person and about the now. Of course facts about the character's past are going to flow up onto the pages, just as those facts make an appearance in our own journals—but dole them out. You'll have way more fun in April if you let these details pop up throughout your journal instead of burdening yourself with writing copious notes every day—and trying to remember all that.

Speaking of remembering:
If you're like me and have 20,000 other things going on in your life (or maybe you have 50,000 things going on in your life, then you really need to pay attention to this bit) you might want to keep a little pad of paper on hand to jot things down like the names of people who crop up in the fake journal during April.

If your character writes or sketches about Milly on page one, you might want to write down "Milly 1" on your pad. And then note: son's 1st grade teacher (or whatever). Leave a little space and if Milly comes up again you can add to the list. That way you can be consistent throughout the month without having to reread everything and find some odd little reference.

Of course you can wing it without a little reminder pad. Maybe your character has BSE and he's always calling the same person by different names—and that's part of your character's charm. But I recommend you have a reminder pad. It makes participation faster and less stressful. You do have your real journal to attend to don't you?

And yes, the first time your character writes about Milly in his life he would give some background information—my point is that your character wouldn't give background information on EVERYTHING, not all at once. You can parcel it out.

In 2009 to start my fake journal the first page coincides with my character's arrival at a new place, after a tiring trip on which her supplies were lost. This immediately sets up an excuse or reason for her to be working in the book she's working in, with the materials she ends up using. We don't know anything else about her.

She is also accustomed to keeping a journal and so she only gives the briefest of mentions of someone who will later become very important to her. And she writes down random thoughts in her journal, based on what she is drawing and seeing in front of her: wild turkeys.

The revealing of information in a natural flow is one of the ways you can have some fun with your fake journal—and discover things about the author you might not have realized at the start.

You can find interesting ways to show any readers what your character's job, preoccupations, likes, dislikes, etc. are in oblique ways. Again, it increases your fun factor. And if the fun factor is high the likelihood that you'll keep working in your fake journal through April increases!

Of course you don't have to have a narrative strain in your fake journal. I'll say more about that in the coming days. But if your journal keeper is wired that way, and he is keeping a journal with text, then you might want to consider these points.

And then, remember, JUMP RIGHT IN.