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?"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Case for Simplicity

By today, if you're going to participate in International Fake Journal Month 2015 you've probably already selected the journal you're going to use, picked the media you'll work with, and set some boundaries and limits for your character. If you haven't done all those things yet, you probably have been juggling several options and are waiting until April 1 to just dive in with one. That's fine too.

If you're new to the process of keeping a fake journal you might want to take a moment to read my post "Time to Start Thinking about Your 2015 Fake Journal" because it covers a bit of my process on how I move from the choices of selection and allow them to inform my character choice.

Something very important to consider is "Who's My Character? Why Does My Character Journal?"
In that post I outline a couple different approaches for discovering who your character is.

That post also includes links to posts containing tips on how to get under your character's skin and what to do on the first day.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to really maintain the journaling aspect of the project. In your joyous rush to start working or writing, remember to check yourself and ask, would my character really write this? really talk about these people he sees all the time this way? really mention these basic facts about herself? Who does those types of things when journaling? No one, we always write from complete knowledge and without a need to spell everything out.

Don't be stymied by that, but use it as a nudge to get even more creative. If it is important to you to get details into the journal discover natural ways that your character would get them in. For instance one year it was important for me to get a map of the house in a journal, it actually related to surveillance the character was under, but she was using that map for another purpose as well and  I could justify getting it in there because of that. Otherwise there would have been no need to have it there.

When in doubt leave things out. Remember that we aren't writing fiction, though some of the approaches used might be similar to how some fiction writers work. We're writing in the first person and we don't want our characters looking like morons having to explain everything to themselves.

If a story line emerges as you work you can always plant items as they come up, that will seem unimportant to anyone looking at the journal, but become important later.

A simpler approach, and I really encourage people to go for simple for the sake of completing the project, is to let go of the idea of story and simply document that character's life.

If you elect to do that the mental gymnastics of what you can or can't include evaporate because all you have to do is deal with the 15 minutes of the character's life that you are experiencing when you are working in the journal each day as that character.

This is also the most useful approach for discovering something about process and your own journaling habit, because it is focused totally on journaling. You might have a character for instance who works visually in a totally different medium from one you work in, so every day your journal time is to experience that medium and what that character thinks of that medium or how he uses it.

You will end the month with 30 pages of work in a mode that is different from what you would have done in those circumstances and you will have had the opportunity to try that other approach on.

And that approach is SIMPLE. You can keep your character's backstory in a separate notebook if you feel the need to write about it, but in the journal you just have the daily expression of that person's creative effort.

If you want to read a more involved discussion of whether "To Prep or Not to Prep" please check out this link.

The Main Reason to Keep Things Simple

There is one inescapable reason to keep your IFJM plans simple—Life.

Your regular life is going to happen whether or not you are expecting it to. A family member might become ill, you  might need to change jobs, your child joins the cast of a play and you have to drive to rehearsals, your dog needs surgery and care, the best freelance job in the history of the world flops on your desk with the deadline of April 18…So it goes.

How much time can you afford to spend each day in April on this project? Remember this project is about daily entries done at the actual time they were thought of. You are not sitting up late on Saturday night writing 6 entries for missed days. (Remember that's Faux journaling.)

Assess your life's obligations and schedule. Where will you put your journaling time into your day?

How much time can you afford to spend on this project? I suggest that you try to keep your time to 15 to 20 minutes each day. Past participants have found that lends itself to successful completion. (Anyone spending longer amounts of time than that has usually been through the project before and already has a sense for how to fit the journaling into his life.)

If you sketch slowly and paint even more slowly, doing a finished illustration every day is wishful thinking. You'll become bogged down and stressed by the second day of the project. Then you'll want to quit by the end of the week.

My goal in encouraging you to participate is that you COMPLETE your project. And that in completing your project you learn something about the journaling process you can bring back into your regular journaling habit.

I don't want to see anyone go out and exhaust himself and feel crumpled down in failure.

So think about TIME MANAGEMENT.

What can you reasonably do in 15 to 20 minutes a day, and what type of person would be keeping that type of journal?

Setting clear and doable boundaries which allow both for stretching of yourself and your understanding as well as completion of the project are key to having a great IFJM. They also happen to be key to any creative endeavor.

The best thing about IFJM is the opportunity to throwaway the pride or ego which attaches to our work, and view work through the eyes of another who doesn't have the same constraints or bounty that we have. In doing this something magical often happens on a personal level—and that's the great goal.

Finally, if you are using IFJM as a way to work on the aspect of daily habit (and many folks do this) it's important that your project is simple enough that you can complete a segment of it on a daily basis.

There is nothing so satisfying as 30 pages (or spreads if you work that way) of entries in the character's "voice" or "style" at the end of the month. Nothing. It has a completed weight and significance that make the effort fun and worthwhile; and those pages show you ways you can plan to use your energy intensely focused on other projects.

Take a few moments today and tomorrow to read some of the suggested links in this post and think about "simplicity" and how that relates to your project.

Jot down what your goals are and the time you will have to get your goals accomplished each day. Do they contradict each other? Now's the time to make some adjustments so you can hit the road running on April 1. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

To Post or Not to Post, and Where? And Other Pitfalls to Avoid in International Fake Journal Month

New participants frequently struggle with the issue of whether to post their fake journal publicly or to keep a private fake journal.

I encourage all first time participants to consider how they can best serve their creative process.

If the issues they want to confront in their fake journal are intensely private, or simply intense, I think it is best for them to not post their journal entries in their inaugural year. Instead I suggest they keep a private document through the month and after April decide what if any of it will be publicly displayed. (Perhaps only a portion with a wrap-up which they could supply to me to be posted here. See “Wrap-ups” in the category list.)

In this way new participants avoid dealing with a barrage of questions that range from the “I’m confused, what are you doing this month?” to the “You know, you really SHOULD have done X differently, and Y doesn’t make sense in the construction you’ve created.” From the well-meaning to the snide, comments can derail the creator if he isn’t firmly fixed on a goal or a course of action.

If this is your first time going through the process I recommend that you consider this approach. The most important thing about your participation in this project is that you work with and protect your creative process.

Past participants can still write to me via email immediately and provide me with a link for the participants’ list.

The only thing that is changing for new participants is that you can write to me as soon as you have 6 entries completed (which for most people will mean they will write to me the morning of April 7). The email should come to me at rozjournalrat at gmail dot com and the subject line must read "Participants List."

Please be patient if you do not see your name go up on the blog roll immediately. IFJM is something that I do for fun. Work and eldercare often keep me away from the computer for long stretches and my first duty when returning to the computer is work. If you don’t see your name on the participants’ list in 4 days, then I recommend that you write to me again checking that you have used the right subject line. (It’s how I locate appropriate messages in the stream of mail we all get these days.) I also tend to do things in “blocks.” So if I get one notice from someone but am pressed for time I will often wait until I have 3 or 4 people to add to the list at the same time—time management rules here.

Another question I get about posting publicly is whether or not you need a dedicated blog for IFJM.

The simple answer is no.

But of course it’s more complex than that.

Most participants create a dedicated blog because they like to separate their IJFM entries from their regular work, their regular blog posts, the eyes of their clients or friends and family who wouldn’t understand the IFJM entries, or the project in general.

Our friends and family certainly don’t need to know everything we do. And our clients probably shouldn’t.

Separating your IFJM work onto a dedicated IFJM blog also prevents the possibility of confusing people you know and eliminates the “helpful” comments received from people who aren’t involved in IFJM.

Participants setting up a dedicated IFJM blog insulate themselves from well-meaning “negative” comments or sarcastic comments from passive aggressive types such as “Gee I see you have a lot of time on your hands.” (To which of course the only possible reply is, “Yes I manage m y time very well, thank you. Sorry you don’t.”)

The reasons to create a dedicated IFJM blog are countless and individual. I recommend you stop and consider your unique situation.

If you go ahead with incorporating your IFJM entries into your regular blog post stream be sure to devise a way to link them through tagging and grouping available on your platform. In the link provided in the participants’ list you will only have that FIRST POST’S link. Once readers are on your blog they must immediately see how to navigate and discover your other IJFM post or they will become frustrated and leave.

That defeats the point of public posting—especially when you are frustrating the one definitely interested group of readers.

Another possible way to deal with confusion when posting on a regular blog is to group all your week’s IFJM output into one weekly post. Perhaps each Friday you compile a post giving all your previous week’s entries, or every Sunday. Whatever works for you. This will enable readers to see more of your IFJM work quickly and easily, and the continuity of your IFJM posts and journal will not be constantly interrupted by other posts.

I’ve found in the past that people without dedicated blogs have more frustrating interaction with their regular blog readers about the project and that is not helpful but intrusive to the creative process.

Make it as easy as possible for those who want to find your IFJM entries to do so. Going through a lot of unrelated posts is something you think might be fun for them and maybe you would like feedback on your other work, but in reality the fake journal people are often only interested in your fake stuff during April (they can return another time) and will skip most of the other posts. They are busy and have to get back to their own fakery. (In the past several years several participants have asked that I make dedicated blogs mandatory and these are just some of the reasons they have expressed.)

Also, think hard about what your topic and parameters in your fake journal are going to be. Will it be something you can post in a general purpose blog or a general purpose art blog?

Blogger and Word Press are two entities that offer free blogs if you decide to go with a dedicated IFJM blog. You can then link your fake journal blog to your original blog with an opening and closing post.

In the past some participants have used Flickr to post their fake journal entries. Personally I find Flickr difficult to use, navigate around, and just get to where I want to go and have a sense of flow. Because of that I am always frustrated when trying to view entries posted there, and frankly give up at the first frustration.

I have feedback from others that I am not alone in this. If you post on Flickr because it is easiest for you to do so, that’s great. Keep  your posting process as simple as possible for YOU, so that you will be able to spend your time working on your project. But remember to make it as easy as possible for people who are trying to view your Flickr entries.

This year we have a new way to post entries. There is now a Facebook Group for International Fake Journal Month. 

Currently this is a public group and you can contact me at the group to get admitted. Past participants have suggested that this group become a private group once the month starts. This will enable new participants to post “publicly” to a public who knows what they are doing and can be encouraging. Whether you post there or not you are encouraged to join us there in IFJM-related conversations (though we probably will be all busy working on our journals?).

Go forward whichever way works best for you—because the focus should remain on the creation of the fake journal and NOTHING should get in the way of that—do what is easiest.

And speaking of making it easy—I have written numerous times in tips, tips on fake journaling, and book selection (to name just a couple categories) that you need to consider how easy it will be to scan or photography your  fake journal if you intend to post it (or digitally archive it). If you keep your journal size to a size that will fit open on your scanner so that you can scan a page spread in its entirety you’ll have one scan, not two which need joining in Photoshop. Believe me this time adds up and takes away from time you could be working in your journal.

(Take a moment to look through the category list for tips on media, paper, book selection as well as writing tips. There is also a blog search engine. This stuff is all there for you to look over. It's there to help you strategize some of these issues so that you can have a more effortless and creativity focused experience.)

Last year I deliberately went with an oversized page: 22 x 30 inches. I made this choice because that was what was necessary for the character. But I knew going into that year that I would not try to post entries daily. I knew I would only photograph a couple images as I went along. Most of the images would not be seen until the end of the month “show” where they were all up up on a wall. At that point I had a professional photographer shoot gigapans of the fake show. These images allow the viewer to zoom in on the details to a higher degree than even a quality scan allows.

EVERY CHOICE you make for your fake journal will impact the ease with which the project runs and finishes. The easier the housekeeping aspects of your project remain the less frustrating your month will be.

With that in mind take a moment to consider the media you have selected for use this month. Is it something that will be easily scanned or photographed? For example graphite works are notoriously difficult to photograph (believe me I always groan when given graphite work to use in my work projects).  With most scanners graphite work is a bit easier to handle, but even then there are some pitfalls requiring extra handling so that the impact of your work comes through. Consider such constraints as you move forward with your choices for International Fake Journal Month.

It is my goal in sharing this project and encouraging people to participate that the focus stays always on the creation of their work and the value this exercise can return to them at the end of the project.

Let’s have a great April! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

[considered] Truths: the 2015 slogan

What’s up with the yearly slogans for International Fake Journal Month you might ask? (People ask all the time and there have been several questions in the past week.)

Projects have to be fun for me and part of the way I make IFJM fun is to have a new slogan each year. In the past I would make them into buttons, now they are simply images, small “posters” to mark the year.

There is of course the main and on-going slogan for IFJM:

“Life’s so short, why live only one?”

That will always be there. It clearly states the point of the project.

But each year a new slogan is offered because of my love of commemorating events in this fashion. It helps me keep the years separate, “Oh, yeah, 2014 was the year of no explanations, how did that go for me?” That type of thing.

The slogans grow out of my own reflection on the process of fake journaling, an assessment of my current life, the selected image I want the slogan to work with, and the bubbling thoughts I have about the upcoming fake journal I’m going to be making.

It is not important or necessary that participants utilize the year’s slogan in any way, or even pay attention to it. Some participants do think about the slogan and find ways to apply it to their character. For instance in 2014 several people embraced “no explanations.” In this way slogans can help point and push participants to a deeper look at what they are trying to do, or give them focus if they get off track.

For others the slogans and yearly image remain merely decorative. And that’s fine.

For me, as I just wrote, the slogans grow out of my own creative process as I rev up for IFJM. In so many ways they set the psychological approach that I’ll take throughout the month. (I deliberately leave the slogans vague so that participants can interpret them freely and find meaning in them if they choose to do so.)

In February this year, just recovering from flu and bronchitis, I realized I’d better get busy thinking about my journal selection, character, media, etc. for this year’s celebration. What happened was I sat down and started thinking about which image I wanted to use for the “button” and then brainstormed slogans that held meanings for me. They just poured out onto a two-page spread in my journal. Some were too self-revelatory for a public project, others didn’t seem to go with the image, or when placed with the selected image created an implied tone I didn’t care for.

Once I made the slogan selection I completed the artwork you see on the top of the right-hand column (some past “buttons” can be seen at the very bottom of this column if you scroll all the way down). I used a painting made previously (that feels right to me for this type of project rather than creating a new image, this repurposing creates another level of distance and non-reality) and layered it with the text of the slogan, experimenting with various fonts and combinations. The style and bracketing are am important part of the interpretive content for me. “Truths” is obviously a loaded word when working with IJFM and all the attendant fakery, but I try in all my fake journals to keep close to some aspect of myself. In this way I am able to mine deeper and bring back useful insights to my regular journaling process.

“[considered]” for me is a little bit playful. So too is the image of the young boy which I made from a photo picked up at an estate sale. He is no relation to me, yet dear because of the time spent painting with him. That’s one level of “[considered]” for me.

Another level of “[considered]” is that I am explicitly asking participants to remember to focus on what is true in what they are creating. Even in the fake there is always, and must always be something that is absolutely true.  In a way it’s a comment on “Art” if you like, but more specifically for me (and I love to be specific) it is a comment on “Life.”

It is my hope that participants will enact their own level of analysis to consider either during or after, what truths they are finding in their work this month.

Once the words of the slogan and these thoughts were in my brain I couldn’t get them out. I posted the “button” to the blog and went back to my work, but the slogan stayed with me. You will see later how it directly impacts my 2015 fake journal, but that is a story for another day.

If you are participating this year remember only that the slogan is there as a place marker in the line of celebrations. If you want to delve into what it might mean for you, do so. Ask yourself how it might relate to what your character is up to and what his or her journey is about. If it doesn’t resonate with you, don’t waste time “trying to make it fit.”

Just keep it in your mind for a moment.

Many participants find that AFTER the month is over, something they thought they weren’t even paying attention to actually influenced their entire month. The creative mind is interesting that way. We put in seemingly random things and it spits out “[considered]” Truths.