|Fantasy person from recent regular journal,|
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You can also go directly to the Official International Fake Journal Month Blog and read about the event as well as see details about this year's contests (it's a prize drawing for participants as usual).
But I wanted to write for a moment about one of my fantasy people—who is NOT in my fake journal this year—because it points to one of the benefits of participating in IFJM.
Each year in April I keep a fake journal for 30 days. I've been keeping fake journals for ages but I formalized it in 2001 and started telling students about it, and finally in 2009 created a blog just for the purpose of promoting it.
I think it's a useful activity to use to learn more about one's real journaling process. This is best accomplished by setting goals and parameters for your character. Personally I like to set a limit to the art materials and subject matter that I will use. In my regular journal life I'm all over the place experimenting—testing and evaluating. IFJM is a luxurious contrast because for 30 days I sink into a medium and an approach and allow myself time to explore a little more deeply. I could do this any time in my life, and often in my painting I'll do this type of exploration with a month long, daily painting series like my bird series which became a show 30 birds in 30 days. But each year April's IFJM makes sure I take time for my art in a way I might otherwise over look.
The lead up to IFJM is now always a little bit overly busy for me because instead of just thinking about what I want to do for my project I'm posting about the event and encouraging other folks. This year I didn't do a lot of pre-posting because I'd already (in past years) written tips about how to prep, not prep, choose a book, and so on. I was also swamped with work deadlines and family obligations.
But I was really, really enjoying working in my recent regular 8 x 8 inch (approx.) journal which I'd made with TH Saunders Waterford 90 lb. Hot Press High White watercolor paper. And because I was enjoying it I wanted to push it and see what more I could do with it in the few remaining pages. (Often my desire to explore a new paper in my test journal is overwhelmed by the reality of having to take notes at meetings and otherwise document my life.)
In the last pages of the TH Saunders Waterford journal I got out a pencil I have on hand for doing an occasional sudoku puzzle first thing in the morning when I look at the weather. (I don't normally sketch with a pencil.)
After scribbling down a face from memory, working small and blurry with the pencil, just letting my hand get a feel for the paper (this paper loves pencil), I started dabbing on and wiping off the paint to see how tough the paper was. (It's pretty tough.) It was fun. And the fun pushed me out of my rut of thinking about the paper I was going to use for IFJM and soon I was testing and rejecting the paper I thought I would use, and making all sorts of helpful decisions. I selected my next regular journal with paper that would be useful to continue this type of experimenting, and in the process I picked the paper for my fake journal. A plan came together.
Would I have come around to fiddling with this approach if I hadn't had IFJM "hanging" over my head? Probably, but also probably not for a month or more because of the other events going on at present and which regular journal I would have selected.
So whether or not you participate in IFJM I just want to urge you today to set up some deadlines and projects for yourself that will cause you to look at your journaling process and bust out (even for a short while) of habits and approaches that you've taken for granted.
You can always return to them, they won't go away, you won't "break" anything by taking an experimental plunge. But you'll come back to your regular journal practice with freshness and a new energy, and perhaps even some new approaches to how you visualize.