It may seem early to write about IFJM 2014, but recently I have received several emails from people who want to get started now, or who want to be sure to participate in 2014 but aren't sure how to go about it. To help them, and any others in similar circumstances, I've created this post. It will sit at the top of the blog until I begin regular pre-celebration posts sometime around February or early March 2014.
Starting a Fake Journal Immediately
If you want to start keeping a fake journal now, by all means go ahead. A fake journal can be kept at any time of the year. I do suggest that you set a time limitation so that you can intensely focus on your project. A month is a good scheme. Two weeks would be a minimum to achieve a reasonable effect and result. This will also give you a trial run to see how this activity fits in your regular life with your current journaling habit, work and family obligations, etc.
Whenever you start I strongly recommend that you read the posts I've listed below in "Recommended Reading."
Participating in the 2014 IFJM Celebration
All you have to do is start keeping a fake journal in April 2014 (which is the next celebration). Then after you've got 4 or 5 pages posted you can send me a link at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll check out the link and add you to the list of the 2014 participants. The list will appear in the side column of the blog. (You can see past years' participants in lists there now.)
The link you send to me should be EITHER
1. A link to the dedicated fake journal blog you set up—some people like to keep their fake journal separate from other blogs/and posts.
2. A link to the FIRST blog post that is about your 2014 fake journal if you post about your fake journal on your regular blog. (You can get a direct link to that post by clicking on the title of that post in your browser. That post will then come up as a single entity and your browser address line will then be dedicate to that post, eg.,
goes to a specific post on my blog, the post about the video flip through. This would be the type of link you would need to send.
goes to the blog in general and shows the latest post. If you send a link like this I will NOT be able to use it, and won't be able to add you to the list. I get a ton of mail about IFJM every year. Emails which require me to go to a site and SEARCH for a first entry or any entry are ignored by me because of time crunch in my life.
3. If you use Flickr you can send me a DIRECT link to your first posting there. I DO NOT RECOMMEND this because in the past people have had trouble navigating Flickr links and finding the "string" of postings, but you can suit yourself.
I think it works best when someone creates a blog dedicated to fake journaling for their posts so that people going to the provided link can quickly read through the fake journaling posts, starting with the first entry and working their way through the progress. This causes the least amount of reader frustration and ensures that more people will stick with and follow your fake journal and not give up in frustration.
But if you post on a regular blog where most of your posts for April are fake-journal related and there is only one or two non-fake journal month blog posts people have to sift through, that can also work well. (Be sure to create a category on your regular blog that is for IFJM 2014 so readers can quickly find all related posts.)
Blogspot allows you to have multiple free blogs so it isn't difficult to set up a free blog there dedicated to fake journaling should you wish to do so. There are other free platforms as well.
Note: You can also participate in IFJM 2014 "privately." To do so you simply keep a fake journal without posting anywhere. For many people this is the best option because it allows them to feel the most free from "prying eyes," and allows them to fully inhabit the character who is creating the journal.
If you participate privately but would like to receive a button you'll need to send me jpgs of 5 page spreads from throughout the month. (You can blacken out or fuzz up any personal details you wish on the jpgs. The purpose of receiving these dated entries is to demonstrate your participation over the month, because only participants can receive buttons. I will not post your entries anywhere. You will not be added to the list of participants because your participation is private.) You will also need to include a check to cover the package and posting costs of sending the button out to you. (If you are local, you can also just show me your fake journal in person at some event we both attend, such as a sketch out. But let me know in advance so I can bring a button.)
I typically start posting messages on preparing for fake journal month and choosing a book etc. sometime at the end of February or in March. You can get a jump on things by reading old posts like these which cover vital information:
You can use the category cloud in the side column of this blog to find:
Tips On Fake Journaling (I inadvertently had two categories so you'll have to scan both):
"Creative Play" is a very important topic covered in the categories list.
"Thoughts on the process" is also a critically important part of fake journaling. Doing a self-debriefing at the end of April is an essential component. So if you read about debriefing in the process section of posts you'll have a heads up of how to creatively think about the process over time.
Some Words of Advice
I strongly recommend that you avoid creating a fake journal that is kept by/created by an animal or inanimate object.
I get a lot of mail about this. It really is a difficult thing to pull off. Think about this. If you are writing a first person (and journals are in first person) journal by an animal how does that animal write or draw in that journal?
The same is true of an inanimate object.
The purpose of IFJM is for the participants to inhabit another character/personality for a month. This allows the participant freedom to explore other art media and modes of expression not typical or usually employed. IFJM gives you a free pass to create in expressive ways you may deny yourself already.
If you set up your conditions so that the journal is by an animal or an inanimate object you are cutting yourself off from the most valuable aspects of the project.
If you are set on exploring life as an animal or inanimate object I recommend that you create a project to do that privately, or through other creative online projects like writing a novel in a month.
I want you to have the best experience possible in IFJM and that means I want you to stretch creatively in thought and through the media you use. Animals and inanimate objects do not lend themselves to first person visual journaling.
I also strongly recommend that you avoid creating a fake HISTORICAL journal. We all lead very busy lives. In order for real benefit to come from fake journaling you need to participate daily (or almost every day) in a concentrated period of time. This allows you to stay in character and focus on what your character is doing, how she lives, how he works creatively, etc. Fake Historical journals require a TON of research for facts, figures, dates, etc. You need to know the customs of the time about which you're writing. You need to know the style of dress, the objects that would be present, the vocabulary that they would use, the speech/writing patterns they would employ, the art materials that person would have access to.
Social status in historical fake journals will also limit your character's scope of expression. If you're writing about a maid's desire to paint in the 1860s she isn't going to have much access to paper, tools, or media; and she will have no spare time—they literally worked from dawn to a very late bedtime.
People get so caught up in doing research to get things right that they lose out on having time to actually execute their fake journal. Anachronisms invariably creep in, diluting the effect, and creating a jarring disconnect in the mind of the readers if you post publicly.
If you are intent on writing a fake historical journal I urge you to work on that project through other online programs, again, such as writing a novel in a month. You are essentially attempting to write an historical fiction in the first person, in diary/journal form, so it's a much better fit for one of those projects.
Focus instead on a project that is manageable and doable within the constraints of your own life's obligations. A project which focuses on someone living now. Set up what the character's life is like with a few notes to yourself on his or her occupation, habits, hobbies, skills. From that list let the character evolve and begin to speak with you. You can have them deal with issues that matter to you—these may be artistic as in learning to use a new medium, or personal, as in dealing with juggling time constraints between work and family. Look at these factors not from your perspective, but from the character's perspective given the other constraints of that character's life. In that way you'll begin to get at some issues you find relate to your own creative process—your fear of failure, your internal critic, your aversion to or adherence to risk, your pride, your timidity, etc. Your character can allow you to explore what it's like to be different for an entire month.
Promoting International Fake Journal Month
If you would like to promote International Fake Journal Month on YOUR CURRENT Blog you can do so by following the instructions listed in this post I've linked here.
Please note that there is no longer a contest/drawing for promotion. That was in 2011. However the post I've linked to will give you detailed instructions on how to add the official IFJM button onto your blog in its margin column. Please note that the image of the blue and white dog on a pink background with a caption "APRIL IS INTERNATIONAL FAKE JOURNAL MONTH" is found, as the instructions state, on my Roz Wound Up blog (in the margin), below the category list and pages list. That button is the only button image to be used for promoting IFJM on your blog.
The 2014 Button and Contests
I design a button each year for the celebration of IFJM. Each button contains the years' tag line. The design of the button is announced in February or March.
Buttons cost practically nothing for me to have made, but they do cost something to ship. As the participation has grown over the years I'm no longer able to absorb postage costs for sending out buttons. Each year I post a postage cost which is the cost of the package and postage (the button is free). Participants can send a check for that amount and receive a button. (Local participants can receive a button without mailing costs simply by meeting me at the MCBA Visual Journal Collective or any sketch outing that I happen to attend—if you let me know in advance to bring you a button.)
Some years, depending on my own time constraints, I run contests related to IFJM. These are typically drawings, and the rules for getting into the drawing vary. If there is to be a contest in 2014 details will be released in March 2014.
I hope this post helps you gear up for IFJM 2014. I look forward to hearing from you all in April 2014.