Here’s more information from Roz about how you can join in the fun of IFJM.
I discourage people from being an animal keeping a journal because really doesn’t work— the animal has no way of creating a visual journal as we would understand it. Their minds work differently, and their hands don’t hold brushes and pens. I encourage people who want to do that sort of journal or those who want to create an historical journal that isn’t taking place in April of some year, to join one of the many fiction writing experiments other folks are hosting (writing a novel in November for instance). Their interests would be better served working under those parameters.
Personally I tend to make an effort to limit media or use media I don’t typically use, so that I’ll have experiments to write about. I also find that working in an atypical (for me) medium allows me to distance myself from my character.
The single aspect that can’t be removed from IFJM if it is to be successful is that the entries must happen each day in April. And for the time you’re writing and sketching you’re that character.
There is usually some sort of contest each year, but because of the nature of the project (personal fulfillment not competition) the contests tend to be “drawings” rather than “best of” sorts of things. Or quizzes. You know I love quizzes.
Finding out about IFJM
A lot of questions about IFJM are answered here
Some beginners get a little bit ambitious and think about doing an historical fake journal. I encourage them not to do this. To create a believable historical fake journal requires that you do a lot of research into the language, mores, habits, social structure, living conditions, etc. of the time in which you’re writing. People interested in learning more about these difficulties can read about them here.
Faux journals are also not encouraged—that’s for some other celebration—a faux journal is a journal that is written, like a work of fiction, perhaps all in a day, not moment to moment “as it happens.”
Definitions like these matter because without clear and simple parameters the value of participating in IFJM is diluted.
And I want everyone to have the most fun possible.
Each year, starting in February or March I begin to post “helpful” tips or suggestions about how to participate on the blog. There are posts on creating a character, selecting a journal, selecting a medium to work in, and so on.
Basically I encourage people to do the opposite of what they do in their normal journals. So if they make their own books like I do I recommend they buy a commercial journal. If they work with one medium a lot I suggest they leave it alone and work with another. (Again, what can the internal critic say if the drawings are awful, you didn’t do them!)
There is a category list on the blog in the right column and readers can find “tips” by clicking in there.
I haven’t ever had a character who was boring to me. Part of the fun of all this is to find out something about this person and how he or she thinks. So I keep hitting away at it throughout the month and something always pops up.
I think that’s because I’ve been doing it for so long (even when I was a teenager) and because I’ve very clear with setting the boundaries and parameters of the project so I can get it accomplished.
That’s perhaps easier for me to do than a lot of people not because I’ve made fake journals before but because have a history of completed creative projects. I have a sense of how much time to budget and how to avoid elements that will be energy drains. I think that the project can teach people those things or help them hone their creative skills, if they follow the tips I give.
For journaling techniques to help you get started, check out Artist’s Journal Workshop by Cathy Johnson.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS