My friend Roz Stendahl has been an avid journal keeper since, well, I think since birth. I suspect she was sketching and keeping notes in her crib, documenting this strange world around her. At some point she thought it would be fun to keep more than one journal, and Roz being Roz, she created International Fake Journal Month and invited her friends and students and journal keepers all over the world to jump in and join her. IFJM now happens every April, and there’s still time to join in the fun for 2014 (you don’t have to start at the beginning of the month if that’s too soon; you can jump in whenever you can).
Here’s the button Roz created for last year’s IFJM:
Here’s a great flip-through of Roz’s Fake Journal from last year:
And here’s Roz to tell you more, answering some questions I asked her:
What Is IFJM?
Basically it’s a free pass to put anything in a journal that you might not otherwise put in your journal. Take on a new persona, alter ego, or be the same person you are now, except in an alternate universe. The only catch is that you must date your entries in present time, as you complete them, i.e., April 1, 2009, 8 p.m., April 3, 2009, 4 a.m., and so on. Oh, and it has to be a self-contained journal, not your regular journal (that’s two catches).
So you can 1. be yourself but the journal will contain fake happenings and events; 2. be yourself in another universe; or 3. be someone else. It’s what you want to do. Once you settle on an author that same persona creates all the entries.
It’s not difficult to participate in IFJM. All you need is a journal and a pencil or pen, and a desire to devote at least 15 minutes a day to the project. (It’s part of my cunning journal habit building plan, which is why I encourage my students to participate.)
I have tips on the blog to help people navigate the concept. I want it to be as simple as possible so that many people will give it a try.
I have encouraged my journaling students to participate because I’ve found that in every journaling class I teach there are always several students immobilized by their internal critic. I was looking for ways to help them get over this and thought, well, if they kept a fake journal then their critic couldn’t take them to task about the journal because “they” weren’t writing it. It’s a bit of mental jujitsu I thought would be useful to turn the power of their internal critics back against those critics.
I founded International Fake Journal Month in 2001. It went sort of like this:
In 2000 I kept two journals. My regular journal and the journal I was keeping as part of the Minnesota Journal Project 2000. It made me think a lot about journals in general and my journals in particular. (Created a little bit of a crisis actually, keeping two journals.) That year was also odd because I went from being the only person in the room with a journal to being one of many dozen (depending on the event) drawing away in a journal. (There were 46 participants in the journal project, but they were rarely together all at one time.)
I had kept fake journals for brief periods of time since I was 11. An English teacher had assigned “1066 and All That,” by W.C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman. It’s a parody and full of jumbled historical facts. I started writing such parodies to entertain myself as a child because I was one of those kids who read all the way through Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization.” As a teenager I decided it would be more interesting if I kept journals that way once in a while. I thought of them as explorations of a particular narrative form—the diary.
So that continued for years while every April, which is tax month in the U.S., would be fraught with tension for me because my spouse procrastinates over finishing the taxes by the 15th. It has long been clear to me that I am my most creative in April as I try to my focus on my own projects. It became obvious to me in 2000, while on a road trip with Linda, that I could kill many creative birds with one stone if I kept a fake journal throughout April.
I then started telling my journaling students about the project, and often showing them some of the resultant fake journals. (Many are not for public consumption, like the journals kept by a hitchhiker and his passenger—made as altered books in copies of “Plato’s Dialogues” and very much a book club gone horribly wrong.)
I think the fake journals I’ve made since 2005 have also been a response to the public consumption of my “private” journals by students and website readers. I wanted something private again.
Some students took up the task and only informed me afterwards. It was a small movement. After I started my blog, Roz Wound Up in the fall of 2008, and that went so well, I decided it was time to take International Fake Journal Month to a larger group. That’s when I started the dedicated blog Official International Fake Journal Blog.
The overall motto of IFJM is “Life’s so short, why live only one?” But each year I create a new logo and a new motto for the year. This year’s motto is “No Explanations.” You can read about that here.
And you can also learn about special instructions for 2014 that people may or may not take into consideration. I’m really just trying to help people have the simplest as well as best experience possible by helping them to think clearly in terms that will produce the best results.
On Friday we’ll have more, including a couple pages from some of Roz’s fake journals from previous years.
For more journaling fun, check out Journal Fodder 365 by the Journal Fodder Junkies.
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