Friday, May 9, 2014

Closing the fake journal and what it did for me (International Fake Journal Month)

International Fake Journal Month came to an end when April came to an end, but I've been working in MJ's 32nd Book a bit longer than that, because I did not feel ready to close it yet. This was mostly due to the fact that for a part of April I had so little time to work in it with the birthday goings on and family visits and all. I thought I would be working in it for the whole of May, but I decided against it.

First let me say the book is nowhere near full. I did not think it would be, there are 66 spreads in the journal and I worked on about half of them. But it's okay, this was never meant to be a complete book anyway and it was also never meant to be a book with only finished spreads. This means that some spreads are only worked on a little and some are all done. So shockingly this is a book I will leave unfinished!

The fake journal has however served it's purpose as an experiment and as a project and I couldn't be more pleased about that, so in this post I want to write a little about my experience with it and what it means to me.

I had been wanting to participate in International Fake Journal Month for years, but never did. What seduced me this time to really jump in was that I was a bit bored with my own journaling process. This happens from time to time and I think it's normal for someone who has journaled through most of her life. I was wondering about my way of journaling and what it meant to me and mostly I wondered if there was a way to get to a more visual journal to replace my mostly written journal entries.

I have always written alot, but many years ago I read The Artist's Way and that introduced me to Morning Pages (if you don't know what they are I'm sure you can google it). This meant writing really became a daily habit with me and one that I liked to have mind you. Writing comes so easy to me that it almost became automatic and I no longer really questioned it's purpose.
Now however I started wondering what would happen if instead of writing most mornings I would do something visual instead like doodling or drawing or painting. You see, for so long I have wanted to have a journal that was more visual!

What I liked about this years IFJM is that the theme was 'No explanations' and that really spoke to me. I realized that I write often to explain everything (to whom?) and tell everything that goes on in my life. Sometimes this can be very freeing. Writing helps me think and work things out, that hasn't changed. But often I would just write what happened that day or where I went and who I talked to. I like my life, but do I really need to repeat it word for word on a page every day?

That's why for my IFJM character I chose someone who was not interested in reflection at all. MJ did not care to talk about everyday goings on, she just liked to draw and play with colour and patterns. You can read more about MJ in my introduction of her in this post.

MJ was a picture of what I would like to be more of. She's very close to me in character, but also has some traits that I would like to develop, especially when it comes to her approach to art. I like her no nonsense way of working at things without overthinking everything over and over again. I have a tendency to write and think about stuff instead of just doing them. It's not that I don't do them, it's just that I waste a lot of time that way. It's a form of postponing things.

The way MJ worked in her book was very organic. It was all about the process. I think her journal is almost more a process book than an actual journal. She doesn't date her entries. She just works at whatever she feels like. To her the book covers a period of time, not a series of specific dates. I liked that approach, but was afraid I couldn't do it, since being the anal person I am I even put the time on the clock in my journal entries! ;-)

Anyway, here are my conclusions after about six weeks of fake journaling:
  • I loved loved loved doing this! It was so incredibly freeing to step out of all my own constrictions and into the skin of someone who doesn't have them and actually thinks those constrictions are rather silly.
  • I really enjoyed doing a book on process instead of on specific subjects, clear cut spreads or a reflection of 'real life'. It was wonderful to not have to explain everything as I always feel I must, even if only to myself. I realised how ridiculous that was.
  • To my surprise I didn't miss writing all that much, except for a couple of times when I really wanted to think some things through. It made me realise that writing is a tool for me to get my thoughts straight and figure out where I stand, I don't have to use it to describe my daily life.
  • It was fun to think of a book as a whole instead of as a series of seperate spreads. I could work on this or that and if I was stuck on a page I could just move to another. This may be obvious to all of you, but I never worked that way. I'm very much a chronological-one-page-at-a-time girl.
  • I found that doodling or a little drawing in the early morning is just as meditative as writing and it leaves me with something a lot more pleasing to look at. I think instead of morning pages one could do morning doodles or something, haha.
  • I liked working in just one book instead of having all sorts of projects on the side. During these six weeks the fake journal was my only project and it was very peaceful. It made me feel less scattered. I have a tendency to take on too much at once.
  • It turns out I really like embroidery and handsewing! I very much liked working on the journal cover and embroidering with yarn on felt.
  • It's a lot harder to stay in character than I thought it would be. In the end I think MJ's just an alter ego, not really a different person. I didn't get to put all the stuff about her I thought I would into the journal. There wasn't enough time and also I was probably too taken by the process and what it meant to myself.
  • I missed my camera and the role photography plays in my journal. MJ was very much an analog girl in a digital world, but I like taking snapshots of everything and paste them into my books. So that is definitely something that I will not let go off. It surprised me that I missed photography more in the book than writing.

All in all it was a very educational and worth while experience. It really freed my mind and opened me up to new possibilities. I have decided that this way of journaling is definitely something I want to explore further, but then in a real journal with the added luxury of photography and maybe some writing now and then when I really need it.

I think I am making a shift in thinking. My journals so far have been a reflection mostly of the goings on in my life, everyday occurences and stuff like that, sometimes mixed with visual elements like beautiful lay outs. I really enjoy that too and I cannot say I will not return to that eventually.
But I think  right now I want my journals to be more a reflection of process and of myself as an artistic person. I think I'm making the shift to actual art journaling (whatever that means). I think 'No explanations' should be my journal mantra for a while, haha. I figure that if I need to explain anything this blog will be a perfect medium for it. Kind of like I'm doing right now, see?

I want to thank you all for being with  me on this fake journal journey. I had a blast. I will of course show you the cover when it's done (I hope to finish it this weekend, but not making any promises). And I will be picking out my next journal and introduce it to you as soon as I can.

The fake journal is over, let the real one commence!

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy weekend!

PS The pictures in this post are details of flower pattern paintings I did for the fake journal. I'm obsessed with them right now.


  1. Enjoyed reading your reflection on the 6 weeks with MJ. It's wonderful to work on a project just to shake up your usual method of doing things. Otherwise we stagnate.

    1. I really enjoyed the challenge Shirley, thank you.

  2. You have a great eye for color and how it works with placement/composition. These flowers are lovely to look at, like your patterns. I've also recently gone to doodling in the morning instead of writing. Yes, it's meditative. Plus I also list the date and time. At least I've stopped needing to write the exact time to the minute! My current journal is almost finished. Somewhere in the middle it became more of a common book where I keep everything - notes from talks I've gone to or listened to online, quotes, to do lists. Will try gluing stuff, like in travel books I've done. Much better than whining like I've done in many, many previous journals. Though I suppose those served their purpose at the time.

    1. Sometimes a little (or a lot of) whining helps you clear your head. My writing is often very repetitive and uninteresting, but it does help to clear my mind. However I do like to try a different approach and see if the visual way is just as relaxing and so is. ;-)

  3. Hi! Well, this was very interesting, as I didn't know about Fake Journaling! I do love your work...and play!

  4. I DO get what you are saying about the change in your style. You are evolving, and I agree, it would seem appropriate to say you are moving into "art journaling". I am not there yet; I am still journaling with stickers and collage.

    1. I love stickers and collage! You should see my collection, haha!

  5. I don't have the patience...ability? make up a fake person. I would keep forgetting who I said "she" was supposed to be and what she was supposed to think. Sometimes I already feel as if I AM two people. I change all the time, from one interest to another, from one art form to another. I seem to do and be all the things you are AND all the things your fake person is, too. I am a real mixed-up media. Maybe it would be better for me not to try to analyze anything about myself. Why should I prove that I am off the wall? Out of the box. Not 24/7! (I am joking here.......) All in all I love love love all that you say and do! You are soooo in touch with who you are and what you want. Amazing.

    1. In the end my fake person was just like me, but a bit more of where I want to go. I'm usually all over the place too, so it was very relaxing to just work on this project. It gave me a new perspective. I guess I am in touch with what I want, but for me the challenge is always sticking to it and not being distracted by ...oh you know... a 100 other ideas. ;-)

  6. I have never heard of this before either Caatje.... sounds interesting and fun... lovely to hear your story and experience.... and always wonderful to see your pretty artwork...

    Jenny ♥

    1. It really is fun Jenny, mabye one day you will give it a try too. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. I really like these flower patterns, Caatje, and enjoyed reading your reflections on the fake journal experience. It sounds like you came away appreciating some things from your usual approach to journaling, which might give you a spark as you return to your own practice. Thanks for sharing this project with us!


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