Letter Journal Love – 4. Working in your journal

Assuming you have already made your blank journal (with maybe a bit of stamping, paint or printing on the pages before you stitched it), here are the next steps:


This is your journal! Make it your own unique expression of YOU! You can stamp, collage, write, draw etc. You might like to put the month and year on there somewhere, and your name.

Please use the inside back cover to write out all the addresses IN THE ORDER that the books will be sent in. Put your own name at the top of the list. This swap order will be told to you at the start of the swap. Write out each persons address in full on the inside back cover, including your own.  This really really helps. Like really really. Trust me on this one. You won’t be popular with your group members if you skip this step.

When you send your journal you might like to note the date next to your name. Others may do the same, writing the date they received your journal next to their name and address. This isn’t essential but can be nice to know and doesn’t hurt.


Please use the inside front cover to write a short introduction for yourself and welcome people to your journal. If you would like a theme for your journal you can introduce it here on the inside cover too.  You can also ask each member to introduce themselves on there or ask them a specific question to answer ‘what’s your favourite ….’ ‘where are you sitting right now…’ etc. Whatever feels right to you.


Now as the journal owner it’s your job to get it started. This means adding some colour, pattern etc to the page sod the journal. Not every single page, but most of them. It’s nice to leave some a bit blank for those who like to work on blank and some already patented and with things on them for those who like to bounce of something.

What might doing a background involve? Up to you but could be:

  • smearing paint thinly on a page
  • doodling with coloured pens
  • getting your kids to draw in there
  • some stamping
  • blotting ink or paint on with a sponge
  • creating ‘borders’ with wash tape, coloured markers, or thin strips of paper
  • sticking one random collage item on

Whatever it is, it’s not a completed artwork and it’s not too heavy with thick lathers of collage. And it will also be changed and worked on by the next person, and the one after that.


After you’ve made your journal and done some backgrounds, and before you send it out YOU NEED TO MAKE ARTWORK IN YOUR OWN JOURNAL. A few newcomers have been missing this step and it’s an important one. The artwork you make will help inspire others and set the tone a bit for your journal (but no pressure! lol). But…. not on every single page. You finish two ‘spreads’ (two pages side by side – imagine you are reading a book, we would be talking about the page on the left and the page on the right that you can see when reading – that is a spread).

EVERY journal in the swap ends up with artwork from EVERY member in the swap. Does that make sense?

And what artwork will you make? Up to you. You can do that by drawing a picture, doing a collage, finger painting, or just making pretty patterns by sticking things on. It’s completely up to you – your unique style and exploration is welcome!

A note here that sometimes people think there is a certain look or style expected in this group because you might see some similar approaches in pictures shared on Facebook. That’s absolutely not the case. If your style is lots of layers, do that (within weight limits). If your style is simple drawings, do that. If you like a punk theme, do that. If you are all about the neons, bring it! If you like writing, include writing. If you do something different every time, great. If you want practice drawing faces – go right ahead. Really, in my humble opinion, the more diverse the contributions are the more we are all challenged and stretched and inspired, so ‘vive la difference’!

Please put your name and the date on your finished spreads so people know to leave those pages alone and not go over your work🙂

Now. In exceptional circumstances (like you just can’t quite bring yourself to finish your second spread right now) you can put your second spread on hold until the journal comes back. If this is you and you for whatever reason want to finish one at the end of the swap rather than now just go ahead and finish ONE spread and sign it. Then write on one of the other pages ‘I will finish this spread when I get the journal back. Feel free to add to it in the meantime’ and your name. That way people will leave it for you to finish but it will have lots of juicy backgrounds done.


Yes!! Absolutely ! later when you call a swap you can ask if a whole group of people would like to all swap journals on the same theme, but in the mean time you can just decide to make your journal have a theme. Even in your beginners swap you can do this. It’s a good idea to make your theme very clear by writing an introduction page in your journal… Others in your swap can either go with the same theme in their journals, or a different one, or no theme.

SHARE! When you do make your first journal – show us what you did in the Facebook group! We would love to cheer you on.



♥ Do you know that you need to decorate your cover?

♥ Have you made an intro page on the inside front cover?

♥ Do you know to put the swap order and addresses on the inside back cover?

♥ Do you understand that you can play on a bunch of pages doing ‘backgrounds’ before your journal gets sent off?

♥ Have you made a completed spread and signed it?

♥ Have you made a second completed spread ad signed it? (or included a page that says you’ll come back to it later?)



If so my friend you are ready to find a swap!! Have fun! Share a photo with us when you make your first blank journal! We will cheer you on.

Next step in your induction and training is to read about is Module 5 – Joining a Swap. Please don’t join your first swap before you’ve completed every module.

Looking forward to seeing your lovely work, swapping with you and having fun.