Both a friend and you each purchase a journal--make sure you purchase the exact same one. A medium-sized (9.75" high x 7.5" wide) composition book is a nice format, because it contains 100 sheets, for 200 pages. It's easy to find almost anywhere, from drugstores to department stores, and the sheets are sewn in (rather than edge-glued) for a more lasting binding. The best thing about it, though, is the price--usually around or under a couple dollars. That helps make the craft affordable for all ages. This composition book size is so standard that, for extra cost, you can also find ones with fancy covers and name brand characters on them. As an added consideration, you may wish to make sure you also match the number of lines on each sheet of paper, if you choose to go with composition books from different companies. Someone with 30 lines on each sheet instead of 25, for example, will be writing 1,000 more lines than a friend whose journal only has 25 lines! Or, if you know someone writes big and you write small, you may have an agreement such as that that person will use a journal with 30 lines and you'll use one with 25 (these two types exist in this standard dimension).
Your friend should be close to you (enough that you're extra chatty with one another) and love to write. You should love to write, too. The love of writing is the most important factor to consider and, in this day and age of electronics, is a little tough. Your friend may live a world away, or be right around the corner. That doesn't matter. The main thing is that you both have to have a passion for writing.
You will be writing a journal for your friend, and vice versa! The journals can contain whatever you both agree is fine to include. You can also have the rule of: no rules! Actually, there is one rule you must have: No ripping out pages! The page count will change, and the pages are doubled, so you'll have pages fall out if you do this. Think through what you're writing first, so that there's nothing you'll feel silly about later and want to remove. Some ideas of things to include are: stickers, personal recipes, jokes, stories, book reviews, movie reviews, puzzles (like a word search or maze) and poetry, aside from typical letters to one another. Just be sure not to include too many paste-ins or thick items, because the book won't be able to be closed as easily, the binding might crack, and the rate to ship the book, should you live far from one another, will increase. I had a rule for my book--no paste-ins at all. Ink stamps are useful for adding decoration without added bulk. Also, you can draw things. For example, if you're putting in a recipe you just made up, try drawing a recipe card around it.
Do you want to decorate the cover? You can add things like stickers, fabric, photos, scrapbook paper, and lamination to personalize it. The cover will get a lot of wear and tear and decorations may make it more difficult to lie flat, so you may wish to wait and decorate it after the journal is complete. Or, start off with a more expensive composition book that already has a decoration.
Remember to write about your friend and what's going on in her life at the time, not just yours. That will help her remember as she reads your book, and also make it feel more personal to her. In the end, you'll each have a special treasure. Try to keep the journals fresh and exciting by talking about them regularly. Staying enthusiastic over such a big project may help both of you finish. Let your friend know sometimes what you're writing in his or her journal. For example, "I just read a good book and I wrote a book review in your journal!" or "We had so much fun today, I'm going to write it in your journal so you'll always remember it." Not only will that make things more exciting, but it may also give your friend an idea for something to write, too.
And if you simply can't part with your own journal, then you can photocopy or scan it as you go--don't wait until you're done, though, because that will be too much work and you won't be able to send it to your friend immediately upon completion. (By the way, you get to keep the copy. Be sure to swap the originals!) Because I didn't want to do this, I went through mine when I was done and wrote down dates and events I thought were important, to keep for my own reference.
Says:The most important part of this craft is to pick a friend you trust, who loves to write who won't do things like cheating and writing one word on one page, or (worse) giving up altogether. It requires a long term commitment and it takes a lot longer to fill a book than one might think. I tried this in my teens with a pen pal and was left with a partially finished journal of my own, addressed to someone else, because she gave up. This is a huge commitment, and both friends should know about that upfront and be passionate about the project. I would also suggest numbering the pages and being accountable to one another about what page you should be on at a certain time.
Pictured is the 200-page journal I made for a friend, from August 2012 to January 2013. It's covered in three different scrapbook papers (one is on the back) and a sticker. Making one was economical. Sending it cost over two-and-a-half times the cost of the journal!
Providing crafts since October 2011. Copyright 2011- and all contents by Millie. Resulting products can only be kept or given away as gifts. Always keep safety in mind.