I found this whilst having a look around the site, so thank you to the person that wrote it originally. I thought it would be a good idea to have it on the CJ forum - especially for people who would like to join a CJ but have no idea what it involves.

What is a CJ?
A Circle Journal is like a Round Robin. A group of up to 10 people get together, each with a themed journal. The journals are passed around in a circle with each member contributing to the books and passing them on. Eventually, your book will pass to all the people in your Circle and finally back to you.

The journals are each passed to the next person in line on a specified date. When you receive a journal, you look at the theme and the owner’s likes/dislikes and create a layout. When you have finished you wait for the next posting date and pass it on, receiving the next one, until your book gets back to you.

You should not send books in advance of the posting date unless asked by the person receiving it. If you have to because you are going away, you should organise this with the person receiving and let the organiser know.

Post is normally first class and ALWAYS recorded but with the increase in postage prices, 2nd will also suffice. You should pay to send each book along as it comes time to pass it on. Books will get heavier over time, so please remember this when planning your CJ.

Which Book?
Your book needs to be postable. Don’t forget people will be adding things, so the weight will get heavier as it goes along. As for binding, you want something durable. Book rings are a popular choice. Glued-in pages are best avoided because eventually the pages will come away from the binding with constant use and general wear and tear. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you might want to use a small album or make your own book, but for a beginner it’s far easier to just buy one and see the final result so you know what to choose for next time.

Themes
The theme of your book can be anything you choose and it might depend on the circle you are in. The themes need to be generic so that everyone can contribute, so choosing a theme like ‘Weddings’ won’t necessarily be suitable for everyone. ‘Favourites’, ‘Inspirations’ and ‘Beautiful’ are good start words if you’re stuck for a theme. But it needs to be a theme you’ll like when the book is complete too.

Decoration – the outside cover
Decoration of the cover should be according to your theme and something you will enjoy looking at. Again, remember it needs to be postable and durable, so if you really want it covered with antique lace, you might want to wait until you get it back before you finish the decoration. Anything that sticks out too much, makes the book too heavy or might easily become detatched ought to be left until you receive your book back. Also – some people choose to make their covers when they get their CJ back and just send around the pages (normally in page protectors)

You can cover your journal in anything – paper, material, library sticky plastic, collage, decoupage… the choice is endless. People contributing on the whole look after these books, but the same cannot always be said of Royal Mail unfortunately. Use plenty of common sense and you can’t go wrong. You might want to add some sort of adjustable closing (like tie-able ribbons) to keep the book closed securely, but don’t use anything that will prevent add-ins until you get your finished book back and know its final thickness.

An Introduction – the Inside front cover
You will need to decorate the inside cover and the first single page. A good way to do this is to use these pages to explain your theme, your likes and dislikes and any special instructions. You might have a cat phobia and not want cats in it, you might be colour-blind and ask for a specific colour not to be used. You might be a glittery person and specify that everyone must use glitter in their layouts! It’s your book, you set the ‘rules’.

However, try not to be too restrictive. Specifying that everyone uses a specific LO style might mean some people can’t do their entry in the way they’d like to. You need to allow everyone room to be creative, but we all have our pet hates and favourites, and most people will understand reasonable requests. You can do these pages in any form you like – a letter, pictorially, hidden journaling, tags, any way you want.

Signing in – the Inside back cover
In the back inside cover and the last single page, you need to create a signing in section for people to say who they are, which page they contributed etc.

Again, you can do this anyway you like. The most common way is a simple list on paper, tags etc. over two pages, according to the mailing list, but there are thousands of ways to do this. Slide mounts or envelopes for people to put a mini-photo and message in, a patchwork of cut-out shapes, metal rim tags… the list is endless.

It is always a good idea if you are pre-naming the sign in page, to put it in the order of the mailing list so there is no confusion about who gets the book next. Your organiser should provide you with this when or before the first post date is announced.

There is nothing to stop you asking people to leave a photo either if you want to, but please remember some people are camera shy and might prefer to just use a picture that represents their personality.

Among these, you should also include your own name and postal address. You might put this in as a temporary item to be removed when you get the book back if you prefer, but it should be noticeable by the people receiving the book. Some people are involved in several swaps and CJ’s and it’s easy to forget whose CJ is whose. Putting your name and address in ensures your book can be returned directly to you if all else fails.

Etiquette
It probably goes without saying that other people’s journals should be treated with respect. However, don’t forget that what you consider normal might be a problem for someone else. Journals should be kept away from pets to avoid causing discomfort to anyone with allergies; if you smoke or have young babies, a little packet of pot pourri etc in the parcel will be appreciated by the next person to receive it. Always check your parcels before sending for any unwanted or uninvited additions!!!