Day 13: 31Days of Journal Writing

Day 13: What if I want my journal to have more pizazz?

“My mother is a fish.”Pizazz

Anyone remember that quote? It’s one that caught my eye and has stayed in my memory for twenty years after the first time I read it, which was in AP Literature, the one course in high school that I could not wait to take. I wanted to take it my freshman year, but they frown upon that for what was then a senior level course.

And so I waited and finally, one day, I opened a book and read, “My mother is a fish.”

It’s from As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. Faulkner’s work is full of lines like this and his stories are often intensely detailed descriptions of events that are not conveyed in direct language. He was quite the talent.

There have been times I have opened up my journal and written “My mother is a fish.”

It usually is a line that comes up when I’m starting to get a little tired of my journaling practice. If this happens to you, and you’re looking for more pizazz in your journal, there are a couple of things that could be going on. I like to think of the desire to pack more of a pizazz punch as a two-tiers of possibilities to address.

The first tier is strictly visual. Or format. Or creative. Whatever you want to call it.

And you can achieve a higher level of pizazz-ness by adding a new or creative element to your journal writing.

Try writing in colored pens, or even markers (watch out for bleeding through the page). If you’re using the computer, choose another color to put on the page, or even chance the background color of your page.

You could also try really getting into the visual experience of journaling with an art journal. There is lots of inspiration online for you to explore that option.

Another element you could play with is using a different voice when you journal. Write some of your words as if you were speaking another language. Or use an accent.

Or write an entry like it’s a comic book strip. Use lots of words you would find in comics too: Boing!!! Zap. BANG!


The second tier is the one where you might be getting tired of your journal because the content you are writing about is starting to feel heavy and you would rather just put it behind you.

Let’s look at some examples.

  1. You have been writing in your journal consistently for more than a year, but lately when you pick up your pen, you feel tired and a little helpless. Looking through your journal you notice you’ve been writing a lot about your dream to leave a job you hate and start your own business. Writing about this dream is fine, but keeping the dream only in the pages of your journal will start to weigh on you. It makes you feel stuck and frustrated and you feel as though your dream will never happen. So why keep writing about it?
  2. The pages of your journal contain the story of a painful childhood. You’re now an adult and as you slowly document your story, there is a realization that a lot of these feelings still haven’t gone away. And there is an expectation for you to spend time with people who treat you terribly in the upcoming holiday season. You square your shoulders and start to look at your journal as dangerous because it contains your secrets and you can’t escape your past. Or the people from it.

For both of these examples, the cycle of using your journal to change your life will be complete when an action is taken.

Action can ignite your pizazz.

In the first example, what would happen if that journal writer started to write down some steps she could take to move toward starting her business? What if she figured out how much money she needed to survive each month so she could start planning to leave her job? What if she wrote down her business idea, started learning about marketing, and looked into what she support she needs to get her product or service off the ground?

Her energy around the dream would change. She would be moving toward it with intention. And the content in her journal would start to change too. She now has something to write about that gets her excited. Her own progress is a source of pizazz.

In the second example, our journaler is using her writing for healing and is realizing its time to cut some ties, but hasn’t done it. Removing yourself from people who don’t support you, but who also happen to be related to you, is easier said than done.

It might be time for her to start thinking in terms of small steps. If she’s not ready to avoid the people from her past altogether, what about limiting time? Arrive late. Leave early. Make sure she’s not alone with anyone who makes her particularly uncomfortable.

This doesn’t have to be an abusive situation. This could simply be the black sheep in the family who has a hard time connecting with others.

And there it is. Now you know my secret. That your journal is a tool that will lead to life change.

But only if you use it as the catapult to take charge of the life you currently lead. If you write and write and write the result will be pages and pages of something wonderful. Healing words, ideas and dreams captured, etc.

Unless you use the process to inspire strides in a new direction, they will always just be pages.

When you start taking steps to change, grow, improve, etc. you’ll start writing about it in your journal. And your journal will become a document that proves that you had an idea, made it happen, and had another one and did it again.

That you lived your life.

I believe a life well-lived is the pizazz we are all seeking.

So, bust out the colored pens (I adore the fine-tip Sharpie pens) and start splashing color on the pages to pizazz punch your journal.

And also take a look at what you’re working on and try taking action. Before you know it, your pages just might start sparkling.

Prompt for today: What exactly does the word “pizazz” mean to me? Do I have enough of it in my life?

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. Visit to get your FREE Journal Protection Plan and start using your journal to create more joy in your life.


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