When You’re Drowning in Words

by | Apr 24, 2020 | On Writing | 8 comments


My friend Kim and I were talking about words the other day. She mentioned a haiku she’d written, following the form of three lines of verse and a pattern of syllables- 5 in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the last. We discussed the simple fact that when you are limited by form it forces you to be concise. Word choices become intentional in order to convey meaning and evoke an image for the reader.

When I ventured out to my garden with this in mind, I took the above photo to discover via PlantSnap (my plant ID app) what this white-petaled flower was. My husband asked a neighbor who was renovating their yard if he could dig up the unwanted greenery–‘yes, of course’- and successfully rehomed them in my perennial bed.

I didn’t know what the plant was named and was delighted to learn something new.

Annual, family ‘lunaria’, common name ‘honesty.’ A plant named honesty. Well, that’s something to ponder.

It seems like we’re drowning in information in this #lifeinthetimeofcorona. Yes, that’s a hashtag; you can Google it.

Everywhere you turn online there is someone else with another opinion about What’s Really Important to Know Right Now. It’s overwhelming. Should I wear a facemask in public or not? How is this virus actually spread? Should I wipe down my plastic bags when I get home from the grocery store? And how long are we going to be asked to #stayhomestaysafe?

It’s hard to be brief when we want to communicate what really matters–we’d rather just talk on and on. Or maybe that’s just me. Experts in every field have an opinion to pay attention to these days.

The overwhelm is real, and leaves me feeling like anything I have to say doesn’t really matter. In a weird way I feel like I’ve run out of words… so many syllables swirling in the atmosphere, they’ve all been used up. Or the virtual air is overcrowded and my thoughts seem unnecessary compared to everyone else’s.

In this season of self-isolation and social distancing, my soul can feel squashed. There’s extra mental energy required to cope with simple daily tasks like grocery shopping or going to the drugstore, and I easily feel like I’ve run out of creativity of any kind. The subtle lie creeps in that seeking to create is a waste of time when people are dying. 

But creativity is often an act of defiance. To choose to find beauty in the middle of a pandemic–whether it’s noticing the way one enjoys the budding of spring or the joy in a baby’s smile–can feed the soul. Penning a few simple but purposeful lines to capture that beauty is a choice I’m willing to make anyway.

We are makers, God’s poiema–His ‘made thing’. 

Even small bits of creating–trying a new recipe, writing a note to a friend, sending a text, beginning a piece of handwork, planting seeds–anything that honors and affirms life right now is an act of defiance, a way of using our words (and actions) to declare what really matters.

Let’s be honest. Let’s be makers.


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  1. Oh I will hold onto those words…creativity as an act of defiance. There are so many words right now and you are so right, it’s exhausting to know what is the right course of action. Thank you for writing this post. Oh and I was thinking Lunaria is silver dollar plant. Am I off-base?

    • Helen, thank you… I’m glad the words resonated. And yes, lunaria is the ‘money’ plant. I’m gonna end up with a lot more in my back yard I think 🙂

  2. Three years ago I started a journal titled, A Celebration of Small Things. Every day I write a few sentences to capture a lovely observation or a delightful experience, and have discovered just what you’ve stated here: it feeds the soul–on gratitude and praise. Thank you for your words, Jody. Seven-plus years I’ve followed your blogs, and in post after post, you’ve declared what really matters and inspired me to aim for the same. I am grateful for you!

    • Nancy, it is a g i f t to be connected online and in person all these years. I treasure your readership and encouragement.
      Thank you!

      • (I would leave a happy face emoji here if I knew how to add one to a blog post!!)

  3. Yes, the struggle is real. I’ve also found myself kinda tied up in knots, although for slightly different reasons. I’ve felt similarly other times “big events” have been happening, hard to tell where my words belong in the world and who I’m even hoping to (or called to) address. Returning to writing the things right in front of me (similar to your trip to the garden) seems to help me in such times. Peace to you, creative one.

    • Oh, I know what you mean…. I keep trying to remember a friends’ words that come back to me from time to time, “Just do your piece of the quilt.” That helps me when I worry about whether what I have to say is “important” enough. We all reach different people with our words, and we never know who they’ll connect with. Like you. I appreciate you, Kelly.

      • Love that bit of quote: “Just do your piece of the quilt.” Wise advice in just seven words. Thank you, Jody!

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