Ok, I’m sure that you’ve all heard this phrase at one point or another.
Generally, it is used to refer to a point where you’ve veered so far off topic that you’re not getting anywhere. But I’d like you to take a few moments to consider what might be out there. While you’re doing that, I’d like to introduce you to someone:
This is Denna.
She’s my Border Collie, Aussie mix. You could figure that I named her after the character in Pat Rothfuss’s KingKiller Chronicles, or the character in Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule, and you’d have an equal chance of being correct.
Denna LOVES going out into the weeds.
Because there’s some great stuff out there. Every time I let her out, she’ll invariably, eventually, make for the weeds. Even if romping through the weeds isn’t the primary reason she’s going out, off she goes and a great time was had by all…
ok, maybe just Denna has the great time, but that’s not the point.
Here’s the point:
We could benefit from her example when we’re writing. Maybe it’s not what we sat down to do, but keeping an open mind about where the process takes us can lead us to some really good stuff: Story Ideas, Plot twists, stuff that you hadn’t considered before. It’s all out there.
So follow your nose. See where it takes you.
Also bear in mind Denna’s example of knowing when to come back out of the weeds. She really doesn’t, or she’ll come back when she’s reached the end of her interest in whatever it is that’s out there that smells so interesting.
So we should not be like Denna, in that there should be moderation – even while we’re out there in all that Weedy goodness, otherwise we’ll never make any progress. And, to be fair, she’s learning – just like we all are.
So get out there. Take your story out into the weeds, see what you might find.
And remember, every first draft smells like wet dog.