Ok. Admit it. It’s happened to you. You’re chatting with friends, laughing and blabbering away when suddenly another idea seizes control of your tongue and, several moments later, you’ve backed yourself in a verbal corner. How did I get here? you wonder. What the heck just happened? Instead of following a neat thought-thread from point a to z, you find yourself rattling around in point r. Granted point r is something you feel passionate about, but it led you astray. Maybe point r is a favorite cause, a fond like or a profound dislike. But, there you are. Off the track.
This happens to writers. When I write without an outline, I often end up in cave of cobwebby words and concepts, fighting toward the light, side tracked and frustrated. Usually, something interesting appears, something I can’t possibly use in the current story. It falls under the category of it’s fantastic but it doesn’t work here. Some of my best scenes turned out to be tangents and, I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t realize it until I did a huge revision on the novel.
I’m fairly tangent free now, but I always wanted to harness them. They are so full of potential and spontaneity.
(BTW, don’t delete those wandering thoughts. They could be the next big thing in your writing.)