I never heard the expression “weasel word” before but, after some exploration into the meaning, I find I like it very much. A “weasel word” is one that, on the surface, gives a false impression; it may soften a statement or be downright misleading.
The weasel reference implies sucking the meaning out of the word or phrase, the way a weasel sucks the content out of an egg. It is interesting that sources such as Phrase Finder and Wikipedia suggest weasels can’t or don’t suck eggs, but that didn’t stop Shakespeare from sullying the reputation of the poor little beasts:
I can suck melancholy out of a song, as a weazel sucks eggs. – As You Like It, 1600
In my own writing, weasel words appear as passive voice: “had been”, “will be”, “somewhat”, “evidently”, “possibly”. Eliminate the passive or soft words and phrases and my writing becomes much stronger.
I am; I act; Done!
What does gardening have to do with writing? I love to take a dirt break from writing, where I dig and plant and weed (well, sometimes I weed!) out in the fresh air. This clears my head, quiets my mind, and helps me reset my brain, so the writing flows more easily.
Gardening is a form of meditation for me. I don’t think when I’m gardening, I just dig around and enjoy the sensory impact: sun on my skin, fresh fragrances, birds singing. Quieting my mind results in consciously redirecting energy away from negative thoughts that do not serve me well, such as “I’m stuck”, “Where do I go from here?”, or “I’ve written myself into a corner and I can’t get out!” Even generalized anxiety over my work can impede me, including the dreaded “I don’t have enough time to write!” Pull my focus, or energy, away from negative thoughts and my brain shifts into a more positive state.
“This has beneficial effects on both the body (lower blood pressure, deeper breathing, relaxation of muscles, healing in cells, lower anxiety levels) and the mind (increased clarity, focus, and concentration, as well as better sleep and improved mood).”
Many brilliant people have taken a break from their creative thinking to participate in other activities, including the Albert Einstein. The patent office was his escape from big brain work:
“That secular cloister,” Einstein wrote Besso, “where I hatched my most beautiful ideas and where we had such good times together.”
So take a hint from the yogis and the world’s greatest thinkers: get dirty for better writing!