Pushing an elephant up a mountain.

I'm on deadline and he's laughing and taking a bath, go figure.
I'm on deadline and he's laughing and taking a bath, go figure.

Pushing an elephant up a mountain.

The above is how I best describe the feeling and torment I endure pretty much everyday of my professional and recreational writing life.

Sure, in a newspaper environment, especially a daily one, meeting deadline is all the pressure and incentive you really need to write but still, some days, I have to really lean my shoulder into Dumbo’s backside to get him up that mountain.

Most writers deal with procrastination, it is in our writer DNA. When most interns I have trained or family and friends ask how I write as I much as  I do, I usually tell them, truthfully, I have no idea.

The actual process does have a magical quality to it, when I really think about  it. There is this strange “manna from heaven” moment that unfolds. The whirling words, facts and ideas all seem to align, float down and just take over when the time is right to dance the Fandango with your fingertips across the keyboard and to wax poetic….just like that sentence, where did that really come from?


Wax poetic?

I doubt in all my years of writing professionally I have written those words…ever, and now I just tossed them down (and made them work mind you) in one sentence no less.

Whether I am writing my short stories, working on a book, blogging, feature writing or filing daily news, the struggle between the elephant and prose on the page always occurs for me.

I’ve delivered stories under some intense and trying circumstances but there was always that moment, even that minute or two under the time crunch, when I’ve looked at my notes, looked at the screen and thought, “Where do I begin?” Then, it takes one word, one quote, one mining of facts and threading of themes to find that nugget and I am off to the races.

The Toronto Star recently had a great piece about writers sharing their rituals of writing and that is what inspired this post. How about you fellow writers? Is it a struggle? Is procrastination your friend or nemesis? Do you have your own elephant you push up a mountain?


3 thoughts on “Pushing an elephant up a mountain.

  1. Hi, Vince,
    Great analogy! My personal elephant consists of a day-job in Accounting, (sometimes I don’t believe that one myself!) a terrific family including 2 kids under 12, a husband who also writes when he’s not working for a living, a hours of necessary book promotion.

    When I do sit down on a Saturday morning to write, I’m still thrilled with the way the words float out of my head and onto the screen. It amazes me.

    Best in writing and elephant pushing,
    Donna Carrick

  2. Ashleigh


    Where would I be without my go-to-guy when I feel alone and drowning in the type of insanity only known to course through the veins of an over-stressed writer?

    Doubting ourselves, giving into self-hatred and worst of all digging through the garage looking for a baseball bat are all moments which, most writers can relate to.

    Ultimately we just need to remind ourselves, our hard work will pay off, and our literary dreams we attempt to weave will thankfully never be hung on a sales rack for $8.99 at Value Village; and furthermore, be thrashed out in great detail over a long-distance cell phone conversation.

    You’re an OK writer 😉 (Hey, we all know who had the better article) But, more importantly, to me, you are an even better friend.


  3. Vince, I always enjoy every one of your articles, and you know I read the DCN first thing every morning. Love the elephant concept, in my case I feel the elephant is chasing me down the hill every day.

    As you know I have published hundreds of articles, four books, and over 60 major reports on industry issues. I can never refuse to do a lecture, or an article because people like you, and lots of others like us out in our field of work cant help ourself from getting the facts correct.

    We work too many hours, we need to get things perfect, and then we still triple think what we wrote. I hope you take the time one day to get the chance to write that best selling book, because you are more then talented enough to write one. I wish you all the best in the future, and will talk to you soon.

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