On the Usefulness of Elephants

I bought a Wacom Intuos4

The white page is an intimidating beastie sometimes; our minds go as blank as the page. All you need to break that blankness is… something. Anything.

It’s the difference between “Draw me a picture” – cue panicked face – and “Draw me a picture with an elephant in” – are we in the savanna? the circus? the pantry? our mind is away to the races!

So, an elephant is a starting point for creating. An antidote to overwhelm.

In business, niches are good elephants. What do I write about? Create offerings about? Talk to people about at parties? My niche, of course!

In fact, this may even become a problem. *dun dun dunnnnnn* (More on that another time.)

Otherwise, you can have a recurrent theme. (Mine, if you missed it, is truthfulness. At least for now.) A motif – hell, your elephant could literally be an elephant. An obsession. An audience. Wanna carry around a notebook to pop interesting things you encounter into? they’re great elephants. Ask your child what they’re thinking about. Choose an object in your vicinity. Just break the deadlock and make something.

Want some elephants? Here, I made you a list of ’em. You’re welcome.

Care and feeding of Elephants

– Keep your elephant-driven creations small, by default. Then, if it’s crap – and it’s quite possible it will be – you didn’t waste time and resources.

– What you create may end up not having an elephant in it at all. This is more than okay. The elephant has served its purpose, and is happy.

– Your elephant-directed creation may be irrelevant. If you have the Must Accomplish Goal Thingy Right Fucking Now tune playing on unskippable repeat, this is frustrating. Please remind yourself that staring at the white page begging it to turn into outcomes wasn’t working out either, and at least you got some warmups in.

– Then, use the momentum of having successfully created something to create the next thing.

– And take a moment to celebrate yourself for kicking the ass of that white page.

Bonus use for Elephants:

This is also a nifty trick for when your brain won’t shut up and focus.

I use it most often to get to sleep. I ask The Dude piteously, “Can I have an elephant, please?” And he’ll tell me to list things starting with S, or describe the rooms of a strange building with stucco walls, or imagine historical figures with 80s haircuts. And bam, I’m asleep.

I haven’t used it to create on days when I’m anxious. But I really fucking should try that soon.

Have you used the elephant? Tell us about it in the comments!

  • http://kareneeart.com/ Karen Renee

    I have used the elephant many times … without knowing it was an elephant. My favorite place to find them is … http://www.seventhsanctum.com/ They have elephants of every kind.

    • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

      Another elephant pile! Hooray!

  • http://elliedi.com/ Ellie Di

    I dig it!

    • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

      Ah, but have you used it?

      • http://elliedi.com/ Ellie Di

        I use it all the time, actually! Especially with short stories. I have a seed idea that I base the outline on, but inevitably the elephant changes as I go, letting me adjust and refine. It’s like the “old” writer saying: You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank one.