The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. Something odd happened to me at about page 100 of my screenplay. Writing through the whole thing, I knew it wasn't the great piece of American literature ever put to paper, but I really thought it had promise. I knew it needed work, but I still would have called it good if you had asked me. Not because it was mine, but just because it seemed like something I would like.
Then 100 hit.
Page 100 came shortly after an odd phenomenon. For 70 or so pages before it, I was writing consistently. It was a page or two or ten at a time, but I was getting the work done on a constant basis. Then I came to page 100. It was such an accomplishment, such a sigh of relief, that I decided I'd take a day off and relax. That led to another day off. Which almost led to a third. It's a lot easier to get caught in a destructive cycle than a creative one.
So I'm at page 100, almost all of the work behind me, I take a few days to relax and ease my mind, and suddenly I can't write anymore. Not with the confidence I had before. Sitting down in front of the computer is a real battle. I look at the empty space in the page ahead of me, and it's just awful. How am I ever going to fill it? Every word I was writing, I hated. Suddenly, everything I wrote before, I hated. This script that I thought could be my best so far was now a waste of my time. I'd have to scrap it all and start over with a new idea.
But I'm a little more foolish than that. I labored through five more pages. Then seven more. Then a last five.
And now here I am, at the complete and entire end of my script. Draft one, locked down and ready for editing. A lot like my character at the end of his story, I'm faced with the aftermath of what I've done and what was done to me. I have messes to clean up and a life to figure out all over again. I can't be who I was before I started.
So why did I spend those days thinking that I shouldn't even bother finishing it?
If you ask me, I'll tell you what Steven Pressfield would. An external, destructive force called Resistance. It aims to stop anything positive in your life. And if it couldn't stop me before page 100, it'd have to try with all its might before I got any nearer to 120. It is the equal and opposite reaction to creation. It doesn't just attack me. It's after anyone doing anything worth doing. It will aim to destroy you like it tried to stop me.
The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
And it was never stronger than it was yesterday. I woke up thinking I could finish my script and it threw itself into high gear. Circumstances at work made me angry and upset. Traffic was crazy on the way home. I chose to eat unhealthy food. Sitting on the couch and drowning in TV seemed like a more fitting end to my day than finishing a painful work of art.
That's how I knew yesterday was the day I had to finish it. And I did. All 117 pages. I beat back Resistance this time. I couldn't be happier than I did. I actually did a happy dance as soon as it was done. Turned on some hip-hop music and danced around my house.
But I haven't forgotten what every artist and warrior knows -
The battle must be fought anew every day.