I enjoy doing creative things. I like to write. I like the process. I like having a finished product in my hands, something I can show to friends and family, or even send out into the world, hoping for wider publication. I feel the same way about photo and film projects. I’d go so far as to say these things are my passion. They give me a warm, wiggly feeling deep inside. At times, my reaction is close to what I imagine a “spiritual experience” might be for those inclined towards such things, a deep-dive panoramic sense of some greater cosmic truth, which peels away the curtain of drudgery to reveal a silvery, white-heat core just out of reach at the heart of things.

The point is, I’m drawn to create as more than just a pastime. It’s something I feel encoded in my DNA with an almost mystical imperative. Why then, do I often have to drag myself to the page or camera? Why is it that more often or not, it’s agony to get started on what I love doing. Why do I dread it, skirt around it, avoid beginning at all costs? It’s not laziness–at least as far as I can tell. I’ve examined this possibility quite carefully, and to the best of my ability to self-analyze, I don’t see much evidence of indolence. I don’t spend my time vegging out. My procrastinations tends to the take the form of skirting around a project, rather than relaxing entirely, fiddling with this and that, but not getting anything done. I think I’m pretty driven, overall, and tasked with doing something definite by a third part, especially if it involves a deadline, I have no problem going all in.

So, it’s not laziness.

I used to think it was entirely self-doubt–crippling, complete, soul-crushing self doubt on a pathological scale. But again, looking closer at the issue, I see that self-doubt is only part of it. Yes, one of the obstacles to engaging in anything creative is the fear that what we produce won’t be good enough, won’t stand up against other people’s work; that our ideas are feeble and uninteresting, our technique unremarkable. Yet, the difficulty doesn’t seem to emerge from self-doubt alone. Over time, I’ve been able to work on my confidence levels. I’ve been able to accept that I’m at the very least good enough, and what I produce isn’t so hopelessly inferior as to preclude its mere existence.

And yet the reluctance persists.

My mind vibrates with a thousand excuses, each more inventive than the last. Like a game of psychic whack-a-mole, I deal with one delusion only to find another one popping up to take its place. This idea will never sell, is a common one. It’s a good concept, but not publishable. Go ahead and work on something new. Yes, sometimes the problem is simply “shiny object” syndrome–a tendency to be seduced by the promise of a new project at that exciting beginning phase when everything is pure potential.

There are other excuses too, but ultimately, they add up to a single force of resistance, which is more than the sum of its constituent parts, an evolving barrier that mutates like a virus in the artist’s mind. This force is able to outmaneuver whatever reasons you deploy against it, always one step ahead of your desire, ever evading your self-will. In its absolute purity, it feels almost spiritual in nature, a spiritual affliction, something beyond reason. It is the energy of non-being against the impulse to be, entropy versus order, stagnation opposed to creation. Some essential aspect of reality, encoded in the collective consciousness of human experience, actively opposes anything good–anything inclined to add something to the world, to contribute to the lifeblood of positive culture.

If this is indeed the case, the remedy, naturally, will be existential or spiritual (depending on your belief system). In other words, it will require a response beyond reason, which transcends chains of logic. The energy of resistance won’t be reasoned with. It won’t listen to you. and so the response must be conceptually abstract, an instinctual priming of spirit against nothingness, which is more akin to attuning to a field of vibrations than it is to following an exercise regime or sequence of self help steps that prescribe A followed by B. You don’t defeat the resistance, or remove it in any meaningful way. You absorb it, let it run through you and out the other side in ways that prevent it from inflicting the damage it wants to inflict–to prevent you from working.

All this sounds terribly mystical, I know. for someone dedicated to reasonable explanation, I increasingly find myself confounded by my own unreason, made dizzy by a reality that refuses to conform to the contours of common human thought. We must, it seems, become increasingly uncommon. Our reason will only take us so far.

Ultimately, I can’t offer a final solution to the problem of resistance, and will likely end hashing it out in different ways in different articles. I have some sense of a solution, I suppose, but no language to describe it in a series of steps. Close your eyes and breathe. Go anyway. Just do whatever you’re trying to do, no matter how uncomfortable it is. Yet, these half-formed solutions are hardly adequate given the sheer scale of the problem before us (and I know well that i’m not the only one to face crippling creative resistance).

For now, I will keep working, and take what little victories I can. I anticipate revising these paragraphs will require quite a bit of self-will and effort.