On July 1st, 1916, in the early morning dusk, the whistle blew.
Thousands of men emerged from the trench line and charged into No Man’s Land.
The largest army the British had ever fielded began advancing across a poppy field in the hope of pushing the Germans out of their entrenched position and routing the German lines.
That was the plan at least.
As the British advanced, German machine gun fire tore down wave after wave of British soldiers. At the end of the first day, the British had advanced only dozens of yards, and their casualties reached close to 60,000 men.
“there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man’s Land to begin the Battle of the Somme.” [The Old Front Line]
So began the Battle of the Somme, a four and a half month battle of attrition, where each day, the whistle blew, and men went over the top.
Every day, when we tap into the creative part of our brain, we enter No Man’s Land.
The Enemy (that ruthless group of bad habits and negative self-talk propaganda) doesn’t want us to make it across. The Enemy wants to cut us down before we reach our objective.
We fight for every inch of progress; every filled page, every shipped product, every filmed scene.
It’s not pretty moving through No Man’s Land. There will be casualties. Sometimes your work won’t make it. Sometimes the thing you poured your heart and soul into gets turned down by publishers, rejected by producers, or shot down by critics.
Sometimes, the end user – the person you made it for – hates it, or worse, dismisses it.
At times like these, it’s easy to give up. To forget why you started and simply quit. To say enough is enough and walk away.
It’s much harder, when that whistle blows, to go over the top one more time.
Fighting your own creative battle? Let us know in the comments below.
p.s. if you’re fighting alone, don’t. Join the Resistance instead: