Issue № 56

The practice

I am often stuck in the resistance right before actually writing. It usually takes me several attempts to approach the work. It feels like walking up the slippery slope of a small hill, where the initial speed and direction has to be perfect, and then with continued effort—a penguin waddling judiciously—I reach the gently rounded top of the hill (after sliding off obtusely a few times and beginning again.)

I can easily be nudged into sliding off that small hill by distractions. I’m drawn to address the distraction. Can I fix that so it doesn’t happen again? (For example, change fundamentally how my phone is configured.) But I know that distractions are not all bad and I know that I can hide in the busyness of getting things just right. (Hazards warned of by both Pressfield and Godin.)

Besides that, if you want to get anywhere interesting, there’s no substitute – not even talent – for grinding away at something year after year until you’ve put more work into it than almost anyone else alive.

~ Cierra Martin from,

The word grinding feels too negative a way to spin simply doing the work. If I think, “that’s going to be grinding,” I’m setting myself up to more easily slide off that little hill. Because invariably—for the things I have to, and want to, do—the actual work is exceedingly easy. Easy like gleeful skipping. All of the hard part is in the way I think about the work before I ever begin. Even using the word “work” feels too negative. All of the hard part is in the way I think about the practice.


They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

~ Andy Warhol


I’ve often mentioned journaling. A few years after I began journaling seriously, I started taking time to read my older journal entries. Initially, I was setting aside some dedicated time early each month to simply spend time with my old journal entries. I was just randomly hopping around looking up things, and reliving old adventures (at least, those I’d taken the time to write about.) I soon ended up with bookmarks at various number-of-years-ago.

Eventually I wanted to reign in the time I was spending reading. (The author of my journals is the most fascinating person I know of, so I can really get lost navel gazing into my journals.) I process-ified the entire thing (which I’ll skip explaining because it’s not important) and now, every day, I read my journal entries from 1-, 3-, 6-, and 9-years-ago. It only takes a few minutes and it is _endlessly_illuminating.

Oh the adventures I’ve had! The thrills… the spills… the ups and downs!

[…] most of the fun is in the experience and not in the reminiscing. We don’t actually spend most of our days enjoying memories. How many minutes yesterday did you spend thinking about that trip you took last year?

~ Jacob Falkovich from,

This article by Hoffman is typical. You’ll probably love it or hate it. The part I’ve quoted is way down in the middle part and not a major point. But it leapt off the page for me. I’ve long known that journaling has at least corresponded with my improvements, in the sense that it has raised the depth of the downward dips—this is a very important achievement. Alone, it’s reason enough that I intend to never cease journaling. Hoffman’s mentioning reminiscing as being a valuable activity related to happiness, has made clear another reason to never cease.


The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched—they must be felt with the heart.

~ Helen Keller


Setting a challenge for myself seems simple enough. Pick a goal and then work to reach it. But there needs to be more than the goal, and the process. There also needs to be some sacrifice; What will it be necessary for me to give up in order to attempt the challenge? There also needs to be some risk; Risk of physical loss, injury or monetary cost are obvious options, but a good challenge has mental, even spiritual, risk attached. Who will I be after this challenge? What about success itself? I think a good challenge must seem achievable (it mustn’t fly in the face of reality) but must actually be uncertain. It takes a special person to set and truly attempt a challenge that they aren’t certain they can achieve.

I am going to try to convince you to spend the next 4 days watching a YouTube live stream of people running round a 4.1 mile loop in Tennessee, all day and all night.

~ Matt Webb from,

I’m not sure what to say about this “backyard ultra”. Fortunately for you, the race will be over by the time this post appears. You don’t risk being sucked into the live stream by reading Webb’s article. While I’m not the least bit attracted to attempting something like this, I read the article slowly. The challenge that lies at the heart of this race is something I understand. I’m not suggesting you go try to run one of these races, but I do hope you have experienced true self-set challenge.

Exerting yourself

Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: That’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.

~ Haruki Murakami


I don’t think ego is good or bad, it simply is. What matters (to me) is what I do, and what I do with my ego. Do I project my ego out onto the world (the way one can project a film onto a live scene in daylight: You can see the original people and things, but the film adds color and shape and, possibly, changes one’s perceptions) and examine and evaluate others colored by my own ego? …or do I try to go deeper and imagine what others might actually be experiencing, what their ego might be like?

Foremost, you must make a decision about your ego.

~ Paul Niquette from,

That insanely deep dive by Niquette is a refreshingly self-aware attempt at proving who should be given credit for inventing the word “software”. The part I’ve linked, isn’t even the last part. I found myself reading and knowing there was a time when I could easily have fed my ego in such a protracted journey— but I don’t think I would have been able (back at that time) to do the self-aware zoom-out that Niquette attempts. Possibly interesting to you; Definitely the sort of thing I find myself mulling over these days.

Until next time, thanks for reading.



Leave a Reply