I have a headache all day long today. Not a very nasty one but still enough of an excuse to skip my practice. Doing pull-ups, writing a report on the workout, drawing Pinky and Spiky comic strips, playing organ etc.
All these activities require a comfortable state of mind and body. My mind is OK but the physical pain might seem like an easy way out today.
Luckily, I’m committed enough to create every day and document my days in texts and pictures so I should also do those pull-ups, right?
I was surprised my workout went smoothly this morning. And I was able to increase the workload: 3 reps of 2 pull-ups and 4 reps of 1 pull-up.
I even ate 2 juicy apples in between the sets!
I’d like to try the maximum number of pull-ups tomorrow. Hopefully it will be more than 2…
I just know these days will come and go. Pain or without pain, my physical and creative challenges will need to be completed, at least at a healthy minimum level.
Oh, and I had worked on trimming the hedge for a few hours before and after lunch. Doing some physical activity in the open air actually helped reduce the pain.
How do you deal with a mild physical pain? Does it affect your creative and physical activities? Or do you push it away, kind of ignore it until it passes away?
I was waiting for this day too long!
For quite some time now I was doing 2 reps of 2 pull-ups and 3 reps of 1 pull-up. And all the while wondering when I can do 3 reps of 2… So this day was today.
I guess it would be too strenuous to add one more pull-up every day at this stage. I’ve read someplace that you should only increase the intensity for 10 percent a week to keep advancing and exercising without injuries or burnout.
It seems the 10 percent rule would work for many other activities. Like writing. Increase the word count by 10 percent a week, if you want to be able to write long-form posts. Like playing an instrument. Increase the speed of the piece by 10 percent a week. Like drawing. Increase the amount of time you spend drawing by 10 percent a week.
It’s interesting that I was barely able to do the 3rd set. Since today was the first day I even attempted this, I assume it’s normal.
Then the remaining 3 reps of 1 pull-up were hard but not impossible. With each one my muscles got weaker and weaker but I knew I could complete this workout today.
If my level was higher, say I could do 10 pull-ups, then adding an additional pull-up would come much more frequently. But now, since I’ve just progressed myself from the couch potato, I will have to be much more patient.
For every level its joy, isn’t it?
This morning I did 2 reps of 2 pull-ups and 3 reps of 1 pull-up. I rested in between the exercises while picking up fallen apples in my garden and eating a couple too.
I can feel that my progress has been unsteady one. Sometimes the workout was relatively easy to do but sometimes - very hard. I guess this is normal. It takes time for the muscles to recover and if I didn’t sleep well on some nights - then I find it very difficult to pull myself up.
The public accountability is a great motivator to continue to practice. People are waiting for my report online, they give me feedback and this positive feedback boosts my confidence the next day.
I think one of the reasons I failed at so many challenges in my life before was because I didn’t do them in public. I used to practice violin, tuba, trumpet, drums, Shotokan karate, Swedish, German and Italian, yoga and running just to name a few.
I did most of these activities in the comfort of my home where nobody could disturb me. But at the same time nobody held me accountable, nobody gave me feedback and thus my motivation to continue to practice vanished.
I feel that as long as I keep posting my reports about my pull-up challenge online, I will have motivation to go out every morning and jump on those rings.
Wow! Two weeks have passed but I haven’t quit…
I have to really scratch my head to remember myself doing any physical activity daily for 14 days in a row. If I continue to practice doing these pull-ups for 52 more days, I will have built a habit and won’t have to force myself to do it anymore.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. 52 more days! Let’s build up one more week for starters…
This morning my spirits were higher than yesterday when I compared myself to a sailor having set out to a voyage around the world. Today I’m thinking more of a mason who is building a house. Step by step or brick by brick.
My morning workout consisted of 2 reps of 2 pull-ups and 3 reps of 1 pull-up. That’s total of 7 pull-ups. 2 pull-ups are still a struggle for me but at least I know that a week ago a barely did total of 5 reps of 1 pull-up.
Again, it’s such a privilege just to continue to practice…
It was nice to read supportive comments of the previous post saying that I will soon reach the halfway. When you are in the middle of the challenge, you don’t see if you are moving at all. But I guess people who are looking from the outside can see this.
Because it can get pretty lonely after just 13 days into this mess, every bit of support is wonderful to get. I know it’s nothing to the dangers people face when sailing around the world but the feeling is a bit similar.
You left the land 13 days ago but you can’t yet see the shore. So the only way forward is to continue the voyage. But you also know that the worst it yet to come… For me it feels like I’m committed to see this challenge through but even the midpoint is nowhere in sight.
So this morning I did 2 reps of 2 pull-ups and 5 reps of 1 pull-up with the rest in between the exercises to pick up fallen apples. To my surprise, those initial 2 reps of 2 pull-ups went smoother than yesterday.
If I don’t hurt myself with this routine, maybe, just maybe I can reach 5 pull-ups in a month or so.
Yes, my muscles ached a little when I got out of bed in the morning. But this didn’t stop me from doing my pull-up routine.
In fact, I increased the intensity - I did 2 reps of 2 pull-ups and 3 reps of 1 pull-up with 2 minute rest today.
The first 2 pull-ups felt really strong. I thought I’m progressing. But then the second set went much harder. Nevertheless, somehow I managed to finish the workout.
Tomorrow I plan not to push myself too much - I don’t want to quit because of injuries. We’ll see if I’ll repeat with the same intensity or reduce it a little.
My 10 pull-ups seem ages away!
Right now I’m scared of creating an ending for my book. I feel like for the last month or so I’ve been slowly building this thing step by step. I don’t know if I was ready. I don’t know exactly what I was doing. I have no intention for it to be perfect. I’m sure not enough people know about it. I had a terrific but also a terrifying time of creating it. I’m a different person now than before.
But right now is the time to let it go. Because it’s time for other people be affected by it.
Imagine you have already created something you’re scared of now. A blog post, a book, a painting, a symphony, a play, a poem, a film.
Forget the fear. Forget the excuses. Forget the fact you are not ready. Forget the fact you don’t know how. Forget that it’s not perfect. Forget that nobody knows about it.
Just imagine you faced your fears, you dismissed the excuses and finished the damn thing.
How does it make you feel? Do you feel relieved? Are you proud of yourself? Do you feel excited to be able to start the next thing?
If the answer is yes, now go do it.
Create. Share. Repeat.
Yesterday morning it felt like I’m spinning my wheels…
For ten days in a row I was able to only do 5 reps of 1 pull-up. I thought of quitting more than once. But since I’m documenting my challenge publicly, I feel I have to push harder and not to give up.
But then yesterday evening I accidentally did one more pull-up and one 30 second dead hang.
It was relatively easy to hang with my hands extended for 20 seconds but the last 10 seconds were a light torture. My fingers ached, even though I was wearing my fitness gloves. Nonetheless I wanted to see if I could hang longer than before. And I did it. So maybe I only feel like spinning the wheels while in reality I’m going somewhere.
Today my morning started not with pull-ups but with the hunt for a huge spider. Ausra called me and said with a frightened voice, “Look, here is our Victor”. It’s a sure sign of the fall approaching when spiders are crawling in the house. This time Victor was simply waiting on the wall next to our bathroom. Was he hungry for Ausra or for me? How many domestic concerts did he listen to for free while we practiced our organ duets?
Victor is a spider character in our Pinky and Spiky comics series. Obviously Ausra didn’t want the spider in the house so I had to put it into a container and take it outside as Ausra was opposed to the idea of me letting him grow behind the cupboards.
So I grabbed my spider-hunting gear - a used container from a cottage cheese and a sheet of paper and carefully came over to that wall without switching on the light. After a moment or two Victor was in my container in my left hand while my right hand put the sheet of paper as a lid. I took him outside and as I threw him on the flowers in our garden it landed on the feet and stood there frozen. Either Victor was in shock of sudden change in temperature or my impolite behavior towards him or both. But that’s what you get when you don’t pay your rent, right?
So anyway, with the spider out of the way I was ready to do my pull-ups.
I jumped on the rings and did one pull-up. Not too hard, I thought. Then I picked up some fallen apples in the garden and again pulled myself up one time. Then again picked up some apples. This time I had to save an apple from the angry mob of ants which were eating it.
So I did 5 pull-ups with breaks of about 2 minutes in between them. Similarly to yesterday, the last two pull-ups were harder to do but actually tiny bit easier.
I was done with the pull-ups but still had some strength left in my arms and some fallen apples waited for me to be picked up.
Instead of going home, I did 3 more reps of one pull-up with rests. Total of 8 pull-ups today! Maybe I’m making progress after all…
To be fair, I did the last 3 pull-ups with lots of help from my legs. I know the form was not perfect but I wanted to see how much longer can my willpower hold today.
Tomorrow we’ll see if there are any consequences of this morning’s routine as I suspect muscle strain will be harder to ignore.
Sometimes when I create, it’s difficult to get new ideas. But more often than not one idea leads to the next and I can catch a new idea every hour.
A flood of ideas.
For example, the ideas for the last 5 or 6 posts I wrote came to me suddenly, sometimes while I was writing one post. Sometimes when I was re-reading the last one. Usually I find new ideas when listening to inspirational podcasts.
It doesn’t always work that way. I have to think harder when the subject matter doesn’t move me. Then it can feel forced. But when we are talking about creativity, I get very passionate. I guess this is what helps me suddenly find new ideas. Or maybe the other way around - new ideas find me.
Then there is the question of retaining ideas, not losing them.
Have you ever had a curious idea come to you and you would be walking with this idea entire day but then suddenly forget and when the time comes to create, you can’t remember it… It’s very frustrating.
That’s why I carry my notebook with me whenever I go. Sometimes I can draw Pinky and Spiky comic strip while waiting in the car or when others would simply scroll the phone.
But I guess even better way would be journaling. Sort of writing a diary. Then I would be able to write down all those interesting ideas and later act upon at least some of them.
I have tried to start writing a diary more than once but failed to continue. You probably know that feeling. At first, when the enthusiasm is high, you write every day but after a week or so, it becomes a drag, sort of one more thing you have to do with your limited time and you quit.
One diary writing technique that cartoonist Lynda Barry teaches might be easier to pursue. It only takes 7 or 8 minutes. In your notebook, you list 7-8 things you did in the last 24 hours for 2 minutes. Then list 7-8 things you saw in the last 24 hours. Also for 2 minutes. Then write something you heard someone say for 2 minutes. Like a sentence or two. And the last 2 minutes you spend drawing a picture from those previously listed ideas with something you did, saw or heard in the last 24 hours. That’s it. That’s only 8 minutes and you have your daily diary entry.
I think I’m going to try to start this type of diary again. But I have to figure out where to write it. It seems like it should be a larger notebook than the pocket one I use for drawing my comic strips. But then the problem is that I won’t be able to carry it with me wherever I go.
I’m lazy. I like to have everything I need within arm’s reach. So we’ll see which one works best.
Then I’ll always have something to choose to create from.
A sudden flood of ideas.
Yesterday I heard Elizabeth Gilbert who is the author of Big Magic: Creative Living Without Fear and other books share on her podcast Magic Lessons this idea that only a few people who run a marathon are winners. And there are others who finish the race and those who don’t finish it.
Those who don’t finish tend to look down on themselves. And society of course doesn’t help here. They call them quitters.
But, Elizabeth continued, majority of people don’t even start. So those who did not finish are actually ahead of them.
It’s so true in creating art, too.
If you are frustrated with yourself that you tend to start various projects and not finish them, know that most people don’t even begin creating either because of fear of failure or fear of success. That’s why true artists are so hard to find.
I started but not finished practicing many things, including writing diary, swimming, running, Navy SEAL’s workout, fugal improvisation, playing euphonium, drums and violin and reading many books so I know how you feel. I probably quit because they didn’t matter to me that much.
But I’m glad I’m continuing to practice a few things now that are important to me. And by trying many different things I’m finally finding a few that stick.
It’s better not to finish than not to start at all.