During the month of April I brushed one Kanji everyday as a daily practice.
I struggled the first few days. I had a hard time deciding what Kanji to brush. I couldn’t decide when to brush, or for how long. I had to juggle so many things in my day to allow this self imposed practice.
I had a simple reason. I wanted to create a challenge in order to force myself to practice Shodo every single day. I do better when I have goal to achieve.
After the first week, things got easier. My daily practice became a routine. I knew what time I was going to brush. The inspiration for my daily Kanji came earlier in the day. Sometimes, I knew the Kanji for the day as soon as I woke up. Towards the end of the month, I knew the Kanji a day ahead.
On April 30th I posted the picture of my last Kanji for the month. It felt like such an accomplishment. I was so proud of myself. I had brush 30 new Kanji. Some one commented on that picture: “why stop now?”
I was a bit upset when I read that comment. I had worked so hard to keep this up. I had to sacrifice so many things in order to fit in this practice. When I posted that last picture with the words “this is coming to an end! I finished!” Nobody said congratulations. Instead I get this comment.
Why stop now.
Ever since I wanted to go back to a daily practice. There was no reason to stop. The comment upset me because I had no answer. Why stop? I don’t know.
A week ago, I decided to bring back the challenge of brushing one Kanji everyday for 30 days.
This time I didn’t want to do it alone. I wanted people to do this with me.
“Who’s up for a 30 day daily practice in August?” I asked my students enrolled in my Intro to Japanese Calligraphy Online Course. I posted the question in our private Facebook Group. Immediately I got a bunch of them replying that they were up for the challenge. I got so excited because I knew how much this helped me and I wanted others to experience the same.
But I knew that brushing one Kanji again for 30 days was no challenge for me. I have already done it, so there was no question of whether I could do this or not.
During the month of July I started uploading two videos a week about Shodo to my YouTube channel. One video on Wednesday and another on Saturday. I was struggling a bit with this schedule because ever since 2011, when I started my YouTube channel, I have never been able to keep a consistent video release schedule.
How about, I not only brush one Kanji every day, which would be easy for me, but also make a daily video about this Kanji?
This sent chills through my spine. I have to record footage everyday about a specific word, brush the Kanji on camera, edit the video and upload it to YouTube.
Everyday for 30 days.
Among all forms of media, video is by far the most difficult and time consuming. It is also the one I enjoy the most. Fifteen years ago, before I was seduced by the life of restaurant kitchens, I wanted to be a filmmaker. This challenge also scratches this itch of making movies that I’ve had since I was a boy.
It all made perfect sense. I wanted to do it, but I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this ridiculous challenge. I was scared to disappoint my students who I know would be looking up to my brushwork. I was scared that my life was not interesting enough, that I don’t have the skills to make this short “movies” around a theme and turn it into a Shodo lesson.
I got rid of this fear one day by saying f*ck it. Who cares. I’m doing this. Not doing it is not an option.
If you ever want to get good at something, anything, do it every day no matter what. The feeling of accomplishment that you get will be addicting and will give you energy to keep going.
Just be ready to be up at 2:00 am working.