Doing Something Every Day of 2021: COMPLETE


Hellmo (Sesame Street's Elmo rising in front of flames)

Plague year 2 defeated.


The additional strain of pandemic life (and various other ongoing catastrophes), combined with winter introspection at the start of the year, led me to the realization that it is very likely that I have ADHD. Far beyond the pandemic situation, as I investigated and began to connect the dots through various experiences in my life, a great many things lined up and clicked into place and had previously seemed unrelated, or simply confusing.

If nothing else, it has given me a useful lens through which to understand how I feel the way I feel, and why so many other people seem to behave in ways unintuitive to me, in a wide variety of situations.

Doing Things

The first few months of 2021 were rough mentally. As COVID-19 vaccination programs started rolling around the globe, the weight of what was likely to be at least another full year of pandemic life began to take its toll. While Japan has thankfully faired much better overall than many countries, we weren’t going to be eligible for vaccines until mid-year at the earliest.

Doing What You Can

Partly to take my mind off of things at the start of the year, I focused quite intensely on a dive into algo-trading. It worked out for the most part, I learned a lot, and met some interesting people online. But I burned out on that after a couple of months, and realised it wasn’t something that I wanted to consume too much of my life.

As spring came around, I drifted without much of a focus. I dabbled with a few game ideas that I’ve had kicking around, but didn’t manage to commit to or engage with anything very much. I tried to make the most of the amazing spring weather in Japan.

Gradually I started putting some work into various art projects and going through tutorials and online courses. I did a bit of drawing, I sculpted a few things in Blender. I tried to keep up my little garden while fighting off the summer mosquitoes.

Ultimately we received our first vaccine doses in August, and second in September. While the anticipation of being vaccinated lifted my spirits, actually being vaccinated was rather anti-climatic. The relief of being less likely to die was certainly real, but it didn’t amount to much of a practical change day to day. It still paid to play it safe for ourselves and others. At least we get to eat out once in a while again.

A non-COVID related health scare dominated the final months of the year, delivering another mental hit, but tests just before the end of the year determined that while I should still be watching out for my health (as everyone should), I didn’t have anything specific to worry about this time.

Doing What You Want

The majority of my energy for the past 15 years has been spent focused on game development, and what I’ve come away with after this year, is that maybe I don’t need to do that any more right now. There are still plenty of game ideas rattling around in my head, but the idea of putting the blinders back on in order to maintain the focus and years it would take to actually build another one isn’t an appealing prospect to me right now.

I only started tracking in November, but I’ve managed to draw about every other day at least since then. I’ve also poked at some writing again recently, as happens once in a while.

In some ways I feel like I’m rewinding my drives and motivations back to the 90s when computers and the internet arrived on the scene, sapping all of the energy away from my other creative pursuits at the time. I was motived to make games to make use of my writing and drawing, but I got the balance wrong. After that, things like employment, mortgages (and fear) kept the pressure on to keep doing the things I was already best at, at the expense of other things that also motivated me.



I kept up my routine of studying kanji using WaniKani via the Tsurukame app for another year. Usually about 30 minutes first thing in the morning.

Part way through the year I realized I had messed up. By changing the review order away from the default, I ended up skimming through levels quickly, only completing enough to be promoted to the next level, leaving a majority of the kanji in each level locked.

Finally after about 6 months I realized the mistake and reset the review order to “Lowest level first”. By this point I had accumulated a very large review backlog and many kanji left behind which I should have been covering months ago.

While my current level in the app is 27 (out of 60), my “true” level is about 19. Now that my reviews are happening in an order that makes sense, I’m gradually working through clearing the backlog.


Last year I began reading 「若おかみは小学校!」 (The young innkeeper is a grade-school student!), a series of elementary school level novels. Not only did I finish the first book this year, but also finished volumes 2 and 3, each of which took only about 2 months, averaging about 4 pages per day.

My reading speed has increased from 25-30 minutes per page at the beginning of the year, to about 10-20 minutes per page. Pages with lots of dialog which tend to use simpler conversational words speed by, and pages which are mostly prose and setting up scenes with new vocabulary still take a fair bit of work.

I’ve eased off a bit since then, and am back to reading volume 4 at about a page a day in order to save time and energy for other things.

By the numbers:

graph of covid cases per million people in 2021, rolling 7-day average

COVID-19 Cases Per Million People (rolling 7-day average, 2021)

Onward 2022

Here’s what I said last year (and the year before):

I’m particularly feeling the tension between my desire to dedicate this year to learning and improving my skills, as an artist, as a game developer on the one hand, and the internal and external pressure to Be Productive on the other hand, which to me currently means immediately starting on a project with commercial potential.

I want to say that I’ll fight that pressure and focus on learning and improving, as was my intention. But even writing that makes me anxious, so clearly I haven’t convinced myself yet that it’s the right thing to do.

Contemplating this shift away from commercial productivity towards personal growth no longer makes me anxious in the way that it did a year ago, and the tension has largely dwindled away. Maybe there’s hope for this year…


four low poly voltron-like tiger faces

Nightsabers, form Voltron!

stylized cartoon drawing of a japanese cat statue

Novempurr: Guardian