Unicycle #20 - Writing and Health

As a reminder, I’m Alex Grintsvayg and you’re reading Unicycle. I welcome your feedback - hit Reply or message me anonymously. If someone forwarded you this email, subscribe here to follow along.

Happy New Year, dear friends :-)


It’s been over a month since I wrote to you. I took December off to reenergize and reflect on 2020. Last year I did’t do new years resolutions. Instead I picked a broad theme of “writing” and let that nudge my decisions throughout the year. Here are some of the concrete things that came out of that:

  • started the LBRY tech blog and wrote a dozen posts

  • took Write of Passage online writing class

  • three blog posts on my blog (two were part of the course)

  • started this Unicycle and wrote 19 emails

  • got back into Twitter and wrote a bunch of threads (I think of those as mini-posts).

  • read a bunch of books and articles, and took notes on what I read. some of these directly fueled my writing here.

All this was a big success in my book. Not big because I hit any major goals or overcame a towering obstacle. The opposite, in fact. It was the right blend of intentional and gentle. I was never in danger of failing something (except missing my 12pm deadline). I tried a few things, discarded the ones that didn't stick, and stuck with a few that felt good. I focused on what "sparks joy" about writing, what's low-friction, what's fun, what I can fully commit to without reservation. Now I have nothing to regret or shame myself over. And looking back, all the small nudges in the direction of writing made a real change in my identity.

That's not to say that it was all effortless. Sitting down to write is still an struggle. I finish fewer things than I'd like because I'm constantly tweaking them. There's always a worry that you'll think "wow that's dumb, what a waste of time" and unsubscribe, even though I've sent a bunch of these now and no one has and the feedback is all positive (but you totally should unsubscribe if you're thinking about it, link's at the bottom).

The hardest part for me, I discovered, is committing to ideas publicly. Saying "I believe this" is almost always followed by "well, most of the time, but not in these cases, and anyway it all depends on the situation because there are no absolutes, and I might be wrong or change my mind later." Logically, I know it's ok to simplify and I don't need to add these caveats. No one will hold my past writing against me. Yet if I don't include the totality of my precise beliefs, I'm not satisfied. Twitter helps remind me not to worry about perfection. So does remembering that if no one ever tells you you're wrong, you're not learning anything. In fact, the lack of unsubscribers should be telling me to be more opinionated.

Another unexpected benefit is that I have a "footprint" of stuff to look back on for this review. If you asked me what I was thinking about four years ago, I'd be hard-pressed to remember any details. All I recall are some facts: started LBRY, became a dad, played some ultimate. This year I read through my newsletters and notes, which brought back a lot of memories and hints of the thoughts I was chewing on.

My favorite part of Unicycle is connecting with people through my writing. I'm not good at staying in touch when I don't regularly interact with people in real life. With Unicycle, I kind of am talking to all of you each week. When it resonates, I love hearing from you and going deeper, or just knowing I struch a chord.

Thanks 😊


This year will be my Year of Health.

Last year was chaotic, and I lost many of the healthy habits I value. I didn’t play much sports or do anything active. My sleep was off. I didn’t spend much time outside or with friends or in solitude (away from computers and people).

In 2021, I’m looking forward to fixing this. I once again don’t have concrete goals. Instead I’ll set my compass for health and let that guide my day-to-day choices. So far I’ve started with meditating daily, eating less sugar and dairy, and working hard with my daughter to help her sleep through the night (last year’s upheaval affected her too, maybe even more than me).

I’ll also be changing the Unicycle a bit. My promise to write weekly was a core driver of my writing success last year. This year, it’s not a good fit for my health effort (which includes spending less time staring at screens). So it’s with a heavy heart that I’m dropping my commitment to writing every Friday, and also the $200 reward. Since no one claimed it, I’ll donate it to a charity instead.

What are your plans for 2021? Write to me! I want to help you make them happen if I can. At the very least, research shows that telling someone else your goals makes you more likely to follow through 😉