Skip to main content


I know I blogged about this on my Writing Diary Blog , but I don’t think I blogged about this here. I read a few writing and productivity books, and I’ve been trying to form better daily habits.

The problem is that my self-discipline is very bad. As in, embarrassingly bad.

One of my goals has been to form a better writing habit. Since I’m a full-time writer, I already write every day, but I think there are things I can do to tweak my schedule so that I can be able to focus better when I write.

I tend to get distracted by the thought of things I need to do that day which I haven’t done yet. I don’t know why my brain is like this, but I haven’t been able to break this tendency.

So for example, while I’m writing, I’ll suddenly think about the fact that today’s the day when I need to change the bathroom towels, or mop the kitchen floor, or change the bedsheets. It’ll distract me for a few moments before I tell myself I’ll do it later and I need to focus on writing now. Then a few minutes later, the thought will pop up again.

I’ve found that the way to combat this is to just get that stuff done before I start writing. It eases some type of weird tension in me that there’s something I need to do (I wonder if I have slight OCD tendencies?).

So even though chores are low urgency and medium importance, I’ve been doing them before writing just so that I can better focus when I get to work.

In the book, 5,000 Words Per Hour, the author talks about something called “clearing the decks,” where you do what you can to get stuff out of the way so that you can write without distractions. So for me, doing chores is part of my “clearing the decks” requirement.

I also have a goal of learning the Japanese language. I took it in high school (most of which I’ve forgotten) and I took a year in college (almost ALL of which I’ve forgotten). So I’ve been doing self-study for several years, but I tend to do it in spurts, and then let it lapse for weeks or months in between. My last lapse was last year, when my IBS got bad.

I’ve been trying to become consistent in my Japanese study every day. I learned about flashcard apps on your phone or computer that utilize SRS (Spaced Repetition Software), which enables you to review flashcards during optimal intervals so that you remember them better. And in order to ensure SRS works best, you have to review your flashcards every day. The software will determine which cards you need to review each particular day.

I read the book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, which (to summarize) states that every day, you should do the most difficult tasks first, in order to get them done. Well, I definitely wanted to develop a consistent Japanese study habit, so I started making it a priority to do it first, before my writing. I found that if I put off my Japanese with the intent to do it later in the day, it almost never got done because I’d usually feel too tired.

I’ve been doing my Japanese very consistently now for two months. I think I missed only 3 days, when I was too sick to do it.

So I’ve been combining the concept of “clearing the decks” into a daily “frog” routine that I do before writing. I categorize as “frogs” anything I need to do first, before writing, in order to ensure that it will get done. 

My chores was mostly in order to prevent distraction while writing, but it did fall under a “frog” category because often if I pushed my chores out to later in the day, it wouldn’t get done if I felt too tired. My Japanese study was definitely a “frog” because it absolutely wouldn’t get done if I left it for later in the day.

Another “frog” ended up being my daily Bible reading, which was another item that was important, but not urgent. Often I simply forgot to do it later in the day, or I’d only remember just before bed when I was really tired. So I shunted it into my “frog-clearing” routine before I started my writing work, to make sure I got it done.

It seems kind of irreverent to call my daily Bible reading a “frog.” But I’ve been able to be much more consistent with it for the past several months, since I started doing it before my writing. It’s usually what I do right before I start writing.

A fourth “frog” was my exercise. I did sometimes skip my exercise if my IBS was really bad, but in general I’ve been trying to do my daily exercise as the first thing (or almost first thing) after I wake up, and before writing. Since I’m sitting for hours at a time, I really need to keep my body moving so that I don’t develop more (or worse) problems than I already have.

I discovered that waiting even an hour after I wake up sometimes killed any motivation I had to exercise (and I’m really, really good at coming up with excuses not to exercise). So I’ve been trying to do it literally within 30 minutes after I get out of bed. I don’t know why I need to do it absolutely first thing in the morning, but I figured I should just try to accommodate the strange way my willpower (or lack of it) works.

So right now, I have four “frogs” I do every day before I start writing: house chores, exercise, Japanese study, and Bible reading. Unfortunately that usually means I don’t start writing until 5 or 6 hours after I wake up, which seems kind of late to start work. But the tradeoff is more consistency with things that are important to me, which I need to make sure I do on a daily basis.

I’m not sure why I blogged about this. Maybe to prove to myself that this method really does work, since I’ve been consistent for at least two months (in the case of my Japanese study) and longer (in the case of my daily Bible reading).

I hope this helps one of you, especially if you’re thinking about doing something like learning a foreign language or forming a daily writing habit. I fully admit that getting up a little earlier SUCKS, but there’s an intense satisfaction when you’ve done something important consistently for a few days.


Oh, I totally understand this. I also love the word "frogs" because I also picture my self hopping from one thing to the next before sitting down to do the main thing. For me that would be reading or anything related to helping authors promote their books.
So first, I do my Bible reading, then I eat breakfast and make myself presentable, do my chores around the house, and only then can I get a cup of coffee and sit down in front of my computer.
The one thing I need to factor in that schedule is exercising. I hate it, but I guess I need to find the time. UGH! Thanks for posting this blog!
Have fun writing!
Camy Tang said…
Sounds like your schedule is just like mine!

Popular Posts

Interview with Tamara Leigh

Captain's Log, Stardate 03.13.2006 Multi-published Tamara Leigh has shifted from Medieval romances to chick-lit! Her newest book is STEALING ADDA published by NavPress. It had been a long time since New York Times best-selling author -- and historical romance writer extraordinaire -- Adda Sinclaire had experienced more than a fictional dose of romance, but when publisher Nick Farnsworth walks into her life, everything changes. Life for Adda ironically reads more like a country song than a bodice-bursting, breathless affair. For starters, she has no actual romance in her life. That might have something to do with the fact that her husband -- correction-EX husband -- ran off with Stick Woman, whom everyone knew would never be more than a mid-list author anyway. To add insult to injury (and another verse to the country song), he not only took their dog but gave it to her. If this isn't enough, Adda's come down with a horrible case of writer's block and finds h


Source: via Camy on Pinterest In-N-Out, one of my fav burger joints, makes an appearance in the first chapter of A Dangerous Stage . It's a chain on the West Coast and Hawaii, I'm not sure how far east they have restaurants. They don't freeze any of their food, it's all fresh, including the buns and the french fries. When you order, you can see them use this french fry hand-crank machine to make their fries, it's pretty cool. The specific restaurant in A Dangerous Stage doesn't exist at that location, but there's a couple of them near me and I go there way too often than is good for me, but it's oh-so-yummy!

99c Squeaky Clean Christmas Romance sale

I’m participating in the 99c Squeaky Clean Christmas Romance sale. Check out all the sweet/clean romance books available and stuff your eBook reader! 99c Squeaky Clean Christmas Romance

Last chance! Jane Austen sweepstakes

Last chance! Win a Library of 30 Historical Romance Novels + Jane Austen Swag Worth $250! This is a delightful surprise I've been eager to share! Join me and 30 extraordinary authors in an enchanting giveaway where we're gifting a vast array of historical romance novels to two fortunate winners! And the cherry on top: The Grand Prize winner will be treated to an exclusive Jane Austen swag pack, worth an impressive $250! You'll get the chance to win a copy of my book, Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer, as well as novels from renowned authors like Laura Beers and Kasey Stockton. (Please be aware that not all the historical novels in this giveaway are Christian or sweet.) To enter, simply click the magical link below. Wishing you the best of luck and a journey filled with delightful reads! Join Our Giveaway

Sweet & Clean Christmas Romance sale

I’m participating in the Sweet & Clean Christmas Romance sale. Check out all the sweet/clean romance books available and stuff your eBook reader! Sweet & Clean Christmas Romance

Clean Romance Deals

I’m participating in the Clean Romance Deals sale. Check out all the sweet/clean romance books available and stuff your eBook reader! Clean Romance Deals

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduc

Grace Livingston Hill romances free to read online

I wanted to update my old post on Grace Livingston Hill romances because now there are tons more options for you to be able to read her books for free online! I’m a huge Grace Livingston Hill fan. Granted, not all her books resonate with me, but there are a few that I absolutely love, like The Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses . And the best part is that she wrote over 100 books and I haven’t yet read them all! When I have time, I like to dive into a new GLH novel. I like the fact that most of them are romances, and I especially appreciate that they all have strong Christian themes. Occasionally the Christian content is a little heavy-handed for my taste, but it’s so interesting to see what the Christian faith was like in the early part of the 20th century. These books are often Cinderella-type stories or A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) type stories, which I love. And the best part is that they’re all set in the early 1900s, so the time period is absolutely fasci

Tabi socks, part deux

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.25.2008 (If you're on Ravelry, friend me! I'm camytang.) I made tabi socks again! (At the bottom of the pattern is the calculation for the toe split if you're not using the same weight yarn that I did for this pattern (fingering). I also give an example from when I used worsted weight yarn with this pattern.) I used Opal yarn, Petticoat colorway. It’s a finer yarn than my last pair of tabi socks, so I altered the pattern a bit. Okay, so here’s my first foray into giving a knitting pattern. Camy’s top-down Tabi Socks I’m assuming you already know the basics of knitting socks. If you’re a beginner, here are some great tutorials: Socks 101 How to Knit Socks The Sock Knitter’s Companion A video of turning the heel Sock Knitting Tips Yarn: I have used both fingering weight and worsted weight yarn with this pattern. You just change the number of cast on stitches according to your gauge and the circumference of your ankle. Th