The Finer Points Of Frog Eating

By Alanna Klapp

I wrote an essay called “Logs, Frogs, and Blogs” for the Procrastinating Writers Blog essay contest. To overcome procrastination, I keep a log, eat a frog and write a blog.

This post will go into more detail about the “eat a frog” method.

Last November, a co-worker loaned me Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. I wrote in my essay:

“This book is geared towards business professionals, but I read it as if it were written for writers. The book tells you how to make and prioritize lists. The concept of Eat That Frog is, if the first thing you do is eat a live frog, it’s feasible that’s the worst thing that’ll happen to you all day. The ‘frog’ is the largest, most important task. At the end of the first chapter is an exercise that asks the reader to write a list of 10 goals. Tracy advises to write in the present tense and first person so the subconscious mind accepts the goal right away. I wrote a list of 10, with goal number four inscribed as: ‘I blog.’”

Tracy writes in Chapter 1, “A major reason for procrastination and lack of motivation is vagueness, confusion, and fuzzy-mindedness about what you are supposed to do and in what order and for what reason.”

Have you ever had an idea for a book or an essay or a short story and not followed through because you didn’t have a clear picture of how to go about it? I have.

I started thinking about writing a blog in September, and didn’t begin until December.

I procrastinated until I read Eat That Frog! and discovered the Group Writing Project on Daniel Scocco’s blog, Daily Blog Tips.

The project required the blogger to write a post which reviewed some aspect of 2009. I resolved to be a participant and write my first blog post. I wanted to write about the four interviews I did as a guest host for The Writing Show.

Now I had a deadline, December 9, and I tried the exercise in Chapter 1.

Tracy’s first “great rule for success” is: “Think on paper.” He then goes on to explain his seven step process to make a list of goals and a plan of action.

Note: The italics after some of the steps is my written response for my goal, “I blog.”

1) “Decide exactly what you want.” I want to blog and participate in the Group Writing Project.

2) “Write it down.” Blog up and running to participate in Group Writing Project.)
3) “Set a deadline on your goal.” Deadline: 12/9/09

4) “Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.” At this point, don’t order your list (your frogs), instead brainstorm all the tasks that come to mind that need to be completed to reach the goal. Here’s my list:

  • Send post to Daniel at Daily Blog Tips
  • Insert into post podcast and author Web site links
  • Title of blog post
  • Write first draft
  • Edit post- content, spelling, grammar
  • Read notes from Liz Adair’s (blogging) class
  • Market my blog
  • Set up blog with Blogger
  • Publish post
  • Check links to make sure they work
  • Follow blogs

5) “Organize the list into a plan” Here’s my list organized into a plan.

  • Read notes from Liz Adair’s class
  • Set up blog with Blogger
  • Write first draft
  • Title of blog post
  • Edit post- content, spelling, grammar
  • Insert into post podcast and author Web site links
  • Publish post
  • Check links to make sure they work
  • Send post to Daniel at Daily Blog Tips
  • Follow blogs
  • Market my blog (this task ended up becoming a new list)

If you’re not a list kind of person, you can lay out your plan visually, as Tracy suggests, “in the form of a series of boxes and circles on a sheet of paper.”

6) “Take action on your plan immediately.” The first thing I did was pull out the notes from the blogging class I took and decided on a word count of 400 to 600 words. I’d also written in my notes: “Set it up yourself. Go to www.blogger.com and follow directions,” so I did. This took me about an hour.

7) “Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal.” I followed my ordered list (from December 7 to December 9) until I completed it.

Here is the exercise so you can try it with one of your writing projects (and I recommend reading the entire book for more frog-eating tips).

“Take a clean sheet of paper right now and make a list of ten goals you want to accomplish in the next year. Write your goals as though a year has already passed and they are now a reality. Use the present tense, positive, and first person so that they are immediately accepted by your subconscious mind. For example, you would write. ‘I earn X number of dollars per year’ or ‘I weigh X number of pounds’ or ‘I drive such and such a car.’ Then, go back over your list of ten goals and select the one goal that, if you achieved it, would have the greatest positive impact on your life. Whatever that goal is, write it on a separate sheet of paper, set a deadline, make a plan, take action on your plan, and then do something every single day that moves you toward that goal. This exercise alone could change your life!”

Everyone has their own unique writing process and, therefore, their own frogs.

One thing I still struggle with is how to know which task is my frog. For me, that’s often the first.

Once I eat the frog and just get started, the subsequent frogs are smaller, taste better, and go down easier. I’ve also learned the frog is usually the thing I want to do the least. It fills me with the most dread and resistance when I look at it. My stomach tightens, and I know that’s the thing I need to do, right now.

If you try this exercise, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

About the Author: Alanna Klapp is a writer and guest host for The Writing Show, a podcast that provides information and inspiration for writers. She placed second in the Lea Leever Oldham essay contest in 2005. She blogs at Wandering the Mind of Alanna Klapp and contributes to the Cleveland Browns blog Bitter Orange & Brown.


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