Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers Part 1

Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is something I listen to over and over again. I believe we all want to be highly effective writers so I'm going to translate his principles into writer-eaze.

Highly: in or to a high degree; extremely.
Effectual: producing or capable of producing an intended effect.

Habit One: Be Proactive.

The underlying principle of this habit is to take individual responsibility for our life and choices.

Your life is a product of your values not your feelings. 

Being proactive means you take the initiative to do whatever is necessary to make good things happen.

In your writing life you:

  •  Are prepared for opportunity.
  •  Put yourself in situations where success can happen.
  •  Do your homework (due diligence in all situations).
  •  Study craft.
  •  Make time to write.
  •  Keep your eye on the prize.
  •  Evaluate ROI (return on investment) before committing to anything.

The opposite of a proactive writer’s life is a reactive writer’s life. Your life is a function of your feelings, your moods, your impulses or how other people treat you.

In your writing life you:

  •  Write when you feel like it.
  •  Validate your success by reviews, and awards.
  •  Take out your frustration on Facebook, or other social media.
  •  Allow your emotions to guide your career.
  •  Fail to take responsibility for your career with a victim mentality.
  •  Miss deadlines-self-imposed or contractual.

HABIT 1 is the habit of awareness.

 “I am a separate being from my feelings and moods and even my genetic makeup.”-Stephen Covey

Wow. Say that five times. YOU DO NOT = YOUR EMOTIONS


The underlying message of Habit 1 is to take responsibility.

Let’s talk about action and reaction, stimulus and response on a more personal level.

“If we are proactive in the ordinary things of daily writing life, we develop extraordinary ability to handle major setbacks and disappointments. We learn that we have the power to choose our attitude. We have the power to choose our response in any given set of circumstances that we have no control over.” (Stephen Covey Paraphrased)

Viktor Frankl who lived through the horrors of German concentration camps shared this in his book, Man's Search for Meaning. "...everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Frankl discovered that the survivor attitude, instead of the victim mentality was based on a deep belief that there was still a contribution to be made.  A calling! So, giving up was not an option. Don't you have a calling too?

The bible stories of Abraham, David, Gideon and Peter illustrate the lives of men who initially didn't see the calling on their lives. They also demonstrate the power of 'calling things as not as though they are' which is what visualization is, and of truly stepping out in the vision of who you are meant to be.

Romans 4:17 New International Version (NIV)

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations. He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not."

When you choose your response you stop being a victim. Victim mentality says why are they doing this to me?  Why is this happening to me, when you are rejected, or have a bad review, a bad contest experience etc.

Instead, in any given situation try asking yourself, what is this situation asking of me, instead of what am I asking of it.

Trying choosing a response instead of reacting. When you do this you take control of your options and your world. You pick your response which then works like a domino to affect the next stimulus in your world.


My own personal addition to Habit 1: Be Proactive, is to include visualization. This is a chosen mental response.

If writing is your calling then start living the vision.  

It doesn’t matter how many rejections you receive. It only takes one yes to get an agent, to sell a book, to win a contest. Every single time you get a no, be mentally proactive and visualize that one YES.

  • Visualize “the call”- moment when an editor or agent tells you yes. Feel the excitement bubbling from deep inside you, until it pours out of your mouth as you babble a completely ridiculous response. See your glance moving to the clock which has now stopped as you record the time for posterity.

  • Do your mental scenes show you on the New York Times list? Can you see your agent calling you with that almost hysterical excitement as she shares the news? Now you are dancing around the room in sheer joy!

  • Do you see yourself sitting in the audience at the RWA National Conference nervously smoothing your dress with your moist palms, as your name is called. How are you going to walk all the way up those stairs to accept your RITA?

  • What about that second book? Can you reach out and touch the ink drying on the contract or are you playing the same response of rejection, over and over in your head?

If today you at very least examine your stimulus and response to the world around you and your writing career, you have made a proactive step towards a positive change.

Are you proactive or reactive. Can you visualize a stimulus and response in your writing career? 

What are your problem areas? Share them and let us support you.


I am in and out today, as I have to work the day job. But let’s keep the party going with bagels and cream cheese.

There is also a Seeker Holiday book of choice prize up for grabs for a commenter and a Kindle copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People!


Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.


  1. Great post TINA. I need to send it to myself to read and reread and study and do! Thanks.

  2. Marianne, you are one of the go gettingest people I know. I could take a lesson from YOU and your mom.

  3. Wow, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. :) :(

    You must be looking over my shoulder. Thanks for the topic.

    I hope this is an opportunity I'm looking at, and that I'm positioning myself for success. I've been doing my homework and evaluating the ROI.

    Right now I'm getting ready to attempt formatting my first indie.

    Coffee's ready.

  4. WOOT!! Helen! Way to be



  5. I agree, such a great post. I know I can be more proactive.

  6. So great to think of this in terms of being a writer! Thanks!

  7. Terrific post Tina. I will have to come back later, when I have more time, and digest it a little more.

    I am currently working on taming my reaction to things in general. Where I work things happen every day causing 'reactions' within all of us. I'm working on making those reactions positive, or no reaction when possible. I am doing a lot better than I was earlier in the year. I attribute that to 'practice' and our loving God who has helped me through some rough spots.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  8. Helen, I love the proactive you!!!!

    Tina, I believe in all of this... and I try to live it every day.

    What a perfect list and examples of how to treat our writing as a job... and a profession!

    Love it!

  9. Marianne, I agree with Tina!!!! You're a crazy go-getter!

    So go-get-'em!!!!

  10. What an awesome post. This is definitely a keeper I'll refer back to. Tina, thanks for the encouraging words.

    I'm so thankful for you and all the wonderful people at Seekerville. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Tina.... Eggnog season.

    This is clutch.

  12. Tina, thanks for reminding me of two good books that are in my bookshelves.

    I've read Steven Covey's book many times. I read the amazing Viktor Frankl book, too, but it hurts. He was something else.

    Thank you for a very good post.:-)

  13. Great post! I love "If writing is your calling, then start living the vision." Can't wait for Part 2.

  14. Helen, have you looked at Joel Friedlander's formatting templates? They're very good. He has a step by step video that's a big help, too. Good luck!

  15. Such wonderful wisdom Tina! Thank you! And yay for Helen!!! Looking forward to that release!

  16. Terrific post, Tina!

    Writer's need to remember, in this industry there are many times you need to regroup and refocus your writing goals. Because many things that happen are beyond the writers control.

  17. Great timing.

    I received a rejection earlier this week! I don't know if it's because of the holidays or how busy I am, but I haven't been that down about it. I figure it will hit next week when everyone is back to school.

    I've already got more plans in the works and can't wait to get started.

    Thanks for the awesome post, Tina.

  18. Morning Tina, All great points. Thanks for sharing these with us today. We always need to be reminded of how we can achieve success.

    Have a great day.

  19. Hi Tina,
    A great post with more insight into living life for all of us.

    That Frankl quote is haunting given his circumstances, "...the last of the human freedoms, choose one's attitude.."

    I'm convicted about my own attitude. I'm going to be more RESPONSIBLE, more RESONSE>ABLE.

    Thank you for the "attitude slap" and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  20. Good morning ladies. A nod and a smile to Mary Preston.

    Vonni! Welcome to Seekerville. Have we met? I'm Tina. Tell me about you.

  21. CindyW. Good morning. I agree, this is for sure not a read and go post.

    You do have to mull it a bit.

    I'm working on Habit 1 too. Have been for ten years.

    Slow learner.

  22. Thank you, Ruthy and Jackie Layton.

    Okay, eggnog in place. Toasting you all with it.

  23. God bless you, Mary Hicks for getting thru, Man's Search for Meaning.

    It does hurt.

  24. Thanks LeAnne and Piper.

    And happy almost turkey day to you both.

  25. Rose, you are always my example when it comes to being prepared for opportunity.

    I OFTEN think about your post you did in Seekerville on that topic.

    You will find your next opportunity soon. I am confident of that.

  26. GO CONNIE!


    I am proud of you. That rejection is a badge of honor.


  27. Really insightful blog, Tina! Thank you.

  28. I know, Tracey, right?

    We can't deal with coworkers, get over the stink of a rejection.

    This man was tortured in concentration camps.

    We have no clue what human indignity is.

  29. Good morning to Cara Mia and Sandra!@

    Happy pre turkey day.

    I am thankful for you!

  30. Raise your hand if you are baking today!

  31. I baked for the last two days and will be doing more today.

    My husband smokes briskets and turkeys for the guys at work and I make all the desserts and rolls for him.

    Now I need to do my baking for tomorrow. We have a 10k in the morning before Thanksgiving lunch w/my family.

    Love this time of year.

  32. I had a feeling this was a Tina post! Great one! I'm feeling inspired, and determined to be more proactive.

  33. Helen, good luck with the formatting! And be sure to ask for help if you need it. My friend Lindi needed a good bit of help (not from me! I'm clueless) the first time. :)

  34. Connie, I'm sorry about the R. But good for you for the great attitude!

  35. Connie Queen, you are baking AND running a 10K?????? Are you kidding me????

  36. Thank you, Missy.

    There is a book on formatting by a local author.

    Morgan Kearns. Formatting Basics for the Independent Author. Available on Amazon.

  37. Tina - excellent reminders from someone who walks the walk! You keep us all inspired.

  38. Awe, Sherri! My sense of humor friend! You as well. Happy Thanksgiving!

  39. I am seriously on my SECOND French Press of Coffee.

    I need a kick in the pants to move today.

    Bagels. MUST HAVE BAGELS!!

  40. Hi Tina,
    As always, you break it down and tell it like it is. Thanks for a great pre-Thanksgiving post!

    One of the first things I do every day is go to the computer and open my WIP. That requires I turn on the computer, open the program and find the exact place where I will start. I read a paragraph and then go about with my chores so that when I come back I've been peculating on what I'll write next. My normal writing hours have drastically changed recently from 1-5pm to twice daily 1-3 and 11-2, but it's so convenient to be able to sit and write without being stalled by the mechanics.

  41. Hi Tina:

    This is wonderful advice!

    I’m really in to making positive affirmations.

    It’s going to be a great new year watching you roll out each of the next 6 posts in the series. I’ve already created a section in my Scrivener Writing Recourse Project for all 7 posts. I just entered this entire post, complete with pictures and live links, in Scrivener.

    My thought is this:

    If you apply these habits to your life, won’t they carry over to your writing as well? Can you really just apply them to your writing alone? Would you want to?

    I think I am going to apply them to my life and let them filter down to my writing. (Think of it as 'Whole Person' improvement.)

    “The best way to predict your future is to create it.
    The best way to create your future is to visualize it.
    The best way to visualize your future is to plot it.”

    “Wisdom that Knows Where it is Going.”

    NaNo: 5 days left
    71,609 words
    100% Pantsered
    Probably 5,000 words to go. (It's pantsered, who knows?)
    Family women busy getting Thanksgiving meal ready. I’m busy on my writing. Life is good. : )

    Wives were really worth the rib.
    Bless you all!

  42. Oh, Vince, YOU are my affirmation for today. Thank you.

    GO NANAO!!!!

  43. Amen, Lyndee!!!

    The time is NOW.

    Proud of you for opening that puter!

    I never ever turn mine off. Is that good or bad? Hmmmmmm.

  44. Great post, Tina! I plan to read it again...after more coffee!!
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

  45. WOW, TINA ... this could be a a motivational sermon with all the spiritual threads woven in, and that was even before I got to the Scripture!! LOVED (and needed!!) every single word, but here's just a few of the points that jumped out at me:

    1.) The following fabulous quote: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

    WOW. WOW. WOW!!! And to know this came from the mouth of someone who experienced the atrocities of a German concentration camp makes it ALL the more powerful!!

    2.) You (and Steve) said: Evaluate ROI (return on investment) before committing to anything.

    This is something, believe it or not, that I have JUST learned this week. Mind you, I knew it in my head and even in my heart a wee bit, but it wasn't till God TRULY opened my eyes that this truth became a reality embedded, not only in my brain and heart, but in my gut too.

    In the past, I prayed about things, yes, but my bent was to do them to please other people and be a nice gal, which is okay if your motivation is correct (i.e. to please God instead of people). But when this behavior started taking my emotional, spiritual, and physical health for a tumble, I knew -- really and truly knew, bone-deep -- it was time for a change. Consequently, I have quit most emails, interviews, endorsements, reviews, and Amazon scouring, and guess what? Writing almost 2,000 or MORE words per day and sooooooooooo much happier!!

    3.) You said: "It doesn’t matter how many rejections you receive. It only takes one yes to get an agent, to sell a book, to win a contest. Every single time you get a no, be mentally proactive and visualize that one YES."

    Soooooo true!! After 24 NOs out of 25 queries sent to agents, it only took one to hook me up with THE BEST agent ever!! And after 46 NOs on A Passion Most Pure, it only took one YES to make my dream of being published a reality.

    Thanks SO much for this truly inspiring blog today, but mostly thank you for being a truly inspiring friend.

    Love you!!

  46. TINA, this is profoundly good stuff. We need not to feel sorry for ourselves (and ESPECIALLY not to vent on Facebook. We wouldn't do it about our day jobs, at least I hope not, and we shouldn't do it about this.) I've been a fan of Covey's for years and read Seven Habits well, seven times. I think his lessons, and yours, can be applied to the broader spectrum of our Christian lives: We really don't know why things happen or don't happen. Really.
    I'm off today, will check in again later.
    Kaybee, whose next proactive thing to do will be to change profile picture.

  47. HELEN is right. You have a good attitude, Helen. I think we have to remember especially, when a line goes down or an editor moves, it's Not Our Fault. It is what it is and it doesn't mean we aren't any good or that God doesn't want us doing this. It Is What It Is. I hate that "is what it is" stuff, but you can't argue with it. It is... oh, never mind.

  48. I always worry that the "visualization" is pushing myself forward. Hey, what can you expect, I've got childhood Catholic guilt, adult Protestant guilt and I was raised in the 50s by immigrant parents, the only thing that's missing is I wasn't in the Midwest, but small-town New England isn't much different. So it's okay to visualize success? I have been afraid to because I didn't want to get my hopes up. Sheesh. Thanks, Tina and Stephen Covey.

  49. Tina, bless you for this inspiring post! Definitely a keeper I will use as a benchmark for my life.

    It reminded me of how we are to craft our heroes and heroines. They are to be proactive, not victims and neither are the authors who create them.


  50. VINCE,
    BEST QUOTE of the day, hope all husbands feel this way, thanks for making me smile, I needed that!

  51. Yes, us mature dogs can still learn new tricks, Jules!!

  52. Kaybee! Get your hopes up right now! WAYYYYY Up!!!!

  53. Amen, Janet! We are the heroes of our own story!! Well said!!

  54. I was bummed this morning. I really need to learn to go to Seekerville BEFORE any other social media. I went on Facebook and learned that an acquaintance had like 1,000 followers on a blog, from not really trying. Social media is tough for me (except of course for here) and I was mildly upset. But God has a plan for me, with whatever Social Media he chooses.
    Tina, I AM going to visualize, in baby steps. The first one will be The Call.
    Gone but not forgotten because I'll be back in a few

  55. The good news is that I'm well on track for my NANO project, rewriting an older book with What I Know Now.

  56. I keep telling Vince we wives need a wife!!!!

  57. Hi Tina

    As I was reading your powerful post I was knocked flat by the Romans 4:17 verse. "the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not."

    There is no greater proof (other than the ability to love) that we were made in the image of God than to create...bring into being things that were not.

    I'm doing my first Nano and only 4K away from 50K. I was finishing up or getting started on 3 books. Because I chose to do this, these characters and their stories exist. If I choose to edit and publish them, they will live...forever.

    Such a profound truth. I'll be pondering that for a long time.

    Wishing everyone at Seekerville a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving.

  58. I'm totally in agreement with needing a wife. Such an unfairity!!!!

    Kaybee, oy, avoid, avoid, avoid anything that pulls you down. It's not worth it, darling girl, I mean that so sincerely.


    Youse know what I mean, those blood-sucker types that want to soak the joy right out of you!!! Nay, I say!

    Be gone with you, negatorians! Go away!

    There's a REASON the gospels are called the "Good News" peeps! Grab hold, grin and rejoice therein!

  59. I did not even have to look for the blogger's name to KNOW this came from TINA!!! You are the savviest, go-getting-est girl I know.

    Just. WOW.

  60. Hi Tina:

    If you do get a wife, it will probably be her who wants to be the writer!

  61. "Wives were really worth the rib."

    Seriously, VINCE???

    That kind of talk is dangerous around here!!!!

  62. LYNDEE, you are right. IF I sit down to do it, I, well, do it.
    Kathy Bailey
    In NH Where It Is Snowing

  63. Hi Ruth:

    Positive and negative attract!

    Here’s something I’ve done for over 50 years that I have found very effective. Every time I meet someone, I try to leave them with a positive charge. There is always something you can honestly compliment someone on that will make them feel better about themselves. Always. The “One Minute Manager” is actually premised on this idea.

    This does require being very observant and thinking from the POV of the other person. You need the self-confidence to believe that building someone else up and making someone else feel better, also will do the same for you.

    Negative people seek commiseration not appreciation. Nothing annoys them more than a positive happy person. Give them a positive charge often and they will soon be crossing the street to avoid you!

    NaNo 73,476 and just started Chapter 16 -- which should be the last 5,000 word chapter – if my characters allow.

    My hero just told me that he wants to do a version of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy for an Epilogue to sum up his feelings about going from being a fictional character to a real person. I don’t know if I should let him. He said it would be really, really clever. He said that in a past life he was one of Shakespeare’s characters. (Now how am I, as an author, supposed to verify that?)

    I’m taking a break and afraid to start the last chapter. Maybe my wife needs something at Wal-Mart. I can at least go buy some things that they still might need. We also have to have a special Wednesday night family dinner. Do you all do that? Isn't Thanksgiving dinner enough work?

  64. Tina,
    You are great as a motivator.

    At this stage in my life, living on disability and not able to work, I find that writing is something that keeps me going. It does mean that there are sometimes days or weeks at a time when I am not able to write because of my health, but I still work at it. I am concerned that if I ever get a book that is ready to be published that I will not be able to keep up with a contract because I never know when the vertigo will be at its worst or how long. But I am seriously considering self publishing when the time comes. Even though I face the difficult physical challenges I refuse to give up.

    I am so thankful for all of you. You are an encouragement to me.

    I have been feeling like a failure since I was not able to write this month due to being sick. I hope to get back to working on it soon and there is always speedbo come March.

    Happy Thanksgiving every one!

  65. We used to do family devotionals when I was a teenager from Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. It's cool to see you apply principles of success to writing! Please include me in the drawing!

  66. TINA, I have had computers fail rather quickly and I blame it on leaving them running 24/7. That's my personal opinion, no proof! And here we call it a puker as in puke with an 'r' because that's what my niece called computers when she was a tot. And that nickname is very appropriate on the days when the thing quits or refuses to cooperate. Because it's always the machine's fault! HA!

    KAYBEE,Get your booties on and your hot chocolate ready! I'm in Chicago, but I'm with you in that snowy mix! God has a plan for us. Let's be open to that plan together, in the snow, sipping our hot chocolate and working on that WIP!

    MYRA, I knew this was Tina's work before I read the name, too. Tina has a voice and she uses it!

    Happy Thanksgiving all.

  67. Thanks for this post. I really need to read this. Right now I would have to say I am more reactive than proactive. Thanks for the encouragement that this can change. Please enter me into the drawing for the prizes!

  68. my mom told me i was always the emotional child, the one who would always think her feelings and believe that as reality. consequently, most of my life she has repeatedly told me to NOT think my feelings - that reality is always something completely different and usually better than what I was feeling.

    that is pretty much what today's post reminded me. i get to CHOOSE my actions no matter what I FEEL.

    Good stuff and just the kick in the ol' keister that gets me encouraged to be RESPONSE>able.

    And many blessings of Thanksgiving to all the Seekerville community.

  69. YES, DebH.

    You have a smart momma.

    Our world view is quite narrow, which is a good thing.

  70. I have a voice and I know how to use it. Love it.

  71. You are welcome and happy Thanksgiving, Sandy Smith.

  72. Great post, Tina. We can always count on you for motivation and good butt kicking when needed. LOL!

    Learning to consider the ROI is a challenge to me. I get sidetracked before I realize it. Definitely not a good trait for the High Effective Writer!


    I'm going to drop those blinders in place and focus, focus, focus.

    Thanks, T!

  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

  74. Very motivating, Ms Tina!

    My problem area lately is indecision. I think I have a handle on it for the most part. Please enter me.

    Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

  75. " ... We learn that we have the power to choose our attitude.” (Stephen Covey Paraphrased)

    Terrific post, Tina! The quote above reminds me of one attributed to Martha Washington: "I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances."

    After much thought, I've decided I'm more proactive than reactive in my writing. Proactive (researching the business details, ROI, etc) is what's convinced me to go indie.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Nancy C

  76. Indecision. Well that beats jumping in with both feet before weighting the potential risks.

  77. ROI. ROI.

    Make it your mantra, Audra.

  78. Janet Dean said...
    It reminded me of how we are to craft our heroes and heroines. They are to be proactive, not victims and neither are the authors who create them.

    Super thought to share, Janet. Thanks!

    Nancy C

  79. Tina, Thank you so much for this post. This really spoke to me today. I don't know how you do such a good job making your blog seem like you're actually right there talking to each of us as individuals, but you did so. So a huge thank you.

    So thanks for the pep talk so I can feel good about visualizing the eventual call.

    Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for the reminder to concentrate on task at hand, learn from the best (craft), and keep writing!

  80. Thank you, Tina - - a KEEPER POST for sure. I needed this - - and will re-read after Thanksgiving (when things are a *bit* calmer, LOL) and I can allow it to sink in even more. ;)
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!!
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

  81. Tanya, I've read your work. Visualize a lot, dear.

    It is coming!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  82. Great insight, Tina!

    Love Covey.

    Being proactive is so is visualizing success. Feeling it. Believing it!

    Sorry I'm late. Family is here. Spent today getting ready for tomorrow...and enjoying each moment today.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  83. Enjoy the fam, Deb. THEY COME FIRST.

    Then comes Patti's Jo's Cafe and Bakery pies! XX Patti Jo!

  84. Off the and LOVED Ruthy's book Her Holiday Family. I posted a review on Amazon and want her to know it. Sent E mails to several addys, but none went through to her!!!!
    I post as J.Smith.

  85. Jackie, thank you!!!! I'll check to see why the e-mails aren't coming through, but if you use the loganherne (at) gmail (dot) com, I always get it. Something must be messed up in the website forwarding e-mail... I'll check it out. I got an e-mail from the website TELLING me it wasn't going to deliver your e-mail... How weird is that???? It found me to tell me it wasn't going to deliver.... but wouldn't deliver!

    OY!!!! Happy Thanksgiving, dear one! Was yours the first review of Max and Tina's Excellent Adventure???????


  86. Vince.... I agree!!!!

    "Peace begins with a smile..." Mother Teresa.

    Love her.

  87. Oh, I just called Jackie, Sandy.

    So sorry, Jackie.

    We have an abundance of Smith's around here.

    Sandy, Jackie, Sandra Leesmith, Jennifer Smith.

    Love the Smith family.

  88. Don't forget to stop by Yankee Belle Cafe. Link at the top of this blog.

    Lattes and chips with pico/salsa for your dining pleasure.

  89. Please enter me in the contest for the Seeker Holiday book. A latte sounds good.

  90. I think I'm going to have to come back and read this post a few times to get it all!

  91. nice article...

    Obat Bius | Obat Bius Wanita | Jual Obat Bius

    thank you for the information regards success only father / mother