Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers: Part 2

Last November I shared Habit 1 of The 7 Habit of Highly Effective Writers,based on Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

To review: (you can read that post in its entirety here)

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.

Habit Two: Begin with the End in Mind.

Covey wasn't referring to pantsers and plotters. 

"If habit one says you are the programmer (you get to choose if you will act or react), then habit two says write the program (the program for your life)."- Steven R. Covey. 

  • Don't live somebody else's writer life.  
  •  Don't measure yourself by someone else's yardstick.
  •  Don't find yourself chasing someone else's vision.

This habit is based on writing the program for your writer life according to your value system, your mission statement. The opposite would be to have no mission statement, thus allowing life to happen with no objective in mind.

What is your life as a writer about? Make sure that what you think you want...what you think you are about, is really what you want and what you value.

Every single decision and goal and plan should be influenced by your mission statement, your personal philosophy, or creed, and that is determined by what is important to you.

Yes, you can say that God is your vision, your mission  and value system, but we all have different missions and gifts from God. Sorry, but you'll have to dig deeper. 

Mission statements according to Covey are not created, they are uncovered. Subconsciously at first and consciously later as we mature as writers and uncover our mission statement, our books will reflect that mission statement.  It will provide a continuing sense of guidance in our writing life.

Let me share some very vivid examples.

Writer Julie Cantrell won the Carol Award last year (When Mountains Move) and her speech profoundly touched me and was in fact, her mission statement. You can hear what she says here at the Live Video of the awards at 58:17. 

Julie Lessman is another very vivid example. A Passion Most Pure is Julie's Mission Statement. She believes it, she lives it and she writes it.  From her webpage:
 Hello ... I’m Julie Lessman, an Inspirational Romance author with a passion for God and a passion for romance. As an adult, I quickly learned that true romance is spiritual as well as physical and emotional. And one pass through the “Song of Solomon” in the Bible told me that God was the biggest romantic of them all, deeply passionate in His love for each of us. Through my love affair with Him, I have discovered that romance can transcend to another dimension where romantic passion and spiritual passion merge, creating a 3-D love story: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together. I hope you enjoy my stories ... and may they bring you closer to the Father’s heart.

 Ruth Logan Herne writes about "hope, love and redemption." But you can recognize a Ruthy book right away because she dares to write about real life issues (the uncomfortable stuff) and real people who change and grow and are forgiven and redeemed by a good God.  

These examples aren't simply tag lines. These are truly the guiding mission statements for these writers. Covey tells us that our personal mission statements should focus on what we want to be (our internal character and values) and what we want to do (our contribution to this world). I'm sure you can name other writers that you know personally who live and write their writer mission statement.

So think about it. What is the important contribution you want to make as a writer? What do you need to tell the world through your stories? What do you want your writer epitaph to say?

Creating a mission statement takes time, so the information I am going to share now is for you to print off and think and pray about. You don't rush a mission statement.

Remember that mission statements are timeless. They are not goals and they are not wishes.

This is a goal:

  • Win a contest.

  • Sell a book.

  • Make the Times List.

 This is a mission statement:

 Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." 

-Martin Luther King Jr.
And so is this:

 Norman Schwarzkopf: A man does not get to write his own epitaph. But if I were to write mine it would say the following: He loved his family, and he loved his troops, and they loved him -- period.
 Here are examples of mission statements of five famous CEOs.

I wrote my own personal mission statement for my writer life and my personal life using Michael Hyatt's Creating a Personal Life Plan.  Now available as part of his Platform book on Amazon.

You can also go to the Franklin Covey site and create one. This site also lists mission statements of some pretty famous people who will inspire you.

Eventually the trappings of the writing world fall away, but if you create a personal mission statement you will be left with what really matters.

Leave a comment today. One name will be drawn for a Seeker book of choice! ebook or print. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


  1. I wrote out a mission statement years ago, put it on my website. Had to go back and read it every time I wondered if I should give up, but well, I was still meeting my mission statement, so I pressed on. It's a very handy thing.

    So no one has to go looking for it if they want to see it:
    The purpose of my writing life is to produce God pleasing quality entertainment for myself at minimum. I am commanded in 1 Cor. 10:31 that all I do must glorify God, in Heb. 13:15 that my life should be an outpouring of praise and in Phil. 4:8 to dwell on wholesome thought. My goals for writing are to improve the mind and creativity that God has given me through exercise, to portray Christians in a positive, realistic light to the world if a work is so blessed as to be published, and to write quality fiction. I will only write what I want to read. I will not lay down my “pen” until I can truly say, “I have done my best and have no more.”

    1. Well said... And unique to you, Melissa J!

  2. I don't have a mission statement. It does make me wonder what it would say.

  3. I think a mission statement would be a powerful reminder of what's most important in my writing and personal lives. Perhaps it's time to create one.

  4. Thank you for the great post Tina Mission Statements are wonderful things if one holds to them. That isn't always easy. I liked what Melissa Jagears said about posting it on her website and she revisited it every time she wondered if she should give up. That shows how powerful a mission statement can be.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Have a great day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  5. This is absolutely beautiful and I would say that even if you didn't mention me... :)

    And it is so true. How do you know the way if you don't know where you're going?

    The ladder visual and message are perfect, simple and succinct.

    Tina, you outdid yourself. I love this. Thank you.

  6. Melissa, having it posted is smart stuff.

    But then I suspected as much! :)

    You did good, kid.

  7. Amen, to you, Melissa. I knew I liked you. Now I know why.

  8. Writing a mission statement really does provide direction in moments when the outside world is pressing in and you think you should be chasing a rabbit down a path because everyone else is.

    No, you have your own path. Your own rabbits.

  9. What a great post, Tina! Very thought provoking. As I read I kept stopping to reflect on your comments. Thanks!

  10. Well, thanks, Jackie. Tina's my name, thinking' my game.

  11. Way to go, Melissa. This fall my college son walked into my writing room and asked me if I never got published would it be so awful. You statement addresses that very issue.
    A few years ago, as I prayed about writing, I decided it would be up to God what happens with my stories. For whatever reason he has me doing this, I will continue to write and learn how to improve my craft.

    Tina, as I prepare for Speedbo, it occurs to me I need mission statements for my H/H. Thanks!

    I hope you all have a great day!

  12. I wrote a mission statement last year. One thing I struggle with is #2 in this post--I've looked at other writers' journeys and thought mine should look the same. But then I had a revelation.

    I write for God.

    He puts the stories in my heart, and by developing them, I'm honoring Him.

    1. Jill, honoring God is the " character" part of the mission statement. Now figure out the contribution part.

  13. I had never thought of a mission statement for my writing. I'll have to think on that!

  14. Great post Tina and timely before Speedbo. Thanks for reminding us to have a mission statement.

    Love yours Melissa. Good idea to reread it when you feel like you want to give up writing. I need to do that too.

  15. A mission statement. Wonderful idea. If we don't know why we're writing, or what sentiment we want to gift our readers, how can we get our point across?

    I took a time management class at work where the speaker used the Franklin Covey methods. I came home so inspired. But, that inspiration faded shortly afterwards. I know now I need to feed the dream. Write it down. Keep it where I can see it every day.

    Thanks, Tina. Nice boot in the rear : )

    If anyone has a spare prayer today, please keep me in mind. I'll be giving a series of 15 minute demonstrations over next two days to over 1000 fourth graders (25 or so at a time) on Embryology - The Cycle of the Chicken Egg. Oy. Complete with candle-ing.

    And it's supposed to snow today and tomorrow, so make that 1000 wet, excited, cold fourth graders.

    Oh Lord have mercy!

  16. Tina
    You both inspired and confused me. I know there is a mission statement hiding inside of each, but I'm sort of afraid to dig for my own. What if my unique mission is not to write? I mean, I'm a good teacher and a good wife and a pretty good mother/grandmother...but, I am not confident about the writer nor what the focus should be. However, having said all that, I am grateful you discovered your writing mission. It has nurtured me many times.

  17. I loved Julie's mission statement. Isn't that so Julie? And her mission statement is reflected in every book she writes -- whether readers like it or not.

  18. Jill, beautifully said! Much like Tina and her own rabbits, God has given each of us our own one else can write them.

    Do I really want to disappoint God?


  19. Eileen, start with yor mission statement as a writer. What do you want to say to the world. I want to say that Even in the Kingdom of God there is laughter. Joy no matter the situation. You uncover your mission statement. You do not create it. I only know mine because after so many books it becomes obvious.

  20. TINA,
    This is a good post for Speedbo AND Lent. Why are we doing this. I liked the quote from Victor Frankl who also said, "A man who has a 'why' to live can bear almost any 'how.'" My husband is a big Frankl reader and quotes this to me at least once a year and it is true.
    Riffing off Jackie's comment, it would be okay if I never sold a book. It would not be okay if I stopped writing. The blog post, the Sunday-School paper (remember those?), the scrap of a handwritten letter found by someone in the future. Maybe nonfiction if this doesn't work out, who knows? We don't dictate how our talents are used. Or we shouldn't, anyway.
    Kathy Bailey
    Ruminant in New Hampshire

  21. This isn't easy. I know that. Take it away and pray on it.

  22. I got a fan letter this week in my newspaper job (trust me, this almost never happens, I tend to get more hate mail) and it was from a woman whose father was in our local hospital for an extended stay. She wrote about how a series I was doing lifted her up and took her mind off her dad's crisis and prognosis. I didn't intend it that way, didn't even know the woman, but What The Hay. We never know. We are vessels to be used. And used again.

  23. Am having a light week at the day job, yay, and hope to do more Speedbo prep. Or clean closets. It's all good.

  24. Oh, WOW, Tina ... you convicted me SO much in this post that I kept thinking -- I need to write a mission statement.

    And then, BOOM! There I am in the middle of your post in typical Julie Lessman CDQ fashion -- totally ignorant that I already had one!! :)

    Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring post AND for including me in it -- I am truly touched (over and above the "touched" in the head sense) and appreciate the fact that I don't have to write a mission statement because Tina told me I already have one. I kind of feel like the kid who already finished their homework or term paper while everyone else is still slaving ... ;)


  25. Okay, I just read Melissa's mission statement and now I feel like I turned in a term paper on seeds when the assignment was how electromagnetic Fields Affect Plant Growth! Beautiful statement, Melissa, even if it did prove Covey's second point of Habit 2 ... ;)

    Mary said: I don't have a mission statement. It does make me wonder what it would say.

    LOL ... that's where I was too, Mare, until my name popped up in the post ... ;)


  26. Tina, what a great post!! I am a vivid reader and greatly appreciate the great Seeker writers as well as all you do to inspire them!

    Count me in the draw!!

  27. KAYBEE ... way to go on receiving the fan letter, my friend -- rare or not, they sure help to reinforce we are on the right path in touching people's hearts.

    AUDS ... WOW ... praying for your demo to the 1,000 fourth graders today. Actually that's a pretty cool age to do it -- old enough to understand, but young enough not to yawn in your face. :) Gotta feeling you will have their total attention, my friend! Of course, it would help if you plan to have a live chicken too ... ;)

    TINA SAID: No, you have your own path. Your own rabbits.

    LOL ... LOVE THIS!! And love my rabbits, although they have gotten me in deep holes more than once ... ;)


  28. I should probably have my coffee before I turn philosophical (yep, big words until I h my cuppa.) so, I'm we all have a mission statement whether we write it down or not? Thanks, TINA for all you do! Has anyone told you lately that YOU ROCK?! !!!!

  29. I have to be reminded of these habits regularly. I haven't written a mission statement, but I think I have one. It starts with Matt 5:15-16, the verse that spurred me to write Christian fiction. The world is growing so dark everyone must let their light shine. So not only write on, but publish on.

  30. TINA,
    Just call me the Ruminator.

  31. Tina, I came to the site via a FB post by Audra. So glad I did. Great post. Convicting. It reminded me (once again, I keep forgetting this) I shouldn't care what others are thinking I should be doing. Every time I try and do things the way someone else tells me, I get frustrated because it's not me.
    I write romantic suspense and while they are not in the inspirational category there is a big God component for me in each of my books. No matter what I do, He gets into my stories.

    One note. The book by Hyatt isn't available on his site anymore. I went and checked. I couldn't find it on Amazon either. However, I will keep this post and work on a mission statement.

    Thank you for a lovely and motivational post.

    1. I'll ask Mr. Hyatt today at lunch, Sandra!

  32. I think about the "why" to my writing quite a bit. Waiting for publication definitely makes me sensitive to God's attitude toward my writing. If He's not pleased, I don't expect to publish.

    The statement on my website says:
    I write contemporary romance novels for the ones aching to find the right path. The ones who long for heart-stabling contentment. 
    Combining God's Truth and a pinch of wit, I'm sharing the stories of imperfect characters in need of heavenly intervention.

    The wording might change over time, but the main idea won't. I want to show people through story that the Lord has the answer. Plain and simple.

    MELISSA- I remember how impressed I was by your mission statement when I first read it!

    1. Succinct, Courtney! Of course there is no right or wrong. It's your statement!

  33. This is a good post. I need to make a mission statement. A lot to think on from this post. Thank you, Tina!

  34. Or sign up for his newsletter and email me at Seekerville and I'll share mine.

  35. When I jumped back into writing after a lengthy hiatus (caring for our chronically ill son), I felt off-kilter--#2 weighed heavily on my heart. I was convinced I had to do it all, be it all, and have it all according to others' yardsticks.

    I remember reading Julie's mission statement on her website and then taking her workshop at ACFW in 2011. WOW--game-changer! Julie--your heart and mindset for Christ resonate in everything you say and do. I love how you minister to other writers and encourage them to seek a passion for Christ FIRST and everything else will fall into place.

    Tina--I, too, liked Michael Hyatt's Life Plan. I don't have a specific mission statement per se, but on my website, I sum up my life vision and why I write. And I so agree with Melissa. Why write what I don't want to read? I want to bring glorification to God. I don't want to write what my teenage daughter or my Mama or Church Member Martha can't read.

    Thanks, Tina, for making us think about our mission and why it sets the direction for our lives.

  36. Thank you so much for this I was feeling really down about myself,writing, life in general. He always gives you what you need so glad I popped in today.

  37. Can 1000 words a day five days a week ... be a mission statement?

  38. I have helped write mission statements for my day job and never considered writing one for my writing career.

    Hmmm...this will be another goal added to this years list.

  39. I've never written a mission statement, but if I did it would probably say something to the effect to entertain in a clean way. I know that's not deep, but I yearn for good, clean entertainment no matter the genre. How many times have I said "that movie was sooo good if they would just cut out the language/bad scenes."

    Maybe as I write more stories an obvious purpose will emerge that I will recognize.

  40. I think that sensibility in Melissa's statement of "why write what you don't want to read" says so much...

    Because that's what convicted me to stay in the inspirational and sweet modes because that's what I like to read. I always feel funny around people who live two lives... they write or sing Christian because it sells... but then they're totally out there in left field with life.

    I decided that I'm Popeye. I am who I am and that's all that I am, but this way I don't have to worry about living two lives... Or who I said what to!

    Mission statements and self-focus rock!

  41.'ve given me lots to think about. I don't have a mission statement, though I have a clump of visionary thoughts hovering somewhere in the back of my brain. If someone asked me what my mission statement was or what I expected would come from my writing I think I'd give them a deer-in-the-headlights look and faint dead away. :-) So, obviously, improvement is needed. Thanks for the nudge and the great links to make it more than a nudge.

  42. Deer in the headlights is a good starting place, Kav!

  43. Tina, this post is just beautiful. Thank you. I don't have a mission statement. But I will. I'm sure reading that every day would be a powerful force in my life.


  44. Jackie, that mission statement did help me when publication got to be pushed by everyone else. "When are you going to get published? When are you going to stop wasting time?" Was either in my head or being spouted off at me and it would slowly creep in as my focus. Mission statement to the rescue. And I did have the end in sight. When I had done my best and couldn't do anymore. If that happened and no one wanted it, I could quit.....of course, Selfpubbing wasn't really big back then...

    Julie, does it help if I admit I have no idea how electromagnetic fields affect plants??? :P

  45. Connealy, I'm one of the nice Seekers. I'd say yes, definitely.

  46. I don't have a mission statement (unless I've written one and saved it somewhere on my laptop and forgot where it is--very possible). This post makes me want to consider it, though. A mission statement would be such an encouraging reminder during the times the writing life starts to seem like "really hard homework all day every day," and a writer wonders, "Is this really how I want to spend the rest of my life?" LOL. :)

    Great post, Tina! Checking out the links!

  47. I'm not sure if I have a mission statement. Will be doing a wash, rinse, repeat thing on this post Tina. The only thing that comes to mind is what I told students when I was teaching animation: "Life's too short to have a job you hate, so find out how God wired you and then pursue that path."

    My blogger page I made as a place holder until I get coordinated enough to actually DO something with it has the quote: "Changing the world one pixel at a time..." (I'm a Pixel Gypsy - have laptop will travel to create graphics anywhere, anytime for almost anyone).

    mayhap as an author I can change the world one word at a time. hmmm... like I said: will need to read, review and ruminate on this post.

  48. I don't have a mission statement, but I see the importance of having one to keep me focused. I guess I'll add 'write a mission statement' to my to-do-list. Thanks for the post, Tina.

    Melissa - I love your mission statement! You've set the bar high.

    DebH - "Life's too short to have a job you hate, so find out how God wired you and then pursue that path." Yes!! I completely agree. I wouldn't say I hate my day job, but it's become a source of stress in recent years. I'm seven years away from full retirement, but for the past two years I've told my husband I may not make it to the twenty-five year mark. When the bad starts outweighing the good parts of the job, I will walk away.

  49. Rhonda, you should see my to do list! I can never die.

  50. Tina, is that the secret to longevity? Have a to do list that won't end?

  51. I've been using the following as my mission statement for a few years, but I have to admit I saw it somewhere first (could have even been on Seekerville!):

    I am here to serve, not to show off.
    I am here to inspire, not to impress.
    I am here to make a difference, not to make a name.

    Inspiring post today, Tina. Thank you!

  52. It’s the mission,
    not the statement.

    A mission without a statement is a mission none the less but a statement without a mission is a grand illusion.

    Inspiration fades,
    habits endure.

    Successful writers do by habit what unsuccessful writers don’t like to do.


    My mission is to help others see life through an infinite series of self-reflecting mirrors.

  53. Well done, Vince!!! I was hoping you would pop in!!

  54. Hmm. I need time to reflect on this. So far, all I know is I hope my characters show joy and growth as they face the realities of what shaped them and the promise of what they can be.

    Thanks, Tina. Something to meditate on during Speedbo.

    Nancy C
    P.S. I like the link that pointed out the importance of a nap!

  55. Great post, Tina! I love the idea of being proactive on this journey. And, I am challenged to be proactive in determining my mission statement. I'm definitely pondering this today.

    Thanks for making my weary brain think! ;)

  56. Powerful thoughts today, Tina.
    I think it's time for me to write down my Mission Statement (rather than keeping it in my head where "cobwebs" tend to cover it). ;)
    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Hugs, Patti Jo

  57. Great post, Tina! Very inspiring. I've written a statement but it's been years ago. I should dig it out and see if it's changed--if I'VE changed.

    I suspect I need to make a new tagline! I made mine early on just to be cute. Now I might want to change it up to reflect more where I am today.

  58. Thinking does hurt!! I wrote the post!!

  59. Thank you, Tina, for challenging us to look at the big picture and not the day to day minutiae that can keep us from honoring a God given desire to write! I am printing the poster "You can have results or excuses."

  60. Sounds like something I should be thinking about! Please enter me into the book drawing.

  61. What Sandra Kern said about working to suit other people and ending up with something that's 'not me' a deep truth.

    Ultimately, whether we try or not, it is OURSELVES that end up in the pages of our books. OUR beliefs, whether our belief in God or our belief in what makes a compelling story. But the reason so many people can be writers and even write similar books, that are all different, is because we are unique. We are the only one who has lived exactly as we have. And our singularity is what appears on the page.
    And this brought another thought to mind, I'll mention it in my next post.

  62. Love Covey!

    Love Radcliffe even more!

    Great blog. Lots of food for thought.

    Thank you!

  63. Exactly. The ladder on the wrong wall.

    Be you.

    Do you.

    Live you.

    Write you.

    Serve God as you.

  64. Hi Tina -
    Great Post for today and tomorrow especially preparing for Speedbo.

    You got me thinking about a Mission Statement in terms of my desire and ministry as a writer. How about this:

    So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD, His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth. (Hosea 6:3)

    Thanks again Tina for a wonderful post and challenge.

  65. Glad this was helpful, Mark.

    And your mission statement should be relevant to you. Your character and your contribution.

  66. Hmm ... in my Books & Media for Children class, we've been talking a lot the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and how "underrepresented" ethinic "minorities" are in juvenile literature in America. I don't completely agree with all of their goals, and I do believe that story, plot, and the character itself is more important than ethnicity ... However, as a "minority" I do admit it is a thrill to encounter Asian American characters in Christian fiction (perhaps because it's few and far between)?

    If I were an author, I think I'd want to write to change that, but again, making sure that many people can connect and relate to the characters no matter what...

    That's more like a goal than a mission statement though?

  67. I love the thought that mission statements are not created but rather uncovered. So profound, and now I realize why it's hard to pull a mission statement out of thin air :)
    Please put my name in the hat for the book drawing!

  68. Well maybe that needs to be YOUR mission, Jennifer F. To share Gods love for diverse ethnic groups.


  69. I am nodding and smiling in agreement with your comment, Cynthia Herron.

  70. Just finished Helen's book, Bandit Bride. Wow! did I love it. Posted reviews and can't wait to begin the next book tonight. I just love reading the books from the authors who hang out around Seekerville! I think it has a lot to do with the great posts and wonderful people!

  71. I think one of my mission statements has always been that a number of people in Japan were martyred for the faith and someone needs to draw attention to their story. Am I moving toward that?

  72. I have been so blessed by this post, Tina. The idea of a mission statement has never struck me, but I love the idea.

    Off the cuff, I would say my why is to show how God's love and mercy can find us even in the trials and tribulations, and that He can bring hope and healing out of suffering and despair.

    That's probably too vague. I need to ponder this.

  73. Tina, I never thought how a writing mission statement would differ from a writing business plan, but I thank you for your post to show the difference. I clicked on the link and was amazed to read mission statements from five successful leaders (I liked Richard Branson's statement about having fun and learning from his past).

    Thanks for today's post. It's food for thought.

  74. You're welcome , Tanya.

    I am all about brain pain.


  76. I have a mission statement on my website, but after reading your post I think I need to improve it. I love a good tale that has plenty of adventure, romance, a touch of humor, but I mostly enjoy watching the hero and the heroine fight against terrible odds.
    Because life isn't always easy.
    And that's why I write and speak at ladies' events - to give people hope while entertaining them with a touching story.
    I'm a wife, mom, reunited birth-mother, and grandmother. No matter what your situation, it's my prayer your faith will be strengthened as you read my fictional books, my true-life blog postings, my Adoption/Relinquishment/Reunion story, or hear me speak of the breath-taking things God has done in my life.

  77. Very interesting post.. I need a mission statement for life...
    please enter me :)

  78. Excellent post, Tina! I'm bookmarking this one to study more thoroughly. :)