How to be an Effective Writer (and 7 bad Habits to avoid) -
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How to be an Effective Writer (and 7 bad Habits to avoid)

How to be an Effective Writer (and 7 bad Habits to avoid)

Many of you may be familiar with Stephen Covey’s bestseller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He recommends that if you want to be a winner—in anything you pursue—you need to:

  1. be proactive
  2. begin with the end in mind
  3. put first things first
  4. always think win/win
  5. first understand then strive to be understood
  6. synergize
  7. sharpen the saw emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally.


After years of listening to wanna-be writers whine about their reasons for not succeeding, I’ve noted 7 things most losers have in common, besides their lack of perseverance. Believe it or not, their failure usually has nothing to do with their lack of writing talent or skill.

Here they are—the 7 Habits of Dismally Failing Writers:

  1. They don’t act. They wait for editors to seek them out or expect published friends to provide them with editorial and agent contacts. They don’t join writing organizations.
  2. They don’t have writing goals. They don’t know where they are going or how they are going to get there.
  3. They ignore their writing and the pursuit of their craft. They think they have all the time in the world and they’ll eventually get “around to it.” They spend more time talking about writing than actually writing.
  4. They won’t spend money to take workshops or attend a conference. They’re postage piddlers, buying only a couple of stamps at a time instead of a roll of 100, intending to send out dozens of manuscripts. They don’t inconvenience themselves to acquire new knowledge. They don’t underline, highlight, or circle passages in their copies of The Writer or Writer’s Digest—if they bother to read these publications.
  5. They resist doing market research. They can’t name the top five publishing houses that buy the sort of manuscripts they write. They’ve never heard of Publisher’s Weekly. They assume their admirable writing abilities should be enough to make them successful, published writers.
  6. They avoid networking. Because they are introverts, they prefer to suffer in silence, refusing to attend workshops or join writing groups. They don’t realize that in the writing world—as in other professions—it really is WHOM you know and not necessarily WHAT you know.
  7. They are afraid to actually write or send out what they’ve written for fear someone will steal their great ideas. They don’t realize that good ideas (and bad ones!) are a dime a dozen, and there really ISN’T anything new under the sun. That’s why ideas are not copyrightable—only the actual manuscripts are protected under the law.


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