I felt almost like a good friend had died when I heard news Monday that acclaimed author Dr. Stephen R. Covey had passed away. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, touched millions of lives the world over with his bestselling fusion of business and self-help. He sold more than 20 million books in more than three dozen languages. He was an author and speaker who was able to articulate his message simply and powerfully. His most popular work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, inspired and informed employees, employers, students, leaders, and others everywhere.
In honor of Covey, we present the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers.
1. Be proactive. Look for opportunities. Making a living writing isn’t easy, but successful writers don’t let that idea stop them. They know opportunities are all around. But they don’t sit around waiting for opportunity to knock. They go looking for them by marketing themselves, producing good work, and networking.
2. Begin with the end in mind. Highly effective writers know their stories, blog posts, articles, books, and other products don’t just happen. They think through what they want to say and write accordingly. That allows for a more efficient process.
3. Put first things first. Set priorities and work accordingly. Productive writers don’t let their time get sucked away by meaningless, nonproductive activities that prevent them from doing the main thing. Sure, hanging out on Facebook or Twitter may be part of a good marketing mix, but that doesn’t mean they spend all day there. The same with the pieces they write. They realize every piece doesn’t need to be labored over and tinkered with umpteen times. They prioritize their work and remember the point of what they are doing.
4. Think win/win. Effective writers look for ways to make sure their clients win, right along with them. They realize it’s not enough — nor is it sustainable — to go in thinking of your own agenda, with no regard to the client’s request. Your clients need to get something from the relationship, too. Otherwise, they won’t come back.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Successful freelance writers try to understand the client’s needs, as well as the client’s perspective. Rather than immediately running off at the mouth and trying to make your point, take a moment to listen. You may find that your understanding of the project allows you to score a home run — and land bigger and better projects in the future.
6. Synergize. Productive writers look for ways to create solutions and relationships that draw on multiple experiences. When you create relationships that benefit from what each person brings to the table, you can create a bigger impact than if you relied only on your own means, intellect, or experience. This could mean looking for an agent to help shop your work, a graphic designer to help you put together writing and design projects, or a tax adviser who can help you plan your financial future.
7. Sharpen the saw. No matter how much you love to write, you can’t do it all the time. Effective writers know that it is important to take time to step back from work occasionally to do something fun or relaxing. The time away can help you feel more energized about your work. It might even give you a new perspective or idea to try in your writing.
What did you learn from Stephen Covey’s work?
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