10 Habits for Highly Effective Writers

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It’s my great pleasure to welcome author Lisa Carter as my guest today. She’s also giving away a copy of her new novel, Beneath a Navajo Moon, so be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win!

10 Habits for Highly Effective Writers

George Ballanchine, legendary choreographer, once said, “I don’t want people who want to dance. I want people who have to dance.”

If this is true of you and writing, congratulations. You are already a writer.

But now comes the tougher part. Like any ability or skill—athletics, music—writing must be honed. Many people say they’ve always wanted to write a book. Few have the patience and stick-to-it-iveness to battle self-doubts or the self-discipline to see the goal accomplished. To become a highly effective writer will require courage. To tap into the highly effective writer within you will necessitate a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, your routine, and open yourself to growth and change.

Here are some tips to live and write by:

  1. Be humble. Be teachable.
  2. Glue your butt in the writing chair and write every day.
  3. Read and study the master writers in your genre.
  4. Join professional writing organizations to dialogue with other
    published and unpublished writers.
  5. Meet regularly with a local circle of likeminded writer friends for encouragement.
  6. Attend the best writer conferences your budget allows—at least one conference a year.
  7. Find a compatible critique partner and learn to edit yourself brutally.
  8. Develop a Teflon-coated skin when the rejections start to pile up.
  9. Related to #8, persist, mature, and endure.
  10. It’s worth repeating again— Be a person that others will enjoy working with. Be humble and teachable. As one publisher told me, “Life is too short to work with divas.”

It’s all about attitude. Plus self-discipline. Put your money and time where your mouth is and work hard at your craft.  Have a servant’s heart. It’s not all about you. For me, writing is a collaborative partnership—between me, God, and others.

At the beginning of my writer journey I read a quote by suspense author, Elizabeth George, which enabled me to shake off those creative doubts of inadequacy and continue to seek publication. She said, “You will be published if you possess 3 qualities—talent, passion, and discipline . . . And the most important of these is discipline.” Discipline—keeping on keeping on—I can do.

Writers have to write, just like they have to breathe. So, get out there and write your heart out.

Author Lisa Carter

Author Lisa Carter

In case you don’t know Lisa, here’s a bit about her: 

Lisa Carter is the author of two romantic suspense novels, Carolina Reckoning and Beneath A Navajo Moon (releasing March 2014); and Aloha Rose, a contemporary romance in the Quilts of Love series. Under a Turquoise Sky releases August 2014. She is also a frequent speaker and vocalist at women’s ministry events, where she shares her own journey of faith. Lisa and her husband have two daughters and make their home in North Carolina. She has strong opinions about barbecue, ACC basketball, and the Cola Wars. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales, quilting, and researching her next exotic adventure.

Beneath a Navajo Moon

Beneath a Navajo Moon

For behind the scene photos of Beneath a Navajo Moon, visit

Here’s a bit about Lisa’s new novel, Beneath a Navajo Moon

What happens when love and danger collide

deep in the heart of the Navajo Nation?

The search for a woman who disappeared in 1906 leads cultural anthropologist Erin Dawson to Cedar Canyon, where iconic red rock canyons keep Navajo traditions—and maybe criminal evidence—well hidden.

Erin’s search leads her to cross paths with tribal policeman Adam Silverhorn, and it’s hardly love at first sight. But when the two are suddenly thrust into a battle far more dangerous—a common quest to rout an insidious drug cartel on the reservation—they must rely on each other for their very survival. The danger mounts as Adam gives Erin a rare glimpse into Navajo life few outsiders ever see—and into a crime ring that no one dares to imagine. Will they make it out alive?

Thanks so much for being here today, Lisa, and sharing your writing wisdom with all of us! 

Readers, leave a comment below for your chance to win a copy of Beneath a Navajo Moon (print copy, US only).


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    The Conversation

  1. Connie Mann says:

    Thanks so much for being here today, Lisa! Your encouragement was just what I needed to hear!

    Readers–leave a comment for a chance to read Lisa’s new book!

  2. remullins says:

    My biggest problem is being hyper-critical of myself while editing. Even after editor, advance readers, and copy editor have approved it, I still want to change things during my initial re-read. I’m suppose to have this done by the weekend and I haven’t even gotten off the first chapter yet. On my first book I wanted hundreds of changes after it had been put into galley form. I thought my editor was going to kill me.

    • Connie Mann says:

      I can totally relate! I am trying to get through a MS, but I keep going back over the same ground. Time to move forward and do the best we can–in the time allotted! And then, let it go. That’s the hardest part! 🙂

  3. Jan Jackson says:

    Great advice and a much needed boost for a dreary day. Thanks.

  4. Barb Bettis says:

    Great post and one I can certainly learn from. Like you and others, I’m terribly critical of my own writing–and time just gets away from me!

  5. Lisa Carter says:

    Thanks so much for hosting me and Beneath a Navajo Moon today, Connie. I’m obsessive-compulsive when it comes to edits, too. I edit nothing during the first draft and revise, revise, and revise later. I’ll send in the manuscript and when it comes back after copy edits, I revise again—my own edits usually more brutal than the publisher’s. And when the galleys come back, I have to force myself to only make minor typo type changes. I guess it means remullins that we keep growing as a writer in the months in between which is a good thing. 🙂

    • Connie Mann says:

      Ah, another obsessive-compulsive editor! I’m in good company, it seems!

      Yeah, I think you’re right–wanting to keep changing means we’re growing as writers! Thanks, Lisa

  6. Mary Sayler says:

    Good tips for a good work ethic! To encourage other members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook to read this, I highlighted the post on the Christian Poets & Writers blog – . God bless.

  7. Maddy says:

    Wise words indeed. I also find I edit, re-edit, and so on. That’s why another pair of eyes [several pairs] can often shed light on the blinking obvious that the writer missed.

  8. Lisa Carter says:

    Maddy—I find relationship building has been the most important part of my publication journey. Even if I had never received a contract, the friends I’ve made along the way—like Connie—have been so wonderful and life-affirming to me as a person. I really encourage writers to find a like-minded critique partner and larger group for encouragement. Conferences led me to my agent and eventually, my publisher. Not to mention how I grew in my craft and marketing skills.

    • Connie says:

      Maddy and Lisa, I’m with you, ladies, absolutely. All the wonderfully encouraging people–like Lisa and the VCRW ladies, to name a few–I’ve met along the way who’ve helped sharpen my writing and made my life so much richer–they are a blessing I never expected, but so appreciate!