My Best Advice: Work On Your Craft by Sydney Salter
Last month I took a three day writing workshop on developing characters. I'm working on a story with four POV characters, and want to make each one equally strong and interesting. The workshop really helped me figure out solutions for a few characters, including adding a fun new character. I left the class super excited to write and revise.
Ten of us took the workshop, but I was the only one with published books. The teacher, Dave Farland, talked about how people sometimes tell him that he should vet his workshop attendees through writing samples. He strongly disagrees. In his experience, people who have the passion to publish will work on their craft until it is publishable.
I agree 100%!
I've met so many people who want to write books - almost every time I tell someone that I'm a writer, I hear about the story they'd like to write someday. I always tell them to start writing! Let it be bad. You can always make bad writing better, but you can't fix something that doesn't exist yet.
Most people never write the books they want to write.
Working on writing craft isn't glamorous. Often it's tedious, time consuming, and filled with all the flavors of failure. The only thing that ensures writing success is writing practice. People are often surprised that I published my so-called desk novel. My first published novel, My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters, was my fourth written novel. But I loved that very first story that inspired me to finally write a novel, so I kept taking the lessons I learned from honing my craft back to Jungle Crossing, making improvements over time, until it was ready for publication.
Even though I am published, I continue to read books about writing craft. I do practice writing exercises. I try out new ideas, new forms of writing. I enter contests. I want to be a better writer - and that only comes through working on craft.