Here are the top seven most important things that I have learned in the past year:
1. Treat writing like your job.
You will never achieve your dreams of being a writer if you do not take it seriously. Have a set schedule devoted to your writing even if it's only an hour a day before the kids get out of bed.
2. Set a weekly goal.
Having a goal will cause you to push yourself. Whether it is a word count or the amount of time spent in front of the computer screen, you need something to strive towards. Otherwise you will be more tempted to watch television or browse Facebook.
3. Write even when your not feeling inspired.
You could sit in your pj's watching reruns night after night for weeks, months or even years waiting for inspiration to strike. Force yourself to sit in front of the computer. I have been surprised at what pours out on the page once I turn on my laptop and look over what I wrote the day before.
4. Take a class.
I recently took an advanced novel writing class through Writer's Digest University. I have never pushed myself so hard and I produced more than I ever had. I also saw and increase in the quality of my work because I knew an instructor would be reading it.
5. Explore Contests
Last year, I participated in Robert Brewer's Poem A Day Challenge on the Writer's Digest Website. Sadly, none of my poems were chosen, but it was a rewarding experience and a great way to get the creative juices flowing.
6. Read, read, read and then read some more.
I have been reading books on writing as well as books in my genre. I especially enjoyed Stephen King's book On Writing and James Scott Bell has some excellent books on the craft. They were both helpful and inspirational.
7. Check out Youtube
I found some interesting material on Youtube about the craft of writing. There are tons of informational videos to help you expand your writer's toolbox. Being a great writer means always working to improve your craft and modern technology makes it easy. Take advantage of this resource.