2.WRITE. Write every day. Prose, poetry, diary, blogs, it all counts, and it's all important. Write badly. Write without using any punctuation marks. Use words you've never used before. Get funky with your thesaurus. You have to find your voice, your writing identity, your unique literary thumbprint. Explore with words and challenge yourself in impossible ways. Do NaNoWriMo. Join online writing guilds. Go to conferences and take classes. Write for yourself and for others and above all else, for gosh sakes, don't stop and don't give up. And if at all possible, write on a steampunk typewriter computer like this one, because COOL:
3. LIVE. (this especially to all you introverts like me!) Don't let your only experience of the world be vicarious. Go outside, meet new people, go to strange places, eat weird foods, do crazy and daring things. Go outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Have adventures. The most important thing you will bring to your writing is your own personality, experiences, and emotions. Don't borrow all of that from books, moves, TV, etc. Get out and find your own!
4. BE QUIRKY. Be yourself! (see #3)
5. GET INVOLVED. Find other writers, either in person or online, and especially ones who are at the same stage as you are. Share your frustrations, your triumphs, your risks, and your failures. Connect with other writers because then you will know that you are not alone and that success is possible. When you have a bad day, when you're paper mache-ing bowls out of your rejection letters and you hate every word you ever put on paper, these are the people who will listen to you, hurt with you, encourage you, then pick you up off the floor, dust you off, and push you back in line. To write is to be intensely vulnerable. It's you pasting the tenderest parts of your identity to the wall and then letting any passing stranger chuck a tomato at them. You're going to need a wingman or two. You're going to need to know that you are not alone and that you are strong enough to take a few hits. Surround yourself with the ones who make you stronger. Surround yourself with the honest ones, the kind ones, the ones you'll be there for just as they are there for you.
Be like the Doctor. Always take a companion. Hugs take two--even virtual ones!