1. Writers are made, not born.
I think a very common misconception among beginning writers is that they can sit down at their computer, bang out a manuscript, and then expect a publisher to pick them right up. This does happen, but rarely. Why would we think a writer's path is different from say a doctor's? If you want to be a doctor you can expect to spend at least 10 years learning and perfecting your craft. I think writers should expect the same. If it happens sooner, great. But go in expecting a ten year apprenticeship. You'll be less disappointed when the years pass and you're still banging away at your computer!
2. Read, read, read.
This tip makes it to many lists like this for a reason. I believe we can learn more by reading other novels (talking to fiction writers) than reading how-to books. We'll pick up more than we might imagine. We'll recognize the structure of a story, and what makes it compelling. It'll happen naturally if you read widely. You might not be able to name exactly why something works, but you'll have a gut feeling what does. That skill will be one to ride the river with.
3. Don't worry about your voice and branding too early.
This is something I've noticed a lot in beginning writers (and of course I'm still learning a ton myself). They focus less on their craft and more about their "voice" and how to brand themselves, than I personally think they should. Your voice will develop naturally the more you write, and why worry about branding when you have nothing to brand? Yes, I understand both of these things are important at some point in our writing careers, but if we focus on writing the best books we possibly can, we'll eventually get to the place where these things naturally fall into place.
I could go on and on with various tips I've learned, but I'll stop here and leave the rest for another day. :) Now ... who to tag? I'm going with Mike Dellosso, Katie Cushman, John Perrodin, Donna Fleisher, Darcie Gudger, and Creston Mapes.
The CFBA blog tour this week is for Marilynn Griffith's new novel Happily Ever After. Marriage. Motherhood. And a Monster-in-law. Interesting ... :)