Reading a variety of genres and different forms of media (newspapers, blogs, poetry) helps develop your personal voice, your style. Everything you read becomes part of you as a writer. Read as much as you can. Be voracious.
And be willing to write crap that you would never, ever let anyone read. The fire hazard in my basement exists because I loved to create characters and stories, not because I wanted to get rich and famous. A true writer writes because her brain goes crazy if she doesn't.
3. Develop Thick Skin
It's hard I know but you have to let other people (in the beginning only choose people you really trust to give you an honest, constructive opinion...) read your work. It's part of the growing pains. Sometimes the truth hurts but you'll never grow as a writer if you don't allow the negative comments in. Ignore those people who are malicious just because they think it makes them sound intelligent and really appreciate the critics who offer harsh advice because they want to help you get better.
4. Read Your Own Work.
This was hard for me in the beginning because in my mind the story was excellent. That was only because I could see it fully fleshed out in my imagination. Read it like you paid twenty bucks for it at Barnes & Noble. Most of the time I hated my stuff after I read it.
True writers aren't writers. They're rewriters. I actually started Filter in December 2009. By April 2010 I hated it. It wasn't going the way I wanted it to go. I scrapped it and restarted, yes from the beginning. And it was worth. My characters were much happier.
7. Revise after you've Rewritten
I've checked for grammatical and name errors until my vision was literally crossing. Enlist the help of a friend to help you comb through. If people are spending time and money to read your work, you'd better give them the best.
8. Take risks
With your writing and your sharing. Open yourself up to people who may not be just like you. They might offer some excellent advice you never would have considered. Allow the unintended to happen in your book. That's something called "originality" and a LOT of books are lacking in it. Let your characters do what they would do on their own and without your control. You might not be ready for them to take the dangerous leap but they are. Trust them.
9. Be proud of your rejections.
Even Stephenie Meyer and Stephen King were in the slush piles at one point. I use to tape my rejection letters to the wall. Being rejected means you're at least working toward something. It means you aren't giving up. Keep going.
Publish your book online for free at http://www.smashwords.com or amazon.com. Just make sure you have an honest to goodness real copyright. There is no better way to safeguard your work. It's only $35 at http://www.copyright.gov List your work for free. Let the people get to know you before you dare ask for their money. Mine is available for free at http://www.smashwords.com
11. Support other novice novelists
Don't think of other writers as competition. There are so many readers and it takes us so long to write one good book. Support and encourage and help other authors with their marketing.
12. If you need some encouragement or an honest opinion message me.