Some of you might know, from following my progress journal, that worked on my first novel for a year and a half and now it is at the editor I learned many things, looking back at classic writers, Twain, Thompson, London, Frost.
-First and the most important lesson I learned, it started as a hobby but it is no longer a game. I looked for inspiration to hit me anything to get my muse going, but I learned I had to force myself to write. I have said it before and I'll preach it again, I force 2000 words a day, no excuses. I learned if i was going to take it serious, it had to be treated like a job. There were nights I went through my notes kicking and screaming, not wanting to write, not wanting to deal with the scene I was on. I brought my laptop and all 12 of my notebooks on vacation, and when everyone went to bed I wrote. Some nights I just barely hit 2000 words and was oh so happy after the hours at the keyboard, other nights I hit it out of the ballpark and wrote 4 to 5 thousand words (and no, my words never rolled over)
-My second lesson, sometimes you have to look at other pieces. My 2k words a night were not always aimed at my main novel, sometimes I worked on outlines, poetry, other novels in the same series. I learned that writers block was an excuse for procrastination, and above all, even if it wasn't my main piece, I was still honing my skills and abilities.
-My inner editor and critic is a liar. I don't mean everything I wrote was gold, but I had to learn to silence the negativity and write every idea down. I tried to imagine how it would work out, but unless it was typed or written on paper, I never knew for sure if it was good or bad. Everything I was on the fence about, I cut and pasted into another document and waited on it as I wrote the scene over and over in different ways, till it was time to let my inner critic out, and let him cut and slash everything and anything.
-Notebooks, God I love them. From .79 cent legal pads to moleskin and water proof, i keep them everywhere. Every coat I have, there is one hidden in a pocket, my toolbox at work, my car (i keep a tape recorder.), my bedroom and scattered through the house. (I do in fact have a water proof notebook and an astronaut pen so i can write in the shower.) I write every idea, every piece of the puzzle, whether its relevant or not. Every Friday night, i gather everything up, and file it in my three ring binder/outline. I make my living as a mechanic but at my heart I am a writer first and foremost.
-Don't beat yourself up. In the beginning I took criticisms to heart, thought that everything i wrote was trash. A lot of it was, but as I learned what worked and didn't I shaped my story, and my skill.
-Read... Always keep reading. I wrote 2k a night and I read a chapter a day. Hunter S. Thompson used to type famous pieces of work to get a feel of what the author was doing, thinking, feeling, so I read. Top sellers, free e books, sci fi fantasy everything but YA (Personal preference, I have a hard time with teenagers that save the world.) Even romance. What better way to learn than to see how published authors do it.
I am not saying this is the only correct way to view things, but these are the lessons I learned in the last 18 months or so. If you have anything too add, I would be happy to see what everyone else has learned.