(I just posted this on my Bubblews profile, but it could also go here. :D)
I’m a writer. Mostly of short, science fiction stories, but I dabble in other lengths and genres. A year or so ago, I started on this little bit of advice for writers, but I never got around to polishing it up. I was cleaning up my files on my computer and came across this, and I figured I could polish it up for Bubblews. 😀
I believe the best advice I can give to any writer is the need to expand yourself and your writing. By expanding yourself I mean traveling to new places, listening to different styles of music, trying new foods, etc. But the most important thing is to read. Read everything, not just your favorite style of books. Read biographies and mysteries, read about history and about fantasy. Reread old classics you hated because you were forced to read them in high school, but read them on your own now and see why they are classics. All of these things will make you a more well-rounded person, which will make the characters you write about more well-rounded, which will increase the chance your readers will enjoy them.
There are two aspects to expanding you writing. The first is sort of structural. This covers basic things like writing so many words a day or a chapter a week. I found that when I started doing my best to write every day my productivity – surprise, surprise – went way up. This in turn boosted my confidence which made me want to write even more. That’s a very good cycle to be caught in. It’s also a great way to get your writing muscles warmed up. Once they are warmed up, the next step is to stretch your limits in writing. You can keep writing the same thing over and over again, but your readers will probably become bored with it. One of the easiest ways to stretch your limits is to write something you don’t normally write. For example, if you mainly write science fiction with a male lead character, try writing a romance with a female lead character. Keep in mind, the point of the exercise isn’t to become a bestselling romance author, just to try something new. And there’s a good chance you’ll discover an element that will make your characters more realistic that you can then take back to your science fiction stories.
Basically, this all boils down to: “Write. Keep writing.”