So! Here are some things I've (re)discovered about writing over the past few weeks:
1. There's a time and a place for everything, including writing. I like tables that are supposed to be for eating—cafeteria tables, my dining room table, diner booth tables—either early in the morning or early in the evening.
2. Editing can oppose as well as complement writing. I know a lot of people who can edit as they go along, but I can't. It kills my momentum.
3. Writing is mostly practice. Practice, patience, perseverance. You make mistakes. You learn from them. You write some more. It's more about discipline and introspection than talent, though talent certainly helps.
4. Being good at one type of writing doesn't automatically make you good at the others, but it means you can learn to be. I'm a decent poet. I used to be a lousy fiction writer. I think now I'm a mediocre fiction writer. The form you practice more, the one you read more, is the one you'll get better at.
5. Trying to publish keeps you honest. It keeps you writing, it keeps you rereading your work to understand why it wasn't accepted, it keeps you humble, it keeps you hungry. I think writers who don't attempt to publish their work can very easily become complacent and many cease to improve.
6. You can always be better. I'm skeptical that individual pieces of writing can never be improved, but flat out deny that individual writers can never improve.
7. Creative writing can be taught. This doesn't mean all students will be equally capable. Nuclear physics can be taught; are all students of nuclear physics equally capable?
8. Writing is a habit. Writing every day, even if the product is sometimes—even often—terrible, is useful. I think it produces stronger long-term results than waiting for the proverbial Muse to move you.
9. Writing well is a real skill. Although I believe that many, if not most, people could write reasonably well, very few actually do. Further, I believe that most people think they're good writers because they write every day—grocery lists, e-mails, birthday cards, &c. Literacy is not equal to writing ability. Good writers are rare and should be paid well for their work.
10. Writing is work. Writing is difficult, writing takes time, writing is not always fun. If it's what you want to do above all else, you'll find a way to do it. If you don't have the patience for revision or desire to succeed or the stomach for rejection, this line of work isn't for you.
What have you recently learned about writing, mes auteurs? And/or what are the best, worst, most and least helpful pieces of advice you've ever received with regard to writing?