11. Take a writing course.
I think this should have been Tip #1! Now, I’m not saying that you have to have a formal educational background to be a great writer, but I do think that it helps tremendously. Whether it’s a creative writing class, a grammar or editing course, having a solid foundation can only improve your writing and make it that much better. As a publisher, I see many submissions come through, and for a good majority of them, the writer has a good story, but the presentation and content are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off. Yes, if you have an editor, they will more than likely catch the mistakes that you may have missed or can even make you see your story in a different way that allows it to flow better, but at the end of the day, you have to take responsibility for your own work. When I say this, I mean, make it as clean as possible before you give it to your editor. Some mistakes can be avoided while others are inevitable. Knowing where to place a comma properly is important; knowing the difference between ‘than’ and ‘then’ is essential. These things are not always intuitive, but if you invest in yourself and your craft, you will only benefit from your increased knowledge.
Personally, I have my Bachelor’s Degree in English Studies from Sacramento State University as well as my Professional Editing Certificate from UC Berkeley, and I plan to go back to school to obtain my Master’s in Creative Writing. As an author, I don’t ever feel like I can know everything there is to know about the English language. As the times change, so do how we write and speak. We must be able to keep up, and I think that occurs from skilling up! Remember, this is your craft, so take the time to nurture it.