1. Read - a lot. And read a variety. If you read good work, good works will come out of you. It’s not easy, but if you want to learn something, the quickest way is to go directly to the source.
2. Listen – to what you are reading, to what you are researching, and the people and places you visit. Let the patterns, rhythms, forms, and even their uniqueness imprint themselves upon you.
3. Write - a lot. Practice makes perfect. Not everything you write will be read, or liked, by others. So, always write for yourself first. When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek The Next Generation fans gave him a lot of grief about Wil Wheaton’s character Wesley Crusher. They shouted about a child having no place on board a starship. Roddenberry rebuked them saying, “You are all under the impression I write for you, but I write for me and I like the character…”
4. Don’t think too much – be patient, don’t worry, keep going, and stop comparing yourself to others. You have no idea what others went through before they found the “success” you envy so much. There will always be someone “better” or “more successful” than you. You can’t control what editors are looking for, or at what point in history an idea will appeal to the masses, but you can control what you create – so enjoy your craft.
In short, immerse yourself in the real world as well as the written as often as possible. And keep your own pen (or keyboard) moving.