Think of writing like karate...it's about DISCIPLINE.
Writing, like other forms of art, work or talent, requires discipline. It won't ever be enough that you say to yourself that you are a writer. Only when you write and write with discipline can you call yourself one. Before you can earn a black belt in karate, you have to dedicate yourself, practice and instill discipline in yourself to learn the moves and techniques.
The same goes for writing. Don't just read books. Devour them. Ray Bradbury, author of Zen in the Art of Writing, suggests books of essays, poetry, short stories, novels and even comic strips. Not only does he suggest that you read authors who write the way you hope to write, but "also read those who do not think as you think or write as you want to write, and so be stimulated in directions you might not take for many years." He continues, "don't let the snobbery of others prevent you from reading Kipling, say, while no one else is reading him."
Learn to differentiate between good writing and bad writing. Make time to write. Write even though you're in a bad mood. Put yourself in a routine. Integrate writing into your life. The goal is not to make writing dominate your life, but to make it fit in your life. Julia Cameron, in her book The Right to Write, sums it best: "Rather than being a private affair cordoned off from life as the rest of the world lives it, writing might profitably be seen as an activity best embedded in life, not divorced from it."
Believe that EVERYONE HAS A STORY -- including you.
Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. As a writer, your job is to capture as many of these things and write them down, weave stories, and create characters that jump out of the pages of your notebook. Don't let anything escape your writer's eye, not even the way the old man tries to subtly pick his nose or the way an old lady fluffs her hair in a diner. What you can't use today, you can use tomorrow. Store these in your memory or jot them down in your notebook.
Jump in the middle of the fray. Be in the circle, not outside it. Don't be content being a mere spectator. Take a bite of everything life dishes out. Ray Bradbury wrote, "Tom Wolfe ate the world and vomited lava. Dickens dined at a different table every hour of his life. Moliere, tasting society, turned to pick up his scalpel, as did Pope and Shaw. Everywhere you look in the literary cosmos, the great ones are busy loving and hating. Have you given up this primary business as obsolete in your own writing? What fun you are missing, then. The fun of anger and disillusion, the fun of loving and being loved, of moving and being moved by this masked ball which dances us from cradle to churchyard. Life is short, misery sure, mortality certain. But on the way, in your work, why not carry those two inflated pig-bladders labeled Zest and Gusto."
Attack writing with PASSION.
The kind of writing you produce will oftentimes reflect the current state of your emotions. Be indifferent and your writing will be indifferent. Be cheerful and watch the words dance across your page.
Whenever you sit down to write, put your heart and soul in it. Write with passion. Write as if you won't live tomorrow. In her book, Writing the Wave, Elizabeth Ayres wrote: "There's one thing your writing must have to be any good at all. It must have you. Your soul, your self, your heart, your guts, your voice -- you must be on that page. In the end, you can't make the magic happen for your reader. You can only allow the miracle of 'being one with' to take place. So dare to be you. Dare to reveal yourself. Be honest, be open, be true...If you are, everything else will fall into place."