This was posted over at W.I.P. It and bears repeating... wanted to add some thoughts.
4. Be confident.
Symptoms of not being confident: using words such as was like, similar too, almost, and sort of in your writing (dialog excepted).
Good piece of advice I picked up somewhere: a writer must eliminate the phrases "I can't describe it" and "I can't explain it" from their vocabulary. From their entire life. I agree.
5. Learn how and practise.
There's a theory out there that the first million words you write are your apprenticeship. Having gotten through that first million words, I'm inclined to agree. There's good stuff in there, don't get me wrong, but then there's parts where I facepalm and can't believe I tied up almost a quarter million words in that boring subplot...
6. Presentation is important.
You can't make a good pie without a good crust. This's why store bought pies generally aren't worth the trouble -- they worry so much about the filling and then throw it to some compressed-crumb-cardboardy thing.
This ties into word choice, sentence structure, timing, and ultimately into the confidence mentioned in #4. Because a confident writer can sell you on these things. But they're closely tied. People like to say that grammar rules are meant to be bent or broken, but IMO you've got to earn the right to do that. Both by proving you know the rules and by confidently leading me, the reader, through your little crimes.
It should also be noted that I'm terrible at these in the real world. I'm shy, insecure, easily distracted, don't pay much attention to my appearance. My writing's a direct line through all that to... I don't know, the choice of words here depends on whether you're an optimist or a pessimist. Either my inner goddess or my inner psychosis.
p.s. Hello, my first few followers! You're making my blog subscription list mushroom... :)