Well, it's not something that I make a habit of, dispensing advice, but...try these:
1) Read. Read everything, especially non-fiction.
2) Write. Publishing will or won't happen, but if you are a writer, you will write, regardless.
3) Do not quit (or fail to acquire) a day job, as you will likely never make a living off your fiction.
4) Do not self publish (and no, Sirenia Digest [her monthly erotic vignette-writing exercise] is not the same thing). Most emphatically, do not self-publish hoping it will bring you to the attention of Big Publishers. It will only make them shun you.
5) Floss, because writers don't get dental plans.
6) If possible, get a college education, and (see #3), if possible, in something that will yield a decent income. This does not include English lit (unless you intend to teach, and to acquire a Ph.D.), and it most definitely does not include "Creative Writing" degrees.
7) Grammar matters. Punctuation, spelling, capitalization, sentence structure, all that stuff. It matters A LOT.
8) Exercise, take a good multi-Vitamin, don't smoke, and get laid regularly. Drink only in moderation. Writers do not get health insurance.
9) Forget retirement. Writers rarely get such a thing.
10) Travel! While regionalism is important in fiction, one often only comes to appreciate his or her corner of the world by seeing other parts of it.
11) Don't waste your life on video games, Second Life, mmorgs, and television. This rule may be ignored if you are over 40 and already an established author.
12) Use psychotherapy as a tool, not an excuse, and beware the drugs dispensed by psychiatrists.
14) Expect to fail.
15) Don't waste money you could use paying rent, going to school, traveling, or getting laid on "writing workshops." They are a waste of time, and while they might help you make friends with other would-be writers, they will neither make you a better writer nor a more successful one. They'll only tell you that they will.
16) The more languages you know, the better.
17) Write what you know, and be versatile. Setting out to be a mystery or "horror" or fantasy or military suspense or romance writer is all well and good, but be able to write a range of styles and (urgh) genres.
18) Trust that no one can tell you how to become a writer. That includes me.
Hope that helps.
Note: #13? Writers should be superstitious, so there is no #13.
Writing advice from Caitlin R. Kiernan!
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