There are a lot of ways to improve like Lin already mentioned (reading books on technique, taking classes, etc.) but I think I think I'll stick to what's worked for me.
- Read. Read. Read. I love to read and I read every chance I get with the exception of when I'm in first draft mode. It's one of my personal quirks to keep my head clear and focused when I'm really in intense creation mode, but aside from that I read constantly. Reading is like studying for a test. The more you do it, the better your score will be. I personally stick to reading what I love but I think as long as you read something of quality it doesn't really matter if it's the same genre you're working in or not.
- An extra set of eyes. Or two. Or three. Finding critique partners was one of the best things that ever happened for me as a writer. I can't imagine where I'd be without them. I shudder to think of it! Not only did their comments and edits make my work 1000% better. I learned volumes from critiquing their work too. It's helped me read my own work with a fresh eye and to revise in a more confident and effective way. I also recommend having a handful of beta readers and writing buddies so you can get different views on what's working or not working.
- My first novel. I was sure my first book would be the one, but oh how very wrong I was. I, like 99% of writers found out that my first attempt at a novel wasn't my best work. I wrote several drafts, queried, had agent feedback, revised, queried some more, then finally set it aside. That was over the course of a year, and though there were times I wondered if I could have done things differently, I realize now it was all part of the process. I write slower now. I think about my words before typing them. I outline. I send chapters as I write them to some of my readers. I take my big ideas and kick them down a notch.
There are more things I could ramble about, but I'd love to know what you guys think. Any advice on what's helped you improve?