1.Shooting yourself in the fucking head is a quicker and easier way for you to get lots and lots of attention, if that's what you're after. Personally, I have a deep fear of attention... so I am keeping a gun handy.
2.Read the posts on WritersNet. There is some good advice on that site, and plenty of people post samples of their writing there, which is bound to make you feel really good about yourself... especially because the worst of them just never seem to give up and shoot themselves in the head. (Smith NEVER posts samples of his work on the web... well, except for those couple lines on Ghost Medicine ... and blogs don't count as writing.) Lots of playground-like genital comparison goes on at that site, too (yawn), which is why I've only answered questions a handful of times there. Also, Flogging the Quill is a great site to get a decent idea of what grabs -- and irks -- an editor. Better writing samples there, too.
3.Get a coach. I have three of them: my agent, my editor, and my great friend Kel. I picked my agent (she was #1 on my list) from Jeff Herman's guidebook. I picked her based on her reputation, her background in literature, the agency she is associated with, and the genres she likes to rep. Since I knew she would be right for me, I valued her advice and suggestions. She worked with me for a LONG time in cleaning and tightening up my manuscript, which showed me that she believed in me, and, together, we put out a piece of property that caught the eye of several editors. My editor is hands-down one of the coolest and most talented people I know. Even a nose piercing or Maori facial tattoo couldn't make her cooler. And, next to her, everything I'd ever heard about editors is WRONG. She never cut anything out of my book... she kept asking me to add things I had cut from earlier drafts. She never told me to change anything... she just asked if I thought her ideas worked. And of course I did... she's brilliant... even though her ideas were little more than word substitutions. Oh, and she hates the word "flinch," which I used several times in my original manuscript. I don't think it's in the final version at all... I'll have to do a word scan and see. And, finally, my best friend Kel has been involved in writing ever since we were in high school together and worked on the newspaper, a Stalinist propaganda vehicle to promote uniformity and loyalty among the student masses.
When I decided to send one of my novels out into the world to get published, it was Kel who supported and advised me, and who frequently told me when my shit was shitty, and writers need someone like that at all times.
Happy 2008 (the year of Ghost Medicine).