Last week, I finished reading Stephen King's On Writing (see Goal 2). It's a good book, especially when he finishes drossing on about his childhood and gets into the nitty gritty about writing novels. I found many words of advice and encouragement within the 200 odd pages. They were all very refreshing and encouraging.
Some statements conflict with my course, which was interesting. For example, my writing course spends time on the importance of plotting a novel. King has thoughts on this, paraphrased slightly: "Plot is the last resort for a great writer and the first for a dullard." I enjoyed this comment and I will talk about it a bit more when I hit the planning stage of my novel. (Just to caveat King's comment; he also says, "Plot is not important, but story is.")
I'm slightly off the topic here, though. Another beauty from the words of The King is the following paraphrased statement (I'll give it it's own line here):
"Read lots and lots. Do not expect to become a good writer, if you are not, first and foremost, a prolific reader."
Reading helps the writer identify what works and more importantly, what doesn't. Style, method and description skills can be learnt and refined through reading. Always good for determining what's hot at the moment too and what's been done before. A writer can learn a lot from reading - which is a good thing - I love reading!
Goal 4 : Read as much as possible, both in fiction and non-fiction, across different genres. Read, read, read!!!