How to become a better writer?
A big question I've been struggling with over the last few weeks. After attending Donald Maass' excellent High Tension Workshop, I worked to use what I learned. But working with my w.i.p. turned out to be difficult. It's a novel. It's long. It's complicated. It seemed like I was adding yet another couple of layers of complexity as I had to be consciously adding what I'd learned. It had yet to become subconscious. This felt overwhelming.
Until I figured out that I needed to "step out" of my w.i.p. and practice what I learned on a short story. Less emotional attachment, much, much shorter, and I picked a story that was character driven instead of plot driven to use the new tools. This helped, considerably.
Attending workshops, classes and conferences is only one part of honing a craft. Then figuring out ways to APPLY what you've learned is the second part of becoming a better writer.
What do you do to improve as a writer?