Years and years ago (more of them now than I'd care to admit), I took a University level course in Creative Writing alongside my other school studies. I remember e-mailing my tutor who I'd become quite close to at the conclusion of the course, asking if he had any advise for me going forward. He sent me a long list of books about the art of writing and told me to keep writing, every chance I got. I still have that e-mail but I have to admit that I never read any of those books. Regardless, flattering as my tutor was, my writing is leagues better now than it was back then. I think having a place like RPGFO/The Collective has certainly helped in providing me with people I love writing and creating with, as well as encouraging me to keep those writing gears well oiled. Not to mention, having encountered fantastic writer's here over the years who have driven me to try harder, to push myself to keep up with their level of talent.
Perhaps most importantly though, and this takes me back to my high school English teacher who made a really conscientious student cry when she told her "You work harder than any other person in this class and it must be frustrating for you to keep getting the same mediocre grades when others who try hardly at all are getting straight As. Unfortunately, writing comes naturally to some, usually those who read a great deal as children and if you haven't got it... well, you haven't got it." She was an awful teacher - one of those types who adored the naturally and obviously gifted (those she'd taught previously most of all) and ignored everyone else. Having never had her until my last two years and being one of the largely ignored, I took great pleasure in telling her that I'd absolutely destroyed her two favourite students in the aforementioned course... ANYWAY, I digress. Teaching skills aside, there was some grain in truth in what she was tactlessly trying to convey. As far as I'm concerned, nothing benefits writing, both the technical and creative aspects, as much as reading. The more I read, the wider the range of books I read, the better my ideas become, the more readily those ideas come to me and the better the overall results when I write. In my personal experience, reading for pleasure does far more for writing ability than studying books designed to tell you how to write ever could.
Of course... that's just one person's experience. So what I would like to know is what do you think makes you a better writer?