I'm an unashamed online courseaholic and an avid reader of books and blogs about writing craft, but the thing I've learnt most from - is writing.
I'm a natural panster (write without a synopsis or plan, just go for it), and find that this method works for me. That's not to say I don't plot, but not usually until I've got some way into the story first - I define turning points in the story and write towards them.
But before I learnt anything about writing, I wrote. And reading back over these early attempts, they ain't half bad. Okay, there's too many characters. And my earlier manuscripts rambled all over the place, in an unfocused manner. But the first thing I had to learn was that I could write a full size manuscript. Before I wrote it, I didn't know that I could.
After I wrote my first book, I learned about POV. That was a bit of a revelation, I was head hopping all over the place. Then I learned about conflict. I was pretty good naturally about external conflict, but internal conflict was something I hadn't even really thought about. I had to learn it. And seeing the lack of it in my writing was the perfect lesson!
I know lots of writers build boards of pictures, but this doesn't work for me. Instead, I will find a picture and use that to help keep a location clear in my mind and for inspiration. As I write more, my way of writing has changed, I now focus on each scene - does it have a purpose? If it doesn't, its reworked till it does, or culled.
So the thought I'd like to leave everyone with today is that you don't have to know the rules to write. You just need to dive in and write something. Once you've done that, you can rewrite it, see the gaps, learn the things that are lacking, and fix it.
The trick is to start - for once you've completed that first manuscript, whatever its faults, you are a writer. And if you're determined, the rest will follow!