I've been coming up with stories my whole life, growing up in literary circles, as my mother is an author and editor. So, as you can imagine, I read a lot of books, both with my mother and on my own. (I read through the complete unabridged Wizard of Oz series by myself in one summer when I was six.)
I joined my first professional critique group when I was eight; I was told I'd be welcome to join, but they'd expect me to accept the same unvarnished feedback that any grown-up member would get, and to read their work and provide the same sort of honest feedback. So, I did.
When writing professionally, you really learn that nothing you write is sacred. Even the sentence you think is the most brilliant, or the quote you think must surely be worthy of Bartlett's Quotations, might actually need to get cut from the book. Most people are okay coming up with words; the art of writing is largely in getting rid of words.
From there, I just kept writing, participating in critique groups and countless writing workshops, and honing my craft.
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