Here is some recent writing advice I gave to an aspiring writer:
Be a reader and writer. Write and Read. Lots and Lots.
Go to courses, read books on writing (like Stephen King's On Writing), visit writing festivals and listen to people who are doing it.
Enter as many competitions as you can (and don't worry about not getting placed - it's the discipline that helps improve your craft.) I wrote this on my T.K. Roxborogh Facebook author's page just the other day: "just as doctors say all exercise is exercise (vacuuming, walking the dog) and it improves your health, I say the same with writing: ALL writing improves your craft - so long as you take care with it. FB posts, emails, assignments, poetry, prose - the same rules apply: take care with the details, be clear about what you want to say so that others understand you. Select the best words. Read your work aloud (even emails!) Be like someone who never leaves the house without lippy (or a tie). Whenever you're presenting yourself (through your words) to the public, run a comb through your hair, check your reflection in the mirror and put on tidy clothes (metaphorically speaking.)"
Get involved in writing groups/ volunteer at libraries and festivals. Get to know other writers and get INTO the world of writing and publishing. Make friends. Always be nice becausee you never know who might remember you at just the right time.
The biggest setbacks during the journey to becoming a successful author are:
Self doubt which can be paralysing. All writers get it no matter how good they are and how many awards they've won.
Arrogance - the belief that one cannot learn something or an unwillingness to shape a work to make it better. Young, aspiring writers need to keep their ears open and their mouths shut. For a long time. (but asking questions is good)
Not enough time.
Being in too much of a hurry to get a work out before it's had enough time to 'cook'