Nugget #1: READ

Because I am a wildly successful published author, I decided the universe would spin out of control unless I doled out my writing advice on a not-so-consistent-serial basis. All that to say, I'm announcing my newest blog feature (okay, really my blog doesn't have any features, so this is really the first and only feature). Without further ado, I give you...
nug·get [nuhg-it]
1. a lump of something.
2. unsolicited in nature, in reference to advice.
3. at times misguided but well-meaning, in reference to advice from Julie.
4. a bite-size piece of chicken, fish, etc., usually batter-fried.
2012; unofficial writing advice, in the form of a blog entry. At times suspicious.  

Nugget #1:
READ. Read, read, read, read.
When I first started dabbling with writing (years and years ago when my first manuscript was just a molecule of a thought) I googled (yes, googled) writing advice and you want to know what I found out? If you are not a reader, you cannot be an effective writer. The best writers (and this even applies to stupid term paper writing) are veracious readers. This is true because when you are reading, not only are you digesting the plot and the characters, but you are also (without even realizing it) studying the mechanics of writing- pacing, character development, style, etc. It's all there, all the secrets are right there at your local library. 
And don't just go out and read about how to write and what the market looks like (that stuff is great and good, but secondarily important). Read authors who write the way you want to write, because ultimately those guys are doing something right. Read authors whose stories you get lost in. When I finished my first manuscript it was really hard for me to get into the rhythm of reading for pleasure again, because I got it. I had been on the inside and I finally got how a story worked. And for just a little while (a very little while) this took away the magic of reading for me, but then I read something new that took my breath away and I was so kindly reminded that I do not have all the answers and thankfully I never will.
So there's my nugget, my very first nugget: READ.