Read and write every day:
Stephen King put it best when he said that a good writer should read every day and write every day. When I became serious about making myself into an author, I knew that this advice would be crucial to my development and success. Since dedicating my free time to developing my writing, I spend at least one hour every day reading and writing.
What kinds of books should you read? It's simple. Read books by the authors that inspire you. Read the types of genres that you wish to write. Don't waste your time reading amateur writing. I am a firm believer that you are what you read.
What should you write? If you aren't quite ready to dive into writing a full novel, start small. Create a blog or write short stories. You can even start a private journal where you record your thoughts and feelings. Any type of writing will help you improve, so long as you are putting forth your best effort.
How will you find the extra time in the day? Prioritize, plan, and prepare. Chances are, you aren't nearly as busy as you think you are. Replace that hour of television with a book or wake up an hour early in the morning to write. Ask yourself, "How baldy do I want to become an author? Is this just a phase I'm going through, or is it a deep-rooted desire?" If the answer is the later, you will make sacrifices and find the time to practice your craft.
Record your ideas:
I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Never take a good idea for granted. When interesting ideas come to mind, always record them in a safe place. You never know when they might come in handy. For me, the smallest bits of information have branched into complete stories. Even if the idea sounds silly, you could be grateful you wrote it down later.
Pay attention to human interaction:
This habit has always come quite naturally to me, but it is one that anyone can develop. If you're at a party, work meeting, the mall, or in a restaurant, observe the way that people act. How do different people move their hands when they talk? How do their faces react while others are speaking? What types of slang or speech patterns do different people use? The list goes on and on. Pay attention to these details and jot down (or type a note in your smartphone) the things that you find interesting. These small human quirks and interactions will make your writing more genuine and believable.
Think like a writer:
Many times when I see something, hear something, or meet someone that is interesting to me, I mentally practice how I might put it into writing. Perhaps I saw a sunset over the tops of some distant mountains. I might say to myself, "The golden sun sunk below the towering mountains and painted the evening sky with vibrant purples and pinks as it slowly melted into a star-scattered darkness." Now obviously, this is quite a mouthful, and might be a bit over the top, but the more you practice these extravagant descriptions, the easier describing things will become. Try to think of an adjective to describe every noun and do your best to make it flow. There is no need to do this while you are actually writing, as it will sound far too wordy, but it is a great mental exercise and will mold your mind into naturally thinking outside the box.
Expand your vocabulary:
Without the proper vocabulary, even the best writing will be dull. While reading, make lists of words you are unfamiliar with and look up the definitions. Keep a list of these words in your smartphone or notebook and review them often. You will be very pleased when one of them comes in handy.