Advice for writers:
Find little inspirations:
I just wrote a short poetic piece after using my now cigarette-flavoured (ugh) lip balm. I've written pieces after songs hit me in a certain way, when someone says something that makes me stop and think, after seeing something particuarly interesting. In short, inspiration can come from anywhere. If something triggers something in you, GET THAT FEELING OR IDEA WRITTEN DOWN SOMEWHERE. Scribble it in the back of your note book, save it on your phone, write it on the back of you hand or up your arm.
Keep all drafts of what you write:
Even if you re-read and decide you don't like part of it, copy that part into another document before re-writing. You might come back later and realise that some of that would work in well somewhere else, or phrases are better than you first thought.
Avoid using cliches as much as possible:
Use your imagination and come up with unique or new ways to describe things. It makes your work more original and more interesting to read, and potentially expand your vocabulary. Reading the same descriptions over and over in different stories get really old and can turn readers off.
Be consistent within pieces:
Don't randomly flip between first and second person, or past/present/future tense. There may be points where changing is appropriate, like at the end of chapters or the change of scenes, but try to avoid changing at every scene change or end of chapter, as it can confuse readers.
Use point of view appropriately:
You should write in third person (he, she, they, etc.) unless first person (I, we, etc.) offers a really strong, interesting view of your story.
Write from experience:
Writing about things you're familiar with is so much easier than things you know nothing about. It also adds realism, which helps readers to really connect with your story and characters. At the same time, don't allow your familiarity with a situation blur the lines of what should be there and what is actually there.
(on a related note) Do some research:
Learn about the topic you're writing about. This can be as simple as people-watching, learning mannerisms and habits of people, or as intense as sitting down and googling things like you would for an essay.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, USE SPELLCHECK AND LEARN GRAMMAR RULES.
Know the difference between their/they're/there, your/you're, than/then and when to use much vs. many, less vs. fewer. Start a new line every time someone new speaks and after they've finished speaking.
Don't get too obsessed with speech tags:
'Said' is fine. If every line of dialogue is marked with 'questioned', 'exclaimed', 'asked', 'yelled', 'mentioned', 'noted', etc., it detracts from what is actually being said and the context around it.
'Story' and 'plot' are different things:
The story of a piece is all events without causality or linkage. Plot is the events with how they interlink and how one event cause or influence another. If you've ever asked a young child about their day, they will rattle off a list of things they did and saw; for example,
I went to school and did art and had recess and played in the mud and Miss Lewis got mad and drew a picture and climbed a tree and got told off and fell over and my pants ripped and mum yelled and....
This is the story of their day. An older child will be able to tell you what they did with how the events caused or influenced each other,
'I went to school and had art class. At recess, I played in the mud and got dirty, which my teacher got mad at me for. I had to draw a picture of why we shouldn't play in the mud. At lunch I climbed a tree and fell after the teacher yelled at me, ripping my pants on the ground. When I got home, mum yelled at me for being dirty and tearing my pants.