This week's question is, how do you level up as a writer? And that's a really good question. For me, the big answer is by lifting EVERYONE up. The rising tide raises all boats.
That means being a mentor for up and coming authors. That means being a champion for new books when they come out. That means, when you're climbing over the wall, you reach back and take the hand of the person behind you.
So, I strive to do a few things: I try to treat every hopeful professional writer like the thing they are working on is the thing that will be their first sale. I try to treat every struggling professional like their next thing is their big breakout. I try to treat everyone I meet in this business like they are about to be the Next Big Thing.
To me, that's just common courtesy.
Now, I'm sure I've had moments where I've failed this metric. There's been plenty of times where I've been in my own head and not realized how my actions could be perceived. Trust, as the line from Twelfth Night goes, that it's something of my negligence, nothing of my purpose.
That's also why it's important to me to pay things forward. Things like teaching at workshops, or talking to prospective SFF writers at the Writers League of Texas Conference. These things matter.
Because nothing helps you level up better than helping others. So have at it.