1. Be born into a family where a sibling also wants to become a writer. This will build in both sounding board and competition.
2. Spend a lot of your childhood indoors reading.
3. Have language be as sensual in your mouth as someone's finger or a piece of fruit or a honeycomb.
4. Ignore the well-meant advice from the poet who takes off his sandals during your personal manuscript consultation and remarks how some people find it valuable just to write for themselves. (Never think this is what your students want.)
5. Read everything more than once. Well, maybe not stop signs or billboards.
6. Weep sometimes (but in private).
7. Recognize your empty-head time as a valuable resource (swimming, vacuuming, driving to work).
8. Take notes.
9. Find a community or several. Form your own retreat or writing group. Belong to more than one group. Attend readings and buy local books.
10. Don't stop.