Writer’s Digest, March 2005 article, Mistakes that can kill your Writing Career, provided suggestions I have taken to heart. See if any are helpful for you:
6. Writing is a fulltime job and an excuse to avoid reading. Read all the time whether personal choices, book club reads, or new authors from your genre. Not only will reading enhance your vocabulary, you will keep fresh. Choose whatever interests you, but don’t stop reading.
7. Submit your queries in a professional manner: no glitter, confetti or Day Glo envelopes. If you have clips from local newspapers, mention those—but don’t include them.
8. Clichés and vague writing are killers. Texting and Facebook have reduced vocabulary to acronyms and pieces of sentences — handy for those media but lazy writing for a professional.
9. Have confidence in your submissions but avoid self-aggrandizing by comparing yourself to a bestselling author even if you know in your heart you are “that” good.
10. I heard somewhere (thank you, Larry Brooks) that well selected back story must advance the plot. Why is it included in your chapter? If the inclusion is essential to advancing your story, is the placement timely? Are you revealing too much too soon?
To sum up the advice most meaningful to me: Use ACTION verbs instead of forms of “to be.” What does my reader gain from reading my novel, article, or short story? How are characters “transformed?” Do readers want to read more of your work? Ahhh— continue striving, fellow writers.