There's a lot to write about, now that I've started to relate some of my experiences. Where to begin....
The way I started out writing was probably pretty common. Like many pale denizens of the MMORPG scene, I am an avid World of Warcraft fan (shhhh). I had played for maybe a year before thoughts of RP began entering my head (RP means "role playing"), just something to make the grind of leveling yet another character to max level less boring. All these ideas suddenly sprung into my head about my character: backstory, setting, internal conflicts, and so on. I began to write as feverishly as a five year-old girl colors a picture of a pony pink, typing away at my phone (yes, I did begin my first project on a touch screen cell phone) on lunch breaks. When I say feverishly, I mean feverishly.
I think I wrote nearly 10k words on that phone before moving to a computer. Anyway, I quickly became dissatisfied with the limits World of Warcraft placed on story and the magic system (it is very hard to write within someone else's world, as I'm sure Brandon Sanderson can attest to), and soon converted the (bilge) story (complete bilge) to one of my own creation.
Now, this had advantages and disadvantages. Being a complete amateur, I had no experience building anything, let alone an entire world. World of Warcraft's setting provided a good foundation. However, like I related above, it also severely limited my own creative scope (something that, I believe, led to my eventual murder of this project. Yes. I murdered it like the neighborhood ginger murders ants).
I wrote in this book (the working title was Alletta's Story. I was actually too afraid to name it. Writers can suffer from crippling self doubt at times, and I'm no exception.) for over a year, racking up 75k words (roughly 300 pages depending on which book you use for an example). I poured my sweat and tears (no blood that I know of) into the story, spending hours not only writing, but thinking; developing magic and cities, forests and characters. Dozens of names for dozens of characters, numerous magical terms and mechanics, descriptions of floor plans and beards (yes, I like to have beards in my stories) filled my head at all times. It was wonderful.
It was also crap.
Ok, maybe not all crap, but so much about this baby of mine screamed like a demon, and I couldn't see it. Flaws abounded, not just in the material, but in me, the writer. I was so inexperienced (still am, dang it) and untried. Many of the ways I went about writing were fundamentally flawed. Not only that, but I had yet to realize anything about myself. I had no idea that I was a gardener (a writer who grows their story, as opposed to an outliner), and not an outliner. I outlined the crap out of that book. Maps and indexes, pages and pages of character details and world history. Looking back, none of that really worked for me.
I was in over my head, and I knew it. I began seeking knowledge, listening hungrily to anything that would help guide me through the murky swamp of inexperience. I found several amazing resources, namely Writing Excuses, and Terribleminds. Writing Excuses is a podcast put on by Brandon Sanderson (The Way of Kings), Howard Taylor (Schlock Mercenary), and Dan Wells (The John Cleaver Series). The podcast deals with all the questions writers have, presented in an interesting and enjoyable fashion, and I highly recommend it. Go look it up. Really. Click the link. You will become a better writer.
Terribleminds is a recent find, a blog run by penmonkey Chuck Wendig, a genuine Crazy Beard-man. The man is a genius, and if you can make it through the craziness and vulgarity (who am I kidding, that's half the reason I skulk around his place) he has some truly amazing insights into writing. He also has some books for sale. Check out Terribleminds now.
Back to the topic, I was over my head, but over time, I began to recognize my weaknesses, and evaluate how to best improve on them. It was a long, painful process, and it never really stopped, but eventually I reached the point where I knew I had to move on. Armed with Knowledge Bullets and Machine Guns of Resolve given to me by Writing Excuses, I made the decision to move on, and begin anew.
But that's another post.