You can check out parts 1 and 2 here and here, respectively.
5. There are many ways to skin this cat, and none of them are more "right" than any other.
This is a biggie for people. People love to pin their flag on some method that got them published, or recognized or paid, and say that they're method is the "best" or "right" and that by extension, all the other methods (the ones known and unknown to them) are wrong or bad.
And that's not true. There are now so many methods, so many paths people can follow to get their writing dreams realized (I should point out here that every writer, regardless of what they write does have that dream to get their work into the hands of interested and excited readers), that no path that accomplishes the dream is wrong.
Are some easier than others? Yes.
But don't confuse 'easier' with 'better'. It may be easier for me to pay someone to shovel my driveway in the winter, but I have a snowblower sitting in my garage that I bought for that exact job, so why wouldn't I use it?
Go the 'traditional' route and get an agent and a publisher. Go launch your stuff directly off your website. Put it out on Kindles, Nooks and tablets. Print it in chapbooks and on the back of napkins individually numbered for collectors.
The bottom line is this -- Do whatever you can to get your work into the hands of the people who want it. Get your work out there, by any means necessary. Just don't hurt others on your rise to the top - this is my crafty disclaimer - don't be a jerk about it, don't be a douchebag, and for the love all that is good in the world, don't ever forget what's important to you as you try and get published, whether that's family or friends or the future or...your dog. Show love and respect and you'll be rewarded. I promise.
6. Don't you ever quit.
This is hard. Writing may be an easy task, but to produce the art and craft of it, that's difficult. It can be stressful. It can be upsetting. It can aggravating as you encounter and learn from your mistakes. You may hear some feedback that you don't want to hear. You may have to make some choices and accept some truths that don't always make you a happy camper. You may want to throw your hands up. You may put down the pen and paper for months or years at a time because somebody somewhere said something that just stuck in your mind. You may feel so overwhelmed that you decide you're better off taking up knitting.
Don't do it.
Don't give up.
Not because some guy on the internet says so. Not because all the books in your library say so.
Don't quit because you don't want to let yourself down.
Here's the quote from Richard Bach - "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."
It may feel (or may actually turn out to be true) that lots of external people and forces line up against you, keeping you from getting your work out. Don't quit.
It may feel like there's so many other books out there that are EXACTLY like yours, and you can think of no reason why someone would take your book over the one next to it. Don't quit.
It may feel like there's some giant knot in your head that just stops the words from flowing. Don't quit.
This is what you wanted to do, isn't it? This is how you've elected to demonstrate your talent, your brilliance and your creative soul, yes?
Then why wouldn't you stick it out?
If you feel the need to do it for external reasons. You can always #doitforbuttons (I realize I'll have to explain that later, maybe I will tomorrow on Google+) or do it for Johnny, but always, and above all else, DO IT.
You can get support. There are loads of writers, editors, friends, new friends, enthusiasts, experts, people, children, wives, future wives, sports nuts, comedians, postal employees, strippers, farmers, spiritualists, life coaches and chiropractors who absolutely support you.
You can improve your skills. You can take classes. Hire professionals to teach you. Sit in on writing groups. (I will always advocate talking to someone over book experience alone...but I can recommend a lot of books to augment those improvements.)
Like Andy Dufresne says 'Hope is a good thing', and I hope you realize how important it is not to quit.
Don't quit. It will be worth it.
Having said all that....let's move forward maybe a little talk about some technique...