All I know for sure is that I know nothing. Although I've been a writer/editor for almost 20 years, I still feel like a neophyte. Each time I begin a story (or even a blog), I'm never quite sure I can make it good enough for anyone to want to read it. But, I do love writing and I can't imagine my life without it. Since I'm in the middle of the second draft of my novel, I want to share my ups and downs and what I'm learning about publishing along my journey.
I've never had a novel published, but I have had many short stories and articles published. Since it's easier to get a shorter piece of work published - start there. Write those short stories or articles and send them out. The wait for an answer is usually a long one, so be prolific and send out your work as often as you can. Soon, you will have a steady stream of answers. It's important to have these small successes because they keep you going. They feed your hunger and provide motivation. As well, it's always great to be able to say "I'm published."
Don't worry about the rejections - they will come. Wear them like a badge of honor. We all have them and sometimes you'll find an editor nice enough to let you know what needs fixing. I learn from rejections and in a twisted kind of way, I'm thankful for them.
So, one of the things I've learned is write, write and write some more and send your work out into the world. There's nothing like receiving an acceptance letter.
Check out this absolutely wonderful resource for writers looking for a market for their work http://www.duotrope.com/index.aspx - and it's free!