At last week's Connecticut appearance, author Ellen Hopkins was asked for advice for people starting out in writing.
Right off the bat, she offered the same suggestion Roger Sutton did in a recent blog post--read. But she went on to say "read widely across genres." Don't stick to your favorite kind of reading material. There's something to be gained from exposure to different types of writing. On top of that, she advised writing in different genres before settling on the type of writing you're going to do.
She also said everyone should be careful to backup or maintain copies of their work. Which...yes.