(Side note before I start: I might add another post on Wednesdays. What will I add is the question.)
(Side note after I start: here in Dover, we have a Firefly Music Festival going on, and about 10 people are in each department at my job, so I'm just going to go ahead and blog and read. lol)
But anyway, having had worked on my fantasy novel The Crystal Bearer for close to 11 years now (wow, where'd the time go), I can now say that I've gained enough knowledge about the outs of writing. The ins change depending on you and that particular story. The outs, however, remain the same, and I couldn't say I learned them until maybe last week. Sometimes, things don't make sense until they do.
I was in college for half of the time I was writing my novel, so do you think I had time to network? Find AgentQueryConnect.com? Know there was a...actually, I don't think there even WAS a Twitter yet, so I definitely didn't know there was a writer's community on it! All I knew was that I would finish my novel, then I would send it to publishers.
Needless to say, that's no longer how it works. First off, no one's first draft is publishable. Geez, when I think back on mine, I shudder. I had TWO major overhauls, one where I cut scenes I loved, and one where I actually added scenes. I had to stop and think about what was important to the big picture, and what was just filler. I had to cut THOUSANDS of words, because I learned there is a desired word count among agents depending on the genre and target age group.
Secondly, if you never let anyone else outside of your house read it, you won't really know if your writing's actually any good. I had friends and family tell me for years that I was a good writer, but when I personally think back on my writing, I KNOW it was bad. lol I mean it could've been worse, but it was definitely eye-roll-worthy. So trying to publish before a stranger reads your work, so you have an idea of how your novel will be received, is testing it a little. The betas/CPs I've gone through were a big help, and the query critiques even more so!
So do what you can to learn any and everything you can about writing before you try to put yourself out there. You'll do better for it!