There's been some chatter around the blogosphere recently regarding honing one's craft and what specifically that takes.
I've mentioned before that I have a BA in fiction writing. But in all seriousness, I learned more about writing, the business and the nuts and bolts of everything from blogs (and some excellent writing books) than I did in my BA.
Let me 'splain. No, is too much. Let me sum up (NEVER GETS OLD).
I had a lot of fun earning my BA. The best thing about all my advanced fiction classes (and the few post grad classes I was approved to take) was the workshopping. Sure, we had to read some essays and articles on how to write, but almost all of my classes involved writing junk in class, then sharing and getting feedback or crits. I learned A LOT about how to crit and workshop in college (especially in that grad class, which was AWESOME). But I can honestly say, no teacher ever said "Show don't tell" or "don't use adjectives or adverbs" or any of the other important rules (though I did have one teacher who let us help her choose the cover for her most recent book and that was super fun)
Those rules came to me in books on writing.
When I started blog surfing over a year ago, that's when I really started to understand aspects of craft that I had only flirted with before.
I remember Simon had a post and examples on the "Show don't tell" rule that was just genius. It was the first time anyone had ever shown how to follow that rule (a bit ironic, yes? That we're always told and never shown how to Show, Don't tell)(it turns out I was doing it right all along. But it was good to know)
Before Query Shark I had no real clue what a query was. Yes I would have researched it if the time came, but knowing about how to craft a successful query helps me in my writing to narrow down the conflict of the novel ahead of time.
I certainly think you can benefit quite a bit from taking classes. Not to mention the people you can meet.
But if money's an issue for you (and it typically is for me) or if you're super introverted, you can improve your craft by using the lovely interwebs and books all by yourself.
Does that make sense? Yes? Good.
The key is to make the attempt to improve. If you're serious about improving, you'll find a way to do it, no matter your means.
How have you improved your craft?