As I work through edits on my next project ("Next project!?" you say. Why yes. You know me, idle hands and all that) I'm thrilled to finally not fear the copy edit process. This last project actually had a notation in regards to his (my editor) fear of becoming obsolete. Of course, he was kidding, in part. I will always need and editor because two sets of eyes are better than one and I'm too close to be objective.
What he meant was, I'm not making the same mistakes I made with prior manuscripts. The things he told me not to do in the edits of the prior books, I have not repeated. Partially it's because I'm a perfectionist and once someone tells me of an error that I'm making, I work hard to correct it and never do it again. Another reason though is that to me the editing process is not just a means to an end, it's an opportunity to learn and improve my writing skills. If a writer goes slow enough, takes the editing notes to heart, and truly listens, they can improve just from the editing process alone.
To take it even further (because the perfectionist in me will not rest) I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to learn. Sometimes it's an excellent book on the craft of writing and sometimes it's a trusted mentor or teacher. The bottom line is, if you always strive to improve, you will. And eventually, there will be nothing standing in your way of success.
This year's (and every year, honestly) must read book on writing is The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White.
How about you? What do you do to keep improving?