Do you still grow and improve with each book you write? You should. Each book should improve your storytelling skills. Every time you stretch those plot muscles, they should get stronger. Every time you get edits back marking the same things over and over, you should learn and adapt so you don’t make those same mistakes in the next book. Why? Because that’s part of learning your craft.
Athletes at professional levels still work out to stay at the peak of their game. Writers should too. This is common sense. You don’t lie back and rest on your laurels because you published a book. You push through and see where your weaknesses are and strengthen them. Push through the pain. Grow stronger.
Because if you want to really make a career for yourself as a writer, this is what you do. Look at Stephen King. Carrie was good, yes, but his later work was better. Why? Because he kept at it. He grew. I love to listen to his talks on writing because he’s not only entertaining, he gives good advice. He’s honest about what it takes. Now his character development is second nature. It just happens because he put in the work early on. You can do that too if you put in the work. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice to hone those skills.
If you just churn out your stories without improving, they’ll all be the same. Would you rather have a body of work that remains at one level or one that shows your growth and depth as a writer? I know what my answer would be.
Take the advice of your editors, your beta readers, your publishers. Sift through them and find the true faults in your writing. Don’t let yourself be too sensitive… be honest with yourself. Find those faults and correct them. Practice. Take workshops or use exercises from books to help with those issues. Write your next book. Are there fewer issues?
So practice. Write. Grow. Improve. Each story should be better crafted than the one before. Each plot point meticulously placed. Each character deftly drawn. Each setting meaningful and poignant. Each scene memorable. You’ll get there if you work at it.