Two things I've learned from Nicola and the group and the experience:
When writing, you must:
1. Be faithful to the terrible truth, the deepest part of you, the hardest things. And once you've found that, torn it out of you, dripped and shoved and splashed it on the page...
2. Do the work. Don't take the easy paths -- take the hard ones. I could fill this space with lovely metaphors, but it all comes down to doing the work.