I'm currently (after another hiatus) reading Charlie Stross' blog and his "Books I Will Not Write" series... and it's bloody awesome. There are several things highlighted for me (and these ring true for other authors who I admire greatly, namely Iain M Banks and William Gibson);
a) the thought processes involved. There is a vast amount of thinking that goes on here and it is more than evident in every single facet of the process and outputs.
b) general and specific knowledge. These guys are hugely interested in 'stuff'. The world itself (including humanity) acts as a massive resource, not only for research, creativity and general gumpfery but as something to be explored and understood and extrapolated. Both CS and WG have very particular and yet wide ranging interests and these are self-evident in the stories they write.
c) creativity. There is a vast amount of experimentation and creativity here. Ideas are conceived, thought about, pulled together with other ideas, twisted, discarded, stored, reborn, written, rewritten, developed and transformed.
d) work ethic. It never stops, it is always in action, even when inactivity abounds, something is percolating away, somewhere.
e) progression. You can chart the progression (in fact CS does so quite openly here) of the author's skills and the increasing maturity of their creative process, sometimes through the books they write but also through the backgrounds and whys and wherefores. And particularly, in this case, through the why nots.
f) work ethic. Yes, its there, again. And a lesson that needs to be learnt and understood (for me).
g) self belief and humour. There is a large element of self belief and confidence in the skills on display and the knowledge at hand, but an acknowledgement that there is always more to do and more to learn. And a lot of humour, both outward and inward.
I am thoroughly enjoying reading CS' blog and this series in particular, it is giving me insights into the creative process and the act of writing that I need to think about, apply and enact, in my own particular way.
Go and read.