When writing a book, I am obsessed by the quality of my own writing. I agonize over choice of words, apposite phrases, clever ways to convey what I want to say. When a reader reads a book they don't want to see any of that - they want to hear the story. They want the author to be transparent. This is why we are urged to use the word "said" for our speech attributions - a word that is neutral, invisible. As soon as we say "retorted" or "quipped" or (heaven help us) "declaimed", then we are pointing at ourselves with the "look at me I'm a writer" finger. The more the writer gets in the way of the story, the less involved in the reality of the story the reader will be.
Likewise, too many adverbs or exclamation marks make the writer suddenly appear at the reader's shoulder as convincer -
e.g "Shut up!" he said crossly.
instead of, "Shut up," he said.
The writer is trying to force the reader to understand what they have probably already understood - thus making another unwanted appearance.
Too many similes or metaphors also point to our own cleverness, and can bring the reader up short.
eg Writer : "The water was black as treacle."
Reader: "Black as treacle? Is treacle black? What does she mean?"
Hey presto, the writer is muscling in again.
A lot of the knack of transparency is scrupulous awareness. If you are particularly proud of a phrase, view it with suspicion! It is probably a phrase where you are showing off, and therefore putting yourself between the reader and the page. Awareness for a writer is about being able to put yourself in the reader's seat and having the courage to remove your cleverness in favour of the truth of the story.
Many writers think that if they give up pointing at themselves they will lose their own unique voice. This is not so, as your voice will be there even more strongly if you get your ego out of the way of it.
This idea applies as much to life as it does to creativity.
For looking at this topic from a writer's perspective, the writer Dorothea Brande, (whose book, "Becoming a Writer" has been a classic for the inward journey since the 1930's) has another work, "Wake up and live!" available for free as a pdf here:
Although a little dated, it has some excellent ideas about how to succeed creatively.
As some people know, I am a great promoter of meditation in all its forms - here is a nice post by the writer Orna Ross on the benefits of meditation and awareness for writers: http://janefriedman.com/2012/01/02/meditation-increases-creativity/
And on a completely different topic, for anyone interested, my post on 17th Century Garden Design for Women is over at the English Historical Fiction Authors site. And you can win a copy of The Lady's Slipper at Brits United. (Until 5th April)