A critical notion that goes along with this: The only meaningful things we can say about SF as a genre tend to be about the way in which the way of reading that is SF differs from the way of reading that is poetry, say, or the way of reading that is naturalistic fiction, or the way of reading that is philosophy; or we can point out similarities shared between the way of readings that is SF and other ways of reading. Both are pursuable lines of study because what affects these ways of reading is specific and material: publishing policies, printing conventions, economic situations, sociological and historical events, readerly and writerly responses, educational contexts—as well as, of course, semantic conventions. Alerting people to the ways material forces contour the way of reading that is SF is a good deal of what my critical project—as far as it entails SF—has been about.
My advice to anyone starting out in school, or since school, is to always have a notebook with you—it can be whatever size, whether you want it to fit in your pocket or be in your bag—and to write and draw things that occur to you as they occur to you. And then leave that notebook alone for a long time, and don’t go back and look at those pages—even preferably a few years later when you have to struggle to remember what it was about. I think that process of coming back to things you wrote, or did, or thought in a few years time is tremendously productive. It allows you to see a part of your own subconscious that you won’t see in the moment. but it will make sense in a few years time.