Writing about real stuff that really concerned me brought out my craft. If you're writing a story about, 'Is Lois Lane gonna figure out that Superman is Clark Kent?' - it's really hard to get involved in that on anything other than a craft level. And I'm not gonna put down craftsmanship; it is a noble enough thing to have made a table that you can pound on and it doesn't fall down. But occasionally, we might have an assignment that engages some other parts of ourselves, and those tend to be the good stories.
"Best in the world," "lowest price in existence, " etc are at best claiming the expected. But superlative of that sort are usually damaging. They suggestion looseness of expression, a tendency to exaggerate, a careless truth. They lead readers to discount all the statements that you make
We want to be famous as a writer, as a poet, as a painter, as a politician, as a singer, or what you will. Why? Because we really don't love what we are doing. If you loved to sing, or to paint, or to write poems, if you really loved it you would not be concerned with whether you are famous or not.
I also liked it when professors assigned us stories that they love. In general, I liked workshops more when they were more than just a workshop, when the professor took the time to actually guide us as young writers and teach us things it took them a long time to figure out on their own. I could probably write ten pages on this question.
My own view is simply that there are some very basic rules; very simple rules that apply to all writing in a way, which is: don't lie; if you're wrong, correct; do not misrepresent; and try and keep oneself intellectually honest - which means, as a writer, the very difficult task in public of admitting you were wrong.
You didn't plan to write a story; it just happened. Well, it could be argued that the next thing you should do is find a hole to dig. Right? So you start digging a hole and then somebody brings a body along and puts it in. That's what a story must feel like to me. It's not that you say, "I want to write a story about a gravedigger. " But you're walking along and "I don't know what I'm doing here in this story,' and - boop! a shovel. "Oh, interesting. Ok, what does one do with a shovel? Digs a hole. Why? I don't know yet. Dig the hole! Oh, look a body. "
Some writers find that they don't know their themes until they've finished the first draft (I am one). They then rewrite with an eye toward balancing on that tightrope: not too contrived, not too rambling; does what I'm saying about the world below me actually add up to anything? Other writers pay attention to these things as they write the first draft. Either way, an awareness of the macro and micro levels of theme can provide one more tool for thinking about what you should write, and how.