There are three important things to keep in mind every time you brew: Preparation, Sanitation, and Good Record Keeping. Good preparation prevents nasty surprises. You don't want to be halfway through your brewing and realize that you don't have any yeast. You don't want to pour good wort into a fermentor that you forgot to clean. Cleaning and Sanitizing are part of your preparation but are the most important factors for assuring a successful batch of beer. During an interview at a very successful brewpub, the head brewer told me, "Good brewing is 75% cleaning." And I believe it. Lastly, there are two types of brewers- lucky and consistent. The lucky brewer will sometimes produce an outstanding batch of beer, but just as often one that is not. He brews from the seat-of-his-pants, innovating and experimenting with mixed results. The consistent brewer has more outstanding batches than poor ones. He may be an innovator and an experimenter, the difference is that he takes note of what he did and how much he did of it so that he can always learn from his results. Good record keeping will make the difference between luck and skill.