Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we didn't. -Erica Jong
Don't I know it! Up until my late 20s (yes, I know not that long ago, but stay with me lol) my life consisted of more 'wrong' turns than 'right'. I spent a lot of money attending a private university for a degree that I didn't plan on using (working three jobs at the same time to pay for it nonetheless). My choice of relationships?...well, let's just say I'm on my third marriage at age 33, so maybe not so great. And my resume reads like the employment section on Kijiji. I have seriously held thirty-four different jobs since I was fifteen. Do I regret any of it? Not one thing because I believe each wrong turn was simply a detour to discover some amazing things about myself and others as I struggled to find the right path to happiness (which started with the birth of my beautiful son.)
However, looking back (which I rarely do, I'm a firm believer in living life in the moment and not dwelling on the past), I see one commonality in all of my 'mistakes'. I knew they were mistakes but did them anyway. And I remember every time asking my family and friends their 'advice'. And then I promptly ignored it lol.
So, why ask if I wasn't going to listen? I'm stubborn and headstrong and like to be in control and do things my way. Simple.
When I first started writing, the same principles applied. I wrote safe, sticking within the realm of predictability and comfort. No wonder those manuscripts are still sitting in a desk drawer waiting to be rewritten. Then I started listening to the advice that I'd solicited and not surprisingly, things changed. The manuscripts got stronger and I was pushed past my own comfort zone-in a good way.
Readers want a story they can't predict from beginning to end. They want us to create impossible situations for our characters and lose countless hours of sleep trying to figure out a way to end the book with a HEA. And they want characters that they can love...or hate.
As writers we often know the direction we should take with a book-the one that will surprise readers, keep them reading long past midnight, but it's sometimes terrifying to go that way. Our critique partners tell us what they think, beta readers give honest feedback, but still we hesitate to take a chance on what we know will be a great story.
As was the case in my personal life, I think the same holds true for writing-we are sometimes afraid of the unknown or taking the risk or admitting that the path we were on wasn't the right one.
But, I think if we can learn to trust our instincts on our stories, we will succeed with these new, exciting twists and plotlines, because readers are craving them!
The best advice I received recently (and actually listened to) was from the beautiful and talented Victoria Curran who told me 'Trust yourself.' So, I do. Sure, self doubt sometimes rears it's ugly head, but I punch it in the face and continue writing:)
So, what advice have you been given in your writing career that has helped you succeed?