The best advice isn't always immediately realized. Sometimes little snippets stick with you and lurk in the back of your mind. It can take time for good advice to float to the top while the rest sinks down to some murky pit in the bottom of the ocean.
The Best Writing Advice
I've always been a reader, but since I started writing, I've read double the number of books I usually do in six months. My reading is focused. I'm looking for specific types of stories and subjects. I pay attention to what I like in books, like main characters with flaws, a story that takes the unexpected path rather than being completely predictable, and fun dialogue. I love stories that make me forget about the writing so I can completely dissolve into the lives of the characters.
2. Read widely
If you're a writer, it's important to read in the genre you write, but there's value in reading outside it. I need to read YA to see the trends (plus, I like it!) But picking up a book that's completely different, like for me a contemporary romance, has showed me how good writing and engaging stories transcend genre. Even non-fiction can be inspiring.
3. Listen to stories
I'm a fan of audio books. I wouldn't read nearly as many books if I didn't use my commute time during the week to listen to stories. Hearing a book read is a different experience than reading on the page. The best case scenario is a great narrator who adds an additional element to the story, bringing it to life. Worst case, the narrator's accent or speech pattern is disruptive, or it highlights weak writing. It's almost easier to tell "bad" writing in an audio book because you hear it said and can't skim over the words.
4. Life is too short to wear ugly shoes
OK, this has nothing to do with writing. It may sound shallow, but think about the larger scope. Why would anyone want to wear ugly shoes? Probably because they are comfortable, and people love their comfort. A few years ago at my desk at work I looked down at my sensible loafers and realized they were atrocious. Scuffed and dirty, they were probably the most boring shoe on the planet. That night I threw them away and vowed to only wear shoes I wasn't ashamed to be seen in. I wear a lot of low heels which are just as comfortable as the nasty loafers. Dressing well makes me feel put together and confident. And while it might be a stretch to say this, writer's often lack confidence, and anything creating more confidence has to be a winning move!
What's the best advice you've been given?