Not romance. At least not today.
I read a great blog the other day and just had to share (“The Smartest Writing Advice I Ever Got,” found over at the Seekerville blog). I love blogs like this, with tidbits from various authors about the secrets to their success and/or what they’ve learned from years in the trenches.
The blog made me think quite a bit. I’ve been lucky to know so many writers who have shared their ups and downs in this tough profession. It’s difficult to choose one piece of advice that stands out from the rest. But after much contemplation, I have to say the best advice I’ve received on writing is to take readers’ opinions (whether contest judges, CPs, book reviewers, family, or friends) as exactly that—just opinions, good or bad. I’m not including agents and editors here because that’s a different scenario.
Like most writers, I'm sincere in keeping an open mind to suggestions that could make my writing better. Still, there’s a tendency to cling to my original ideas, style, and delivery, because my work is, after all, MY work. I've tried to develop a good filter when receiving feedback—to know what to listen to and what to discard—but some days walking that fine line can be tedious ...to considering others’ ideas without compromising my original vision. Tweaking paragraphs here or there is no problem. Anyone who has written long enough can do this with relative ease. But those major revisions? The suggestions that could potentially change the entire story? Yeah, gives you a knot in your stomach just to think about, doesn’t it?
After editing my work and others' for so many years, I would think I should have more of a gut instinct about revisions. I don't. Not yet. I still torture myself for days, even weeks, when contemplating revision suggestions. When to let go or when to hold on. Ugh. It's enough to make a writer crazy.
So tell me, how do YOU know whether to use or dump a big revision suggestion? What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?