That was the best advice given to me by a friend. He told me this years ago when I was very confused with all of the advice being directed at me from more knowledgeable people. Funny how something so simple can be used for…everything in your life: Take what you need, leave what you don’t need.
When I got serious in July 2010 and decided to seek publication, I followed every piece of advice out there. Yes, hah. I kept thinking, “they’re the experts, not me. I’m just some newbie trying to navigate the path to publication.”
During a workshop, when the instructor gasped at my draft that had everything but the kitchen sink stuffed in it (thanks to all of the workshops, craft blog posts, etc. that I applied to my MS), this person told me to step back. Whoa nelly. What are you doing? “Eh, I’m following everything that I’ve learned so far. LOL.”
It was a turning point for me, because even the instructor was offering me advice on how to improve the MS. Some of it was very good, and some of it just did not do a thing for what I wrote, which left me even more confused.
I consulted a great lady I think of as a mentor. She helped me sort through the mess.
What did I learn? I don’t need to follow every single piece of advice out there. It all goes back to good ol’ Bob and his, “Take what you need…”
How am I feeling now? More confident about the piece I’m editing. I still like to learn and read advice, but now I’ve taught myself to only take what I need, and thank the person for his/her contribution.
It’s what I tell writers who I crit or beta-read for: I’m just one person of many who’ll review your work, so take what you need and toss what you don’t. You’re the author of this story, not me.
It’s a fine line of what to take. I go with my gut instinct. Always have and always will.