Mr. PitifulToday's Tune:
This is the very best, truest writing advice I've been given and will probably ever be able to give: Listen to your own truth, but don't block out everyone else's.
Like all of the other writing advice blog posts out there in Writerland, this one has been repeated over, and over, and over. And I'm repeating it again.
You are your own best judge of what you're trying to do with your words. You cannot possibly follow every rule and insider tidbit you're fed. It's not possible, because so many of them contradict one another. You have to figure out which writer ideals you admire most, and why. Study them. Understand what draws you to certain styles of writing. Then branch away and follow the letters wherever they lead you. This is your journey. No one can tell you how to walk or where to go or how long to try or if you should give up.
Do not become arrogant or bitter. Do not ignore the basic building blocks. Do not discount the advice of those who walked before you out of jealousy, or spite, or ego, or whatever. Listen. Always listen. Just because you listen doesn't mean you have to agree, but you should always know why you disagree. None of us are beyond learning. Not a single one of us. If you believe you are the most talented, that you need no guidance, that you already write on par with the greats before you? Then I hate to break this to you, but you are at the beginning. Not the end.
There is no "right way" here. There is no enemy, except perhaps ignorance. If you are always open to growth, always ready to listen, always willing to learn, then you will become better. And then you will become good. And then you will become great. And then you will become legendary.
Even if it's only to one person.
Even if it's only to yourself.
I think it is so, so desperately important to believe in yourself, your craft, and your voice. But I think in order to do that, to truly get to that place, you have to learn and remain open to learning. Knowledge never limits us. It only helps us understand.
So listen and decide for yourself.