Well, not exactly.
In the scheme of things, I'm still pretty much a newbie, too. Yes, I've had the good fortune to have a few more experiences than someone who's just starting out, and I'm more than happy to share what I've learned in my journey.
So I mumbled something to that effect, but the person wasn't entirely satisfied with my response. "What, then," they asked, "was the best piece of advice you received when you were starting out?"
Ooh. That's a tough one. But it did make me reflect on the kind of information I was seeking out when I was new to the whole writing thing.
Mostly, I think, I wanted to know the "how". Not so much technically how you write a book (but that too) but more logistically and practically. What do authors actually DO? How long do they spend at the computer? How many words do they write a day? How many books do they write a year?
I listened intently to the stories of other authors, the confessions of their routines and struggles and approaches.
The ONLY way to write a book, I learned, was to sit down and plot it all out on note cards and pin them to the wall. But no, the ONLY way to write a book, I was then told, was to let it grow organically and not kill the life of the story with a too-structured plan.
Hmm. I was already realising that there might be more than one ONLY way to write a book.
I remember being told, frequently, that it was an absolute crime to re-read your work from the day before when you begin writing for the day. You must NEVER re-read, you must get straight into writing the new material. Editing is for after.
Then I read that Susan Elisabeth Phillips reads her ENTIRE book from the start before she starts writing each day. (I'm still spun out about that.)
I read Stephen King's book On Writing and for a short while thought I'd be famous in no time, because his habits were the closest I'd heard/read to my own. That . . . ah . . . didn't quite happen. (Yet.) But it was reassuring to read that such a successful author approached the task of writing in a similar way to me.
So what have I learned? What advice do I pass on when asked? I have boiled it down to two tidbits:
1. Ignore anyone who says NEVER and ONLY. They're wrong.
2. Ignore item 1. There is ONLY one right way for you to write a book, and that's the way that works for you.
If pressed, I could add a number three. (Because stuff like this is always better in threes.)
3. Read and learn from others, take inspiration from them. Keep what works, discard what doesn't. Keep reading and learning. Repeat.
Hmm. I don't think there's a craft book in that. Well, not a very long one, anyway. :)