The more research I do into the writing and freelance business, the more information I'm bombarded with. It's really incredible how much I can pull up on the computer that is applicable to what I need to know today and can use right away. I'm astounded that there can be such a wealth of information and still writers who send out random queries or manuscripts without an ounce of knowledge as to who their audience is and what they require.
Having said all that, the more I research and listen to other writers, the more I see that there are no rules. Well, there are rules, but they're more like common sense things--find out a publisher's genres and submission guidelines before you query, don't just show up on an agent's doorstep with a manuscript--act like a professional, etc. But there are also rules out there that writing books tell you to follow that people break all the time and are still successful. For example, there is no perfect "process" to follow to writing a great novel--everyone has their own style. Also, queries should give the publisher/agent what they want, but you can break the format rules (renegade writer's blog says 1 page isn't necessary).
I believe every writer has their own style and way of doing things because we're creators. If all creators were the same and were inspired the same way, we'd all come up with similar creations. The uniqueness of a project comes from the individuality of the creator. There's something we can glean from every writer, but for me, it seems that the most valuable "advice" I find is hearing things other writers do that affirm what I've already discovered for myself. Earlier I posted some comments from Louis Sachar. Here's some new things I learned at the SCBWI monthly meeting from published author Ally Carter.
"Writing is like running an old hose. First the dead stuff and dirty water comes out. To get to the good water, you have to let it run. My first drafts are "dirty water" that I work on until the good stuff flows out."
"Contests are good to gauge when you're ready for querying an agent."
"My writing process is to start with the character and ask, 'What's the worst that could happen?'"
"It's (publishing) a small business."--that's actually very comforting to me because I don't feel like I have to conquer the giant; I just have to get my foot in the door.
"Don't get it right, get it written."--this isn't Ally's personal quote, she got it from somewhere else, but it's one of the mantras of my writing career right now.