Scratch a writing community you will find thread after thread of people asking for the best advice you ever received on writing. I do not always contribute, but when I do I usually refer to Chuck Wendig’s suggestion that writers should finish shit; and my ratio of finished published works to unfinished published works would indicate it is key to my strategy. However, the most valuable advice I actually received was on the use of hair care products.
Several years ago Neil Gaiman was asked what the best advice he had received from another author was. He replied with a story about Clive Barker suggesting rubbing conditioner on stubble before shaving would produce a better result. Then stepped back from his joke, to give advice he had received on writing.
Although the advice he went on to re-share was sound, I think his first answer might be more valid. Like Barker and Gaiman, I have virile manly bristles. Since I started rubbing a little conditioner on them before shaving I have had a quicker shave with less irritation afterwards.
On the surface, this is not relevant to writing. But, I shave daily so even a small reduction in time spent gives me a significant amount of time over a year that can be spent either on writing, or even used to fit shaving into a narrow slot where I would not write anyway.
While reduced skin irritation does not add time to my schedule, with my productivity proportional to my immersion, it makes the time I have more productive.
Of course, Barker’s suggestion gives no benefit to people with finer bristles or who do not shave at all.
From which, I suggest two lessons:
limiting your advice to people in your field, talking explicitly about your field, misses the massive potential to find synergies.
the most helpful advice ever still only works if there is an analogous issue.
What advice has most helped you with writing? What is the most unusual reapplication of advice you have discovered?