I heard this at a workshop and try to follow the advice. Particularly when writing a fast paced mystery it is useful. Events have to culminate and if it is in that corner, it is amazing what new ways the characters come up with to get out of that corner. The idea sounds daunting but it works.
Someone will always be further along the path to success, whatever that means. It doesn't matter what stage of writing you are in, if you compare yourself, you are wasting energy you need to write. Just keep plugging away at your projects. Get them finished. I was at the Willamette Writers conference this past weekend. If I compare myself to the success stories there, I could get very depressed. So I don't. I congratulate them and keep writing, learning and stretching.
In the days when I thought I wanted to be a romance writer I went to a conference and signed up for a group pitch with an agent. We went around the circle giving the elevator pitch about our books. The agent asked one woman what she read in the genre. The response was, "I don't read romance." The agent was literally speechless. I read extensively, fiction and non-fiction. Mysteries are my favorite and I have favorite authors. I like ones with a lot of dialogue like Robert B. Parker, because I find that when I read a book, I'm look for the story in the dialogue. I glaze over with long passages of description. Other people read differently, of course, but if you aren't reading lots of novels, I wonder how you are going to write a novel.
Before you start telling other people how to write a novel, make sure you finish at least one. I cannot tell you how many conferences and workshops I have attended that are peopled with writer wannabees. I usually ask people at these what they are writing. Often, it is the same novel that they've been writing for ten years and haven't finished or they TELL me the idea for a novel they want to write but haven't written yet. A novel is black words on white paper, not some story in one's head. Jane Kirkpatrick in one of her newsletters said that only 1% of the people who say they are going to write a novel ever do.
Even before you've finished the book, you should be following what is happening in the publishing world,and in your genre specifically. Accomplish this through membership in writers groups and attending conferences where you can meet and network with other writers. Don't write in a vacuum. Do your homework even before the book is finished.
After a while you'll see a cadence developing in your work. This is what is called voice. My voice is lots of dialogue intersperse with a sentence or two of description of character and landscape. Then layered on with the character's head thoughts where we get into Point of View. The cadence or rhythm of the book is something to maintained and not lost or toyed with. Each book has its own cadence.
I don't outline a book. I start with an idea and get to writing. Every one hundred pages I go back and re-write, seeing what I've written, pulling through the words with a comb, straightening out plot, embellishing description and characters. It works for me. By page two hundred, if I'm writing a 300 page book, the story should be heading for a climax because I only have 100 words to finish it satisfactorily. That's when the reader sighs and says, "What a great book. I don't want it to end."
I'm a serious writer, meaning I have a regular daily writing habit, and I'm interested in sharing my work through publication. My favorite literary form is the novel. I write to entertain myself and my readers.