When I began training in the martial arts, one of the first things I had to learn and accept was that I had to trust my teacher. I didn’t know what was expected of me, and I certainly didn’t believe that I could do any of it. But my teacher thought I could learn to spar, and to do a form, and to break a board, and my teacher was right.
In the same way, as a writer I’ve had to learn to trust my teachers. This doesn’t mean I give up using my own judgment, or that you should give up yours: when an agent answers your query letter by saying, “I think I can sell your book if you give me $3,000 to edit it,” some caution is prudent. But when an agent answers your query letter by saying, “This proposal would be more effective if you approached the project from a different point of view,” maybe you should think about approaching the project from a different point of view.
Trust is scary, I know: writers, especially beginners, are easily exploited because they don’t know the rules. So educating yourself is key. Begin with small things and if the teacher proves trustworthy in those small things, be willing to take greater risks. Mostly, though, you need a willingness to listen. The next time a teacher in your life says to you, “Why don=t you do . . . X?” follow the teacher=s advice – go to that writers= workshop, take a class, submit your poem to a journal. The worst risk you’re taking is that you might lose some time and money, and your ego might get skinned a bit. But often your teacher knows that you=re ready for the next step or the next challenge, when you=re still a little unsure of yourself. Trust the teacher, follow her suggestions, let your abilities grow and unfold.