Here is a visualization from a syllabus for a writing workshop posted by novelist Luke Geddes. (I found it via Matt Bell, who said it “might be most of what you need to know.”)
I think it speaks for itself, but here’s a batch of quotes to back it up from a previous post of mine, “What to leave in and what to leave out”:
David Mamet, in Three Uses Of The Knife:
I used to say that a good writer throws out the stuff that everybody else keeps. But an even better test occurs to me: perhaps a good writer keeps the stuff everybody else throws out.
Peter Turchi told me when he’s teaching writing workshops, he’s careful not to try to “fix” a student’s story too quickly:
[W]e have to recognize that the thing that looks most flawed, might, in fact, be the most interesting thing in the work. So we’re not looking for the thing that functions best, because to do that is to only reward the most conventional and most familiar moves the work makes. But to try to recognize the thing that excites us the most, or intrigues us the most, which may be something the writer doesn’t even understand.
(We spoke about this more, and his vision for writing workshops in this interview.)
Finally, from another angle, here’s Jean Cocteau:
Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don’t like — then cultivate it. That’s the only part of your work that’s individual and worth keeping.