In this post, I'll answer the first half. The best writing advice I've received isn't limited to just a single piece of advice. I know that may be cheating, but I'm sticking with it.
Over the years, I've heard many different writers explain how they write their first drafts. Some outline incessantly, some just start writing; some start with character, others with scene, others with an idea; there's three-act structure, five-act structure, seven-point structure, and the snowflake method. In fact, there seems to be as many different ways of writing the first draft as there are writers.
And this is my advice: Write, write, write and if you run into a roadblock try something else and keep writing. The only way to write a book is to write it. One word at a time. Line after line. Page after page.
Here are a few great quotes I like that relate to this advice.
"The first draft is for what you want to say, the next draft is for how you want to say it."
"Writing is like lumber. In the first draft you cut down as many trees as you can. Then in the next draft you trim them to useful boards."Each of these quotes helped kick me into gear to finish a draft, and in the end isn't that what drafting is all about.
Question: What is the best writing advice you've been given?
* The wonderful image created by the trial can be found on Flickr.