His advice was this:
Don't read new books.
Don't watch movies.
He was quite serious. His theory was that going to movies and reading all the new pulp fiction around is a highway to having no original ideas left, because movies and books will fill your head with their ideas and writing styles and ways of doing things.
I mean no disrespect to him, but I think that theory is absolute bull.
I plan to read as much and as widely as I can. Not only classics (I think he approved of classics. He brought Nietzsche to class and read us chapters out of it. With effort, I stayed awake: not everyone else did), but new books; old books; in-between books. I want to read other authors' debuts, and established authors' series. I want to immerse myself in YA fantasy — no doubt a dangerous choice, since that's what I want to write and the potential for plagiarism is endless — but because that's what I want to write, and I want to see how others do it and the language they speak, the tools they use, the imagery they portray.
I plan to watch every movie that appeals to me; that is based on a book I love or a true story that intrigues; every cute little rom-com that sounds like it might have that extra spice of wit or intelligence — and this despite the probability that opportunity for plagiarism abounds.
Other ideas inspire my own.
My ideas and this lecturer's very seldom meshed. I learned only one thing from him that I did think was good advice, and that was when another girl in the class complained that her characters' actions "never seemed believable". He gazed at her in astonishment.
"What are these characters? They are words. They don't exist except in words. If your characters aren't acting in a way that's believable, that's because you aren't making the words believable."
OK, I can't remember his exact phrasing, but it was something like that.
I've often heard writers complaining that their characters won't behave, and I think that's a good thing: that shows your characters have life. But you need to be able to control your characters' actions — to change the words to make that believable for who they are. You can make anything believable, with the right words.