"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"
Doubt yourself at first. Revel for a time in inferiority. That place of humility will place you directly under folks who can help you. Listen to critics. Take everything in. Read your work to friends and dare to hear their feedback. Humbly work through the notes they give you.
There will come a day, though, when that initial advice must be discarded for this: Rejoice in your voice. It'll come like a whisper. You're writing a poignant scene where you've successfully tapped into a deeper emotion, and you know. You KNOW. You know you've found your voice. From that point on, critics will offer their criticisms. Because, hopefully, you've cultivated humility, you'll listen kindly. But then you'll have the confidence you lacked before to discard anything that messes with your voice.
So start without confidence, working toward confidence, and throw a party when you've nailed your voice.
--Mary DeMuth is the author of two novels, with three more on the way. (Catch her next release, Daisy Chain, here). She's passionate about mentoring writers through her new endeavor, The Writing Spa (http://www.thewritingspa.com)