Being a writer isn’t as easy as it seems. As a matter of fact, it can be pretty tough at times.
Writing isn’t just about spinning an exciting tale.
There’s a whole bunch more that goes into it. From building your author brand, creating a website, marketing, publishing, etc… There’s just a lot of work. And when you’re starting out it can be quite overwhelming and discouraging.
Many writers have given up based on this alone.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes all you need is a little guidance. You know, a push in the right direction. And that’s where writing mentors come into play.
A writing mentor is that one person that you can look to for sound, solid advice when it comes to your writing. And I highly recommend that every writer get one.
Why are mentors so important?
Whether you’re just starting out or a veteran in the game, having a mentor you can turn to is very important.
Writing mentors can provide a huge cornucopia of knowledge that you need to succeed. Normally, your mentor will be more experienced than you and give you great insights on your writing, projects, and career.
But their knowledge and insight isn’t even their most desired quality. In fact, the best thing to come from a mentor is inspiration and encouragement. Good mentors have a way of motivating you to be better. But be forewarned, with this encouragement is probably going to come a lot of tough love.
A great mentor will often define boundaries that you can’t bring yourself to set. For example, you may really love your book cover design because a good friend designed it for free. But that cover design–although made with love–could be hurting your book sales. And you may be too close to the issue to actually make the change. A good mentor will tell you straight and help you adjust whether you like it or not.
And it doesn’t stop there. These are just a few reasons why having a mentor is so important.
How do you know who’s the right mentor for you?
Determining who’s the right mentor isn’t about figuring out your mentor. It’s all about figuring out yourself.
Do you struggle with grammar and style? Or is your weakness book marketing?
You need to determine your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing. The best way to do this is to list them all out. Create a visual interpretation–spreadsheet, goal board, or a simple list.
The main column you need to focus on is your weaknesses. What areas are you lacking in? An ideal mentor for you should be exceptionally proficient in these skills. This way you can continuously better yourself.
Also, just like when applying or hiring for a job, there needs to be the right “culture fit”. If you’re consistently butting heads with your mentor, you probably need a new one. It’s okay to disagree, but if your mentor becomes a chore…You’ve probably found someone that’s just not compatible with you.
But there are many mentors out there waiting! So don’t get too discouraged if you don’t find the right one straight away.
Where can you find the perfect writing mentor?
If you’ve been in the writing scene any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve already met them.
Sometimes the best mentors are those more experienced writers closest to you.
But if you’re brand new to the scene or aren’t too close to anyone, don’t fret. There are tons of places you can find the right mentor for you.
Writing conferences and conventions are a great place to start. Here you’ll be able to associate with more writers within your genre and subject area. And you may already have someone you look up to there at the convention.
Social media is another awesome avenue to take when looking for a mentor. Follow an author’s Facebook page and ask questions there. You might just find that you want to keep picking their brain. And that could mean that they’re a good mentor candidate. Even forums on NaNoWriMo have specific threads for those seeking mentorship and vice versa.
What to do with your mentor now that you’ve found them?
If you’ve properly determined what you need in a mentor, finding the right one isn’t too difficult. The tricky part lies in knowing just what to do with a mentor.
The first step to a good relationship with your mentor is to be open and honest. There’s no sense in hiding anything from them. They’re only there to help.
Next, get curious. Ask questions! That’s the whole point. A mentor isn’t there to hold your hand every step of the way. They aren’t there to write your books or edit or create design elements. But they can help guide you. And the only way they can do that is if you ask questions.
And remember, a mentorship goes both ways. It’s often stated that the best way to learn is to teach. Give back if you can as well. There may just be something that you help your mentor with. So do it! It could strengthen the bond between the two of you and allow for better discussion down the line.