Finding-writing-mentors

How to Find a Writing Mentor

By on October 03, 2014 . Category Column

A big part of going pro in your writing is getting in touch with other writers regularly. There’s another level of this, that goes beyond simply connecting with fellow authors, though, and that is getting yourself a writing mentor.

A mentor is someone who’s done what you’re trying to do and achieved what you’re hoping to achieve, and can offer guidance, wisdom, support, and—when necessary—some tough love to keep pushing you forward.

Having a mentor is invaluable. They will keep you accountable like no other. They will push you and encourage you in just the way you need. They understand what you’re doing better than anyone else, because they’ve done it, too. In fact, they’ve been to the other side of it. While your other writer friends understand your plight, most of them are in the trenches with you. A mentor has been there, done that, and while they might still write, they have experience that is going to be so helpful it might actually make your head explode (which is admittedly not helpful when trying to finish and publish a book, but hey, we do what we must).

Not everyone is going to feel like they want or even need a mentor, but for some, it’s a fantastic way to learn, grow, and flourish as a writer.

So…how do you actually get a writing mentor?

Simple: Ask.

Okay, maybe that’s not the only step, but it is pretty easy to get a writing mentor.

Here are the steps I’d recommend:

 

Find Authors You Admire

Follow them on Twitter and Facebook, read their blogs, read their books, and read/watch interviews with them to see what their outlooks and attitudes are. This is great for getting a feel for their personality and deciding who would mesh well with you.

 

Start a Dialogue

Just talk to them. They’re human beings, and despite what you might have convinced yourself of, they’re actually no different from you, they’re just a little farther along their writing journey than you are. Think of them like someone who’s hiked a difficult trail that you also want to hike. You’re both equipped to do it, it’s just that they already had their learning experience, while you’re still in yours.

(And keep in mind, they probably have a mentor still, who’s even farther ahead of them!)

So just talk. Ask them about their books, discuss characters, share things. Make sure you’re not being too attentive, as that might earn you creepy internet stalker status, but most people appreciate those who admire and enjoy their work, so just be genuine and friendly, and you can develop a nice rapport with them.

 

Ask

Once you’ve developed a bit of a relationship—at least as much as “I’m not a totally random fan to them” status—go ahead and ask. Don’t be discouraged if they turn down your request; they might be insanely busy, or they might not feel qualified to be a mentor yet.

This is why it’s advisable to have more than one person in mind. Keep searching. Finding a mentor is a little like finding an agent or a publisher, so it’s great practice if that’s what you’re planning to do eventually. Even if you’re going to self-publish, a mentor will be a valuable asset, and the act of reaching out will build strength, confidence, and professionalism that will serve you will, no matter what you’re doing.

 

Who’s your literary idol? Who would be your dream mentor?

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