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Is Mentoring Right For You?

September 28th, 2018

First, thanks to Diane for last week’s post – it just shows how successful your writing career can be, even without an agent. But it also demonstrates how much hard work you have to be prepared to put in if you want to achieve your goals. It’s never going to be easy!

Many writers get to the point where they know they’re good, they’ve had a modicum of success but they are aware that they’re still ‘not quite there’. And it’s at this point that you might want to consider mentoring.  This involves working with a professional writer on a one-to-one basis with the focus completely on yourself and your work. This might sound selfish, but sometimes it’s the only way to go if you really want to take a step forward in your writing career.

You may feel that the feedback you get from family and friends, or even a writing group, is no longer helping and that only an experienced writer can wholly appreciate the ups and downs of the writing process. Only someone who has practical experience can help you sort out any problems with your writing or make objective – and trustworthy – suggestions for improvement. You need someone who is unflinchingly honest and can be specific in their criticism. It’s essential that you respect your mentor as a person and as a writer – but it also helps if you like them and are on the same wavelength.

But it’s not an easy step to take. You have to decide first whether you have the confidence to share your work with a professional and having done this whether you can accept, digest and act on any constructive criticism they may make. You’ve got to actively listen to the feedback and then implement it – otherwise you are wasting both your time and your money. You can’t afford to be precious about your work.

Mentoring isn’t cheap, but as well as deciding whether you can afford it in financial terms you also have to decide whether you can afford the time. In most mentoring relationships you send a piece of work to your mentor for consideration and then meet face-to-face or on skype to discuss it.  But it’s not just about that hour-long session. You need to factor in lots of additional thinking, writing and revising time if you are to get the most from the experience. And there’s no guarantee that you’ll be a published writer at the end of it. Most mentoring programmes are clear about this! But what does usually happen is that you come away from the experience as a better and more confident writer, at the very least. Taking on board what I’ve just said, you’ll realise that you do need the support of your family if you are to make it work.

If you feel that this might be a way forward for you (many writers I’ve spoken to say that they got more out of a mentoring programme than doing an MA), how do you go about finding a mentor? There are people and organisations advertising on the internet, but before you sign up check them out thoroughly and ensure that the people they are using really have a good track record as both a writer and a mentor. One place to start is the NAWE (The National Association of Writers in Education) who have a professional directory of writers willing to speak in schools, run courses and act as mentors. Here at Writers Bureau we also have a professional mentoring  scheme called Writers’ One-to-One – we’d be happy to send you details if you get in touch.

My guest next week is Writers Bureau student Lynn Florkiewicz, who’ll be giving you her five most important “must do’s” before you publish anything.

Author: Diana Nadin




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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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