Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mentor a Writer

One of the best ways I know of to increase your writing skills and to help someone with their own is to mentor them.

I began mentoring about a year ago, and with that choice I have discovered some surprising things not only about others but about myself.

Here they are in no particular order:

1. When you mentor, you have to be open to listen. It isn't enough to spout off what you know, you must listen and learn where the writer is at and have the courage to start from where they're at.

Photo by: US Department of Education, courtesy of Flickr

2. Whether you choose to offer your mentoring services for free or for a fee is your decision. You may have had a mentor who mentored you and now you are paying it forward, or you may decide to start a business where the mentoring comes with a price tag. Whatever you decide, know the writer comes before anything else--that means the money you might be making, the kudos you might be receiving both vocal and silent, and the new clients you might receive because of what you do.

If your primary concern is to help the writer to be successful and they get that, they will be successful.

3. You may get some feedback such as, "Slow down, you're moving too fast with this concept," or "I don't understand. Explain it again." The writer you are mentoring may even say, "I'm not so sure we're going in the right direction. Can we try this?" As a mentor, you need to be open to the feelings of the writer. After all, they know themselves better than you do.

4. It's important as a mentor to know when to let the writer move forward in his/her life. There comes a time when you've shared what you know and they've applied it. They may find that it's time to break away for a season or for good--and that doesn't necessarily mean that you did a horrible job. It may mean that they are standing on their own two feet, a good thing if they ever hope to become a successful writer.

5. Mentoring another writer also gives you experience in editing. I don't know about you, but editing is a difficult procedure, especially when you're editing your own work. Allow the writer to help you polish this skill.

Above all, have fun. As a mentor you develop new friendships; new connections that may continue for years to come. There is a special connection, sometimes spiritual, sometimes emotional that occurs between a client and his/her mentor, a connection that can never be erased.

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