A writing mentor can help you jumpstart your freelance writing career. But, like any other resource, a writing mentor will help you the most if you approach your mentoring resource wisely.
An experienced writing counselor can often provide that valuable second opinion that so many of us want about our decisions and our writing.
Using the wrong mentor, or approaching your mentor ineffectively, could mean that mentoring won’t be as beneficial to your writing career as you had hoped.
Nine Tips for Mentees
Are you a mentee? Do you have a writing mentor already? If so, this post should help you make the most of the mentoring experience.
Here are nine tips for mentees:
- Choose the right writing advisor for you. Writing is one of those umbrella professions. There are many different types of professional writers and not all of them have the same knowledge or skill set. Try to find someone in a writing field that is close to the one that you wish to pursue.
- Understand up front what your writing counselor is offering. Will they be coaching you on your writing skills, discussing freelance business strategies, or providing both types of advice? When (and how often) will the mentor be available? It is particularly important to nail down these details if you are paying a professional writing coach to act as your writing role model.
- Phrase your questions carefully. The more specific you are with your questions, the better your advisor will be able to help you. The very vague “something’s wrong with my writing business” is less likely to result in a helpful response as “I don’t understand why my clients always pay me late.”
- Be honest. Presumably, your mentor is someone that you admire (or will come to admire), so there is a very real temptation to gloss over your problems in an attempt to impress your chosen counselor. Don’t do it. He or she is committed to your future success, but they can only help you if they fully understand your situation (and that includes all of the problems that you are having).
- Be open to new ideas and even constructive criticism. A good writing teacher may have to tell you some things that you don’t wish to hear. Remember that it’s for your own good. Give those new ideas and that constructive criticism a fair chance. You’ll be better for it in the long run.
- Follow through. Don’t just absorb feedback. Remember, you’re more than just a sponge. Take positive steps to actively apply the concepts and ideas from your mentor to your freelance writing. Schedule some personal time to review the information your writing counselor has given you.
- Remember that your writing mentor is human. Be respectful of his or her time. Ask what the best method is for making contact–some advisors may prefer email over face-to-face meetings or phone calls. For others, the opposite may be true.
- Let your writing coach know how well his or her ideas worked. One of the most rewarding parts of being a mentor is watching the success of those who you help. Make sure to give your own writing advisor feedback on how their advice helped you become a better writer. This will also help your mentor improve their mentoring skills.
- Don’t forget to say “thank-you.” Not only is it polite, it’s also the right thing to do if your mentor has been helpful to you.
Next week, I’ll talk about how to be a good mentor.
In the meantime, share your thoughts. Do you have a writing mentor? If so, how did you select them?
Are you a writing mentor? What advice would you offer to would-be mentees?