Mentoring can be a shortcut to learn what you need to know about writing for corporations. Let’s face it, learning from the pain and embarrassment of someone else’s mistakes is much more comfortable than making those same mistakes yourself.
Nobody likes to make a mistake, but I think we all agree that some mistakes are inevitable. A writing mentor can keep you from making the worst mistakes and guide you through the rest.
Where Can I Find a Mentor?
You may be thinking, “This sounds great, but how can I find a mentor?”
Finding a writing mentor is easier than you might think. Here are five places to look for mentoring:
- Hire a writing coach–Many experienced professional writers offer coaching services in addition to their writing services. While these services can be pricey (especially for a new writer), the high price is deceptive. If you choose your writing coach wisely, the lessons that you learn will save you a lot of grief and ensure that you are earning to your full potential.
- Join a professional society–If you’ve been reading my posts here for a while, you know that I am a big fan of professional writing societies. But, I have a really good reason for being a fan. Not only do societies offer benefits like training classes and job banks–they also provide the opportunity to network with writers at all stages of their career.
- Take a writing class–Even if you are not a full-time student, you may be able to benefit from taking a writing class. The professor’s comments and feedback on your work can provide you with invaluable insights. Be sure to match the specific class that you take with the type of writing that you want to do.
- Accept a full-time job–If you get the opportunity to work in the writing department of a medium to large company, you may find that your boss or a more senior writer is willing to act as mentor. After all, helping you get up to speed helps the whole department. Later, you will take those skills to your freelancing business.
- Find a writing friend–Peer mentoring can be a great way to learn new things. Partnering with a writing friend and providing constructive criticism to each other can be mutually beneficial. Often, a peer will be able to see flaws in your work that are not apparent to you.
More About Mentors
Mentoring programs are popular because they work. Some companies even take the extra step of assigning a mentor to each new employee. Unfortunately, freelance writers often miss out on the benefits of mentoring.
Here are some additional resources on the benefits of mentoring for writers:
- From Jules Clancy at Write to Done, One is a Lonely Number – Why You Need a Writing Mentor
- From Dave Navarro at Copyblogger, How To Get Great Copywriters to Mentor You For Free
- From Sharon Hurley Hall at Get Paid to Write Online, Develop Your Writing Career With A Mentor
How Mentors Helped Me Become a Better Writer
I’ve personally benefited from mentoring at least twice during my writing career. Early on, when I was a staff writer at a corporation, there was another (more senior) writer there who spent a great deal of time teaching, encouraging, and inspiring me.
Much later, after I had started to do some freelance blogging, an experienced blogger who I met through an online forum made the time to answer my many questions.
There’s no doubt in my mind that working with mentors has made me a better writer.
Do you have a mentor? Have you acted as a mentor for someone?