Having a writing mentor—or becoming one!—can bring a multitude of benefits to your writing career. But not all mentors are created equal. Whether you’re an experienced writer who’s thinking about guiding the career of a newbie writer, or you’re a fledgling writer looking for a knowledgeable author to help you hone your craft, it’s important to know what skills and abilities the best mentors have. We’ve got some ideas!
Key Traits Of Great Writing Mentors
Open-mindedness. A good mentor does not have to agree with the content of a piece of writing to admit that it is well done. Mentors should encourage writers to find their voice—not try to overpower it.
Willingness to learn and grow. A great mentor will be willing to keep abreast of the latest publishing industry trends so as to offer useful feedback and guidance. A mentor should encourage his or her protégés to take risks in order to grow—and not be overly critical or hold them back by insisting on stale writing techniques.
Values and expresses interest in the mentor-mentee relationship. A mentor must be approachable and easy to contact. He or she should be committed to the writing relationship and look forward to discussing the protégé’s writing—positive energy is contagious! And a writing mentor should readily share publishing networking opportunities with his or her mentee.
Understanding. Creating superb writing is difficult. It’s easy for an author to get discouraged when dealing with a bad case of writer’s block or after a harsh critique. A good, insightful writing mentor will empathize and offer advice or a shoulder to cry on.
Communication skills. A writing mentor should foster a collaborative partnership that allows for the exchanging of ideas. In this supportive environment, a good idea could evolve into a great idea during a brainstorming session between mentor and mentee. A smart mentor asks questions: What works here? What doesn’t? Why? Then the mentor should be ready to challenge ideas, offer constructive criticism, and—most importantly—listen.
Drinks coffee or tea. Because what’s better than discussing writing over a nice, hot cup of coffee or tea? As the French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac once said, “Were it not for coffee one could not write, which is to say one could not live.”
Here’s how to find a writing mentor!