A friend recently asked how to find a writing mentor.
Yeah, I’d like one, too!
One of my graduate classes was on mentoring, albeit focused on Millennials and spirituality. The principles I learned, however, apply to any type of mentoring, for almost any age.
The reality is those good mentors are hard to find. The best-qualified ones don’t usually have time to mentor, whereas the people with time often have less to offer. Expertise and availability usually exist in inverse proportion.
Instead of just waiting for someone to offer to mentor you, here are seven ideas:
1. Look at Existing Relationships
If you have a connection with an author you respect, ask if he or she is willing to consider being your mentor. But don’t make this person feel obligated; provide the space for him or her to say “no.”
2. Form New Relationships
Network with other writers and see what develops. However, don’t approach this with an agenda; if you do, you will fail. Instead, seek to help others, give to others, encourage others, and support others. You may catch the attention of a potential mentor who will approach you. And even if that doesn’t happen you will learn, grow, and feel good about yourself in the process.
3. Be Patient and Pray
Yes, I said to pray that someone will offer to mentor you. I could have said “wait and hope,” but prayer is so much more effective and maybe your best option.
4. Consider Peer Mentoring
You can seek a peer mentoring relationship, where two writers help each other. There is strength in traveling the writing path with a friend. If one of you falls down, the other can pick you up.
5. Offer to be a Mentor
Often when we give to others, what we receive back is more valuable.
6. Use Books
Books allow mentoring at a distance, be it over space or time. Of course, the information is one-way and more general, but this may be the only way to receive guidance from a famous author.
7. Respect the Process
If you find a mentor, honor his or her commitment to you: prepare for each meeting, take diligent notes, follow through on every suggestion, be easy to work with, and seek tangible ways to give back. Also, always arrive early and never cancel.
If you don’t have a mentor, what are your thoughts on finding one?
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.