My first writing mentor was Colin Thiele, even though he didn’t know it. I was in primary school and living in a small regional area in Queensland. We got the opportunity to attend an author talk by him at another school. I felt excited as I was herded onto a bus for the trip across town. Once there, we were led through the school grounds to sit in the library and listen, in wonder, to this man who had such a sublime mastery of language. He was so encouraging and entertaining. He also assured us that it was completely possible to become a writer. He left us with his address and promised to help us if we wanted to correspond. I wrote him a letter almost immediately. However, as days bled into each other, I did not send it as I did not feel confident and feared failure. Finally, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and posted it. I was amazed when he replied. This author who had written over one hundred books and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (probably around the time he visited) had found the time to hand write a letter to me. I have often reflected on what he wrote. He joked that the letter must have come via tortoise, as the date it was written was much earlier than the date it arrived. He also said that my desire to become a writer was entirely possible and he could see that potential in the letter I had written to him. His advice was to continue to practise and if I did, I would succeed. Do you remember who influenced you to write? Having a mentor helps us reach our potential in several ways.
- Inspiration. They encourage us when we doubt ourselves and spur us to keep practising and moving forward. They ignite creativity and support us to be resilient and persistent.
- Radical candour. They can care personally about us whilst providing challenging and honest feedback.
- Objective perspective. When writing, it is easy to become completely absorbed in the process. This prevents us from seeing things that a mentor, coming to the writing with a fresh perspective, will see. This objective perspective will improve your writing and keep it on the right path.
- Find our voice. It is often very difficult to find your authentic voice when you begin writing. A mentor can help determine what is genuine and what aspects of your writing don’t serve you well.
- Set goals. A mentor can help you set goals and check in to see if you are meeting them. This helps us to stay conscientiously on our path to success.
Your mentor does not have to be a professional writer. They simply need to care for you and your goals and be willing to be honest about your writing. Writing groups, friends and family can all be sources of support. A mentor needs to have similar interests and values to the writer and be willing to provide the type of expertise you need at the time. Are you just looking for a reader to point out the weaknesses in your plot or are you looking for someone to assist you with the eBook publishing process? Mary River Press Services can assist at any stage of your writing process.