Monday, February 10, 2014

The Value of a Mentor: Priceless!

By Darren Kehrer

No matter what level of writing you currently rate yourself, I believe one of the best resources a writer can have is to find a writing mentor. From my own experience, I know that I am a better writer because of mine.

The Write Tool for the Write Job!
Recently, after having lunch with my writing mentor, I spent the drive home thinking how lucky I was to have just such a person to call upon. I know most of us have writing groups, forums, and email loops to participate in, but having a writing mentor to act as cheerleader, sounding-board, and even cattle-prod can make the “published” difference in your writing journey.

By nature, when you share your writing with the world, you are putting yourself out there to be reviewed, critiqued, and even rejected. For “young” writers, this can cause a high level of anxiety (that often prevents such sharing). By starting with your writing mentor, you will hopefully feel less at risk. With continuous feedback from your mentor, your drafts will eventually attain a more professional level. As a result, you can eventually build up a “first draft immunity” to the risk of sharing your stories with others.

Your writing mentor is hopefully someone with at least one book published and is well versed in the art of writing. When your mentor has passed that published stage, you stand to gain all the wisdom from their trials, obstacles, and challenges in order to become a published author.

Duties of a writing mentor:
  • Provides encouragement.
  • Can be the lightning bolt in your brainstorm.
  • Keeps you focused on the big picture.
  • Pushes your writing potential forward.
  • Can assist in networking within the industry.
  • Share experiences from his or her writing journey.
  • Gives advice on book proposals, query letters, agents, and editors.
  • Will be able to provide feedback on your manuscript revisions.
  • Will have a unique understanding on your strengths and opportunities.
  • Loves to proofread with a red pen.

I have always been told a writer’s skin needs to be armor plated. Having a mentor to help guide you along the publishing journey will help keep your armor polished and strong (and even repaired when needed).

If you are not mentoring anyone right now, and you are a published writer, consider taking a Hoosier writer under your wing. Likewise, if you are looking for a mentor, consider adopting one. I have found that, from personal experience, a mentor doesn’t always realize (or think of themselves) as a mentor. If that is your case, be sure to let your would be mentor know.

Who knows, your protégé might start out his or her first published book with, “This book would have never happened without the constant nudging of (insert your name here).”


  1. Nicely worded post. I've heard many authors give credit to others for lessons that eventually paved the way to publication. Too bad I did not have a mentor in my early days. No doubt I would have learned faster than my trial & error method!

  2. Wise words! Have you submitted them to Writer's Digest or Christian Communicator yet? (My two fav writing mags these days. . . :-)

  3. hmm. it's a thought. I will have to ask my mentor :)