Are you a budding writer looking for a mentor? You’re not alone. Most of us want to know the secrets to building a relationship with someone who can listen to our fears, advise us on this career path we’ve chosen, and maybe even help us become the next Chimamanda Adichie.
If you’re struggling to find “the one,” especially in Nigeria, we’ve got the fix for you. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are rife with seasoned writers who wouldn’t mind mentoring talented writers. The reality is that for many writers, a virtual mentorship is as close as they will ever get to meeting their professional heroes. But like all professions, the real issue is knowing what to look for in a mentor.
Here are a few of our favorite ideas.
1. Your mentor should be the kind of writer you want to be
The best writers will tell you not to be a carbon copy of themselves. Instead, they’ll explain how they got to where they are. Ideally, what you’ll learn growing as a writer is, not to be exactly like another, no matter how famous or successful they are. Your motivation should be to reach similar milestones by focusing on your unique writing style.
By all means, find a writer you want to be like. But remember, you don’t have to become them exactly — they are only there to help you take the actions necessary to get where you want as a writer.
2. Your Mentor doesn’t have to be perfect
Everyone, including your potential mentor, has flaws. Instead of focusing your efforts on finding the perfect writing mentor to guide you through, understand that while no one has an impeccable track record, every single person has something to offer their mentees.
What makes the relationship real is that they don’t have to be perfect to be a great mentors. You’ve got a part to play too because just having mentors isn’t enough—you have to put in work to make it matter.
3. Your mentor should help you—and not massage your ego
In a mentor, you want someone who, for instance, will be honest enough to point out that your writing is somewhat mediocre, and not flatter you. If you must be the best at your writing craft, and need someone to be your first call, think about who’s going to give you the best writing advice, not who’s going to stroke your ego. You’ll get better that way.
It’s understandably tough when you have to take some hard knocks. The good news is, if you approach mentorship correctly, you’ll be just fine—making you the best writer you can ever be.
4. Your mentor shouldn’t be the only one
There are so many great writers out there with an infinite number of lessons to teach. Instead of trying to find a single all-knowing writer, build an army of potential mentors who can get you where you want to go. The ‘will you be my mentor?’ emails may not always work. You’ve got to basically start embracing the many learning opportunities all around you.
To meet your potential mentors, put your work out there, strive to be extremely good at writing, never settle for anything lesser than perfection, attend creative writing workshops, take part in writing contests, and finally, take your social media presence seriously.
What else do you think is important when you’re looking for a good mentor as a writer? Let us know in the comments!