It is not just a question of having or not having your own writing mentor. The real question here is: Do you really need a mentor or could you do without one? Opinions vary from writer to writer. But first, let’s take a closer look at what mentoring a writer is.
When we say “mentor”, it is synonymous to a “guide” or “counselor”. He/She is someone who could give sound advice not just on our writing career but also on life in general; someone who has been there and done that and has inspired you to become a better writer.
Most likely, the mentor a writer has in mind could be someone who is well-known or experienced, who have written and published numerous articles, stories, or novels, and probably still be busy writing his/her next book. How could that mentor squeeze in time for mentoring is something the mentor can only determine.
Another common source for writing mentors is from the field of education. Teachers, professors, and even workshop instructors are always ready to act as someone’s writing mentor because it is innate in their personality and job.
I don’t have a mentor in the strict definition. I take as much advice and inspiration as I can from the people I am close to. – Natalie Massenet
Mentoring follows three stages which are:
- To lead — It starts with the mentor leading the mentoree the way, teaching what and what not to do most of the time.
- To follow through — The mentor will let the writer do things on his/her own, following through the steps — this time giving advice, commenting, giving suggestions, etc. , and
- To let go — When the mentor feels that the writer is successful and can do things independently without him/her, the mentor starts to let go.
But the relationship doesn’t end there. The friendship still continues.
On the other hand, there are people who don’t maintain this kind of mentor-mentoree relationship with someone. These writers would just take advice from different sources and take it from there. They are too independent that they don’t need to be followed through. Others are those who had a bad experience with mentoring before that they decide to do things on their own instead. Which brings me back to my question: Do you really need a mentor or could you do without one?
Every writer would claim to have been taught and inspired by someone to write and be the person and writer he/she is now and would consider that someone as a mentor. To maintain a professional mentoring relationship with someone is his/her own choice.