By Margaret Daley
Years ago when I started writing, the Internet didn’t exist, nor did the current plethora of how-to-books on romance writing. The writing groups so many of us now take for granted in helping beginners learn the craft of telling a good story weren’t exactly on every street corner either! In the city where I live, I was fortunate to find a group of writers to help me get started. Without them I’m not sure where I would have ended up. They were there to help encourage me in a business that is very tough and to give me advice on what works and doesn’t work.
Since that time in the late 70s, there have been several organizations formed that have been wonderful in helping the beginner writer as well as the almost published and published writer. Romance Writers of America has a wonderful network of chapters and online groups to help. The American Christian Fiction Writers is another organization that has worked to educate, promote and help writers in all phases of their career. Both organizations have premier annual conferences that offer all levels of writers a means to grow in their craft. Through these groups I have had opportunities to meet and help other writers as I was helped when I started out.
I mentor because I feel I should pass it on-as the saying goes, pay it forward. The joy of giving to another through the ministry of mentoring is unbelievable. That is what the Lord would expect me to do. I love to write and teach. Mentoring whether it is working individually with a person or in a class teaching to a group of writers combines these two things that I love to do. The Lord gives us gifts to use to help others.
Mentoring can take many forms. Whatever type of relationship you have with your mentee or mentor will depend on what you establish. I love to answer questions about the industry and writing a book. I love to brainstorm story ideas and be a cheerleader. Those are the kinds of things I like to do as a mentor. Others may like to do something entirely different. You need to find the mentor you think will meet the needs you have at the time.
Mentoring can exist in many different types of situations or occupations. It certainly has through the ages. Anyone can reach out and help others by guiding them and showing them how something is done. Each mentor will approach the relationship differently. Each person you mentor will need different advice and help.
A mentoring situation exists when someone a little farther along in the situation or occupation helps another person. This relationship usually doesn’t happen instantly. It often evolves slowly over time as the two people become acquainted. It might start out with a few questions asked and answered. Before long, there is more back and forth between the two people. Or, it can be a more formal relationship where two people agree to be a mentor and a mentee. Grounds rules are established at the first. What the mentor feels he/she can do. What the mentee wants from the mentor.
Either of these types of relationships works if both people agree and a mentee doesn’t push for more than the mentor can give. I find it is best if the mentor communicates what he/she can do and can’t do.
Sometimes mentors will approach a person they think they can help. Sometimes a person who needs help will approach someone who he/she thinks can help. If that is the case, don’t be upset if the person you approached can’t do it. It takes a commitment of time that some can’t at that moment do.
Mentor situations aren’t lifelong commitments. The relationship might only exist for a short time. Or it could continue for years. Again this is up to the mentor and mentee.
There is nothing like the feeling of helping another. A mentor touches a person’s life in a special way. Personally I feel I’ve gotten more from the relationship than the mentee. I have formed some wonderful friendships from mentoring.
You don’t have to have thirty years of experience to mentor others. Wherever you are in your journey, there will be people who know less than you who need help. Someone may mentor you, but you can also turn around and mentor a person who isn’t at the same place as you are. Pay it forward.
Margaret Daley is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. One of her romantic suspense books, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Contest. She also has won the Golden Quill Contest, FHL’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, Winter Rose Contest, Holt Medallion and the Barclay Gold Contest. She wrote for various secular publishers before the Lord led her to the Christian romance market. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Love Inspired lines, romantic suspense for Abingdon Press and historical romance for Summerside Press. She has sold eighty-four books to date. Her latest release is Severed Trust. You can find Margaret on her blog, Facebook or Twitter.