I love helping serious writers learn the craft. Watching them master a technique gives me indescribable joy from the tips of my toes to the ends of my eyelashes. Maybe that’s a selfish reason for mentoring—you be the judge.
From the moment I sensed a call to write, I knew God wanted me to pass on whatever I learned to any writer who was willing to work hard. Not just any writer, but the ones who were willing to spend hours perfecting their craft by:
- Carving out time to write everyday.
- Participating in conferences.
- Reading books in the writer’s genre.
- Seeking their purpose in a prayerful environment.
- Studying how-to books.
- Taking advantage of writing workshops.
- Viewing social media as a means of communicating value to others.
Writing is not for the fainthearted. It’s a lonely profession, just you, your laptop, and God. Rewrites. Trudging through point of view. The psychology of character. Effective dialogue. Emotive conflict. Plot twists. Antagonistic settings. Creating the unpredictable, unexpected, and realistic. And self-editing.
For those personality types who require people around them, writing can be an arduous task. Sacrifices are made by the mentor and the writer—time, effort, and sometimes monetary.
A mentor will help the writer build on her strengths to overcome weaknesses. She will point out the well-done areas and suggest rewrites on the not-so-good. A mentor is an encourager, and she’s willing to help your through the discouragements and cheer you on during the good times.
When I mentor a new writer, the first thing I want to know is why that person wants to write. What motivates him/her to get up earlier in the morning or stay up late at night? That tells me if the passion for writing will equal the amount of work needed to be a success. A motivated writer accepts edits, studies and applies new techniques, and practice the habits of an accomplished writer.
A professional writer never stops learning because our awareness of the craft grows. We read a how-to book, put the good stuff to practice, then realize we need to read the material again ... and again. That means more rewrites. I can hear you groaning as you read this, but each time we look at our manuscripts and find an area that needs improvement, we are developing professional writing habits—groundbreaking tools that we can pass on to other serious writers.
I had a powerful mentor who would not let me settle for mediocre writing. I was challenged and inspired every step of the way. Sometimes I wanted to give up. But I stuck with it, and it paid off.
Not every new writer is ready for a mentor. What about you?
DiAnn Mills is an award winning writer who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her newest is FIREWALL
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011.
DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.