Mentorship in Writing


When we get too comfortable in our creative output, we run the risk of losing the intensity, the complexity and the depth in our writing. We continually grow as artists by challenging ourselves in terms of goals as well as learning opportunities. The latter can be achieved by enrolling in mini-courses, pursuing an advanced degree or working with a mentor. Mentorship in particular is one of the most accessible—and effective—paths to figuring out how to get traditionally published and/or earn additional income as a writer. Mentors can help you increase the visibility of your work, as well as model the process of adjusting one’s attitude and efforts to accomplish current aspirations.

According to author, veteran entrepreneur and innovator Janice Omadeke, “mentorship is a form of radical self-advocacy that helps you break through the noise and barriers to achieve the life of your dreams and see accelerated career growth.” Omadeke was named among Entrepreneur Magazine's 100 Women of Influence in 2022 and her soon-to-be released book “Mentorship Unlocked: The Science and Art of Setting Yourself Up For Success” further delves into the transformative impact this kind of strategic networking can have.

Before you start looking for a mentor it can be helpful to clarify what you want, what you need and what would be helpful in terms of the writing goals you are most interested in pursuing. Omadeke also recommends the following reflection exercise when narrowing down mentorship options:

  • Know what you want. This includes what you want out of your career over the next 6-12 months, what you want to work on.
  • Focus on building your mentor network one person at a time. It’s a strategic and intentional process. You do not need to work with more than three mentors at once. Take your time to determine which mentor may be right for you. 
  • Remember to be a human first. You’re building a real relationship with another person. While it may be tempting to be transactional in your approach to growth, learning more about your mentor, their lived experiences, and what energizes them can help you build a sustainable relationship that goes beyond mentorship.

Then, once you have secured a mentor, I advise being intentional about how you utilize their expertise to distinguish between immediate and long-term priorities. Tap into their pro knowledge to assist with:

  • Defining objectives and brainstorming how to overcome roadblocks such as time constraints, financial roadblocks, etc.
  • Putting challenges (like trying to find an agent, coping with rejection…) into perspective
  • Developing a plan for promoting your artistic talent and skills 
  • Experimenting with different elements of craft or writing in a new genre
  • Breaking down BIG dreams into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Discovering fresh sources of inspiration
  • Weighing the pros and cons of starting a writing-focused side hustle, self-publishing, applying to an MFA program and/or transitioning away from your day job
  • Holding you accountable to an action plan you outlined together
  • Identifying potential channels for community building with other authors, editors and other pros in the publishing industry
  • Reminding you that perfection isn’t your ultimate aim—progress is

I personally can attest to the tremendous positive impact the right mentor can have on one’s career. One of my current clients who I regularly write for is a paying gig I landed as a direct referral from her. I have now been creating content for that organization for almost three years (through which I have made over $55k thus far). So be transparent with your mentor as your desires—and external obligations—evolve. Candor is a crucial component in maintaining this relationship as a positive and productive connection for both of you.

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