7 Qualities to Look For in a Writing Mentor

ACFW Advice, Authors and writing, Encouragement, Friends of ACFW, Mentors, writing 1 Comment

By Beth K. Vogt

Almost every writer I know is looking for a mentor – or was looking for a mentor at one time in their writing career. And yet, when asked what we’re looking for in a mentor, how many of us go beyond “I want someone to help me become a better writer” answer?

We all want to become better writers – and a mentor should help you do that. But what specific qualities should be considered when you are looking for a mentor?

Look for someone who:

  1. Has a positive attitude – Why would you want to be mentored by someone who is only going to give you negative feedback or who is critical about the industry or their peers or other writers? Look for an encourager – someone who will offer constructive feedback.
  2. Is respected by others in the writing community – Whether the person you’re considering as a potential mentor has won awards or not, they should still have a good reputation among writers, editors, and agents.
  3. Sets and meets personal and professional goals – You’ve got goals you want to meet as a writer, yes? It makes sense that you want to work with someone who knows how to set goals and achieve them because that kind of person will help you figure out how to accomplish your goals.
  4. Expresses an interest in you – While a mentor relationship isn’t the same thing as a friendship, a mentor should spend time getting to know you, your dreams, your strengths, your weaknesses. You don’t want to work with a stranger.
  5. Continues to learn and grow – Does this person have a mentor? Do they attend conferences? Are they staying up to date on the industry?
  6. Assumes you’re great & celebrates your success – You’re not looking for flattery, but you do want a mentor to encourage you and see your potential.
  7. Is trustworthy – You’re going to be talking more than just books with your mentor. You’ll be sharing about your dreams, your disappointments, your successes – and you need to know that anything said in confidence stays between you and your mentor.

Found someone you want ask to be your mentor? Remember to:

  • Explain why you’re asking and what you expect out of the relationship.
  • Be clear why you want a mentor. Are you working on a specific project?
  • Give them time to prayerfully consider – and be gracious if they say no. (I should mention that you should always pray before asking someone to mentor you. This is a life-changing relationship for both people involved.)
  • If they say yes, suggest a trial period of eight weeks, with a “no harm, no foul” end to the agreement on either sided if it’s not working.
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 Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A Christy Award winner, as well as an ACFW Carol Award winner, Beth is the author of nine contemporary romance novels and novellas. Her first women’s fiction novel, Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018 from Tyndale House Publishers.





Comments 1

  1. Is a writing mentor the same as a writing coach? I suppose a “mentor” comes with the idea of not being paid while a “coach” does expect be paid. But, I have to say that I loved working with Sandra Byrd a few years ago, and I would love to work with her again. She helped me learn so much while she was my writing coach.

    She met all seven of those qualities that you shared. As I read them, she kept popping to mind.

    Thanks, Beth, for this post!

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