Monday, October 11, 2010

Mini-Mentoring

Let's face it, most people aren't going to find a mentor to lead them through the publishing jungle. There is another solution: mini-mentoring.

Everyone has expertise in one area or another. Writers like Bonnie Calhoun are crackerjack bloggers, while others can teach you about writing in a specific genre. Even with the Internet, conferences, blogs, and craft books, sometimes you need to get clarification from a real, live person.

When I'm stuck, I first ask the Lord to help me connect with someone, who can unscramble my brain. While at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, Linda Evans Shepherd, co-author of the Potluck Club series, sat down at our table for lunch. Her stories about interviews and speaking engagements gave us a thumbnail sketch of what it's like and how to conduct ourselves. She then asked us about our writing. The suggestions she made became a machete, cutting through the writing rain forest.

Each of us can be a mini-mentor for another writer. Perhaps you're a veteran writer with multiple books on the bestseller list. Your articles and your Q and A session in a workshop can cut through a newbie's confusion about Point of View or other subjects.

Perhaps you have an agent, but haven't been published yet. Many of us are still looking for representation. Your insider information can give us direction on how to approach an agent.

No matter what stage you're at in your writing ministry/career, you have something to offer. Mini-mentoring can be as simple as being a critique partner or giving someone an encouraging word after a painful rejection.

To all my faithful writer friends, who offer a hand in scaling this publishing mountain, thank you!

Questions for You:  Have you experienced the blessing of a mini-mentor? Can you share how it impacted your writing and determination to persevere?

33 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

I like this, Susan. We can all be mini mentors. I've gotten an email here or there from writers just starting out on this crazy journey and it's been a blessing corresponding with them. But I've also received my fair share of mentoring from those ahead of me.

Diane said...

I feel what little I know, I want to pass on to others and so many have been good to help me along too! :O)

Jessica Nelson said...

Good post! Yes, anyone who gives me advice feels like a mentor. And I hope I'm as generous with what I've learned too.

Carol J. Alexander said...

Yes, Susan, I have been helped along the way by those that have gone ahead. I took a class by Christina Katz and she's made it known that her inbox is always open to former students. Barbara Frank, Hope Clark, Kelly James-Enger, Dan Case, Terry Whalin, Karen Lange, and you, Susan, have all been gracious and willing to answer my newbie questions. (And probably others that I'm forgetting.) I hope that God gives me the opportunity to do the same.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I like this post and this idea. I've definitely had help along the way, from well-known authors to other writers starting at the beginning like me. So many of them have passed along little bits of advice or things they've learned and because of that, I've been able to grow and become a better writer.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Katie -

I think we tend to think in macro terms and miss the micro blessings. Life is made up of many small, yet significant, nuggets.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Diane -

I feel the same way. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

You've been helpful to so many people. I think one reason people come back again and again is a sense that the blogger is approachable and willing to answer questions.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carol -

Although I mentioned only two people in my post, many have deposited their wisdom into my life. I'm honored to be on your list. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

We can learn by trial and error, but it's so nice to avoid the pitfalls. Those who are further along can give wisdom, so we arrive at our destination in good shape.

Hmm, this could apply to all areas of life.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sassy Granny ... said...

I can't claim a mentor where writing is concerned, but I can certainly tout their value where the rest of life is. I've been blessed to have any number of wise people in my life over the years, and often they help me to noodle-through this or that.

Patti Lacy said...

What a WONDERFUL post, Susan. I truly believe it takes a VILLAGE these days (of pray-ers, of mentors, of encouragers, of plotters, of readers) to write a book!!!

patti

Terri Tiffany said...

I have so often been blessed by mini-mentors. As reaently as a week of so ago, a published writer critiqued the first two chapters of my MS. Wow! She was so helpful!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathleen -

How true! Mentors are important in every area of life. I'm grateful to the Lord for the many people, who have given wise advice.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Maria I. Morgan said...

Great wisdom in this post! You're right that no matter what stage we're at in our writing career, we can always give an encouraging word to a fellow writer. This past weekend, my crit group met, and I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have the founding member validate my writing! Now it's my turn to pass along the encouragement! Have a blessed week, Susan!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Patti -

Having a team of experts sure makes the journey easier. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I've had a couple of published authors critique parts of my manuscript. Their comments taught me valuable skills.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Maria -

Crit groups are a great example of mini-mentoring. Perhaps we can further explore the many ways available to support each other.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

This is great, Susan! Thank you!

So many people in the blog world have encouraged/mentored me in ways. I'm very thankful!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

Welcome back! It's so good to see you. :)

I'll pop over to your blog.

Blessings,
Susan

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I'm not even sure I can call my mentor a 'mini-mentor.' Though I have only asked for her help a couple of times, it has been so incredibly valuable that I think she is a maxi-mentor. :-) I think this has something to do with the pressures of being a debut author. Everything is so new that there are times when I need advice that only a very smart, experienced, multi-published author can provide.

Rhonda Schrock said...

So we can and should pray for one when we need it, but also be willing to be one when the opportunity comes along. That's what I hear you saying. That's good.

Jeanette Levellie said...

What a wonderful idea, Susan! I like the machete' concept, too.

You are one of my mini mentors, even though we've not met. Our phone and email converstations have helped me cut through a lot of rain forest gunk. I also include Patti Lacy, Cammie Quinn, James Watkins, and Clella Camp. All have unselfishly helped me through various stages of my writing journey. I'm so thankful.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rosslyn -

I'm glad you found a "maxi-mentor." We're blessed when others reach out and give us a hand.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rhonda -

Yes, I'm saying we should pray for the help we need and extend a hand to others. Sometimes we bemoan the lack of a mentor when they're actually all around us.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Nancy said...

When I started writing, I had a minimentor. She helped me get enough confidence to keep sending my wrting out.

Since then, I have tried to help others through writer's groups.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

Publishing can be overwhelming. I rely a great deal on the advice and expertise of others.

I'm glad I'm cut through some of the "jungle gunk" for you. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Crystal Laine Miller said...

Susan, probably the only mentors I've had have been "mini-mentors" and what you say is so true. It would be great to have a person guide you through the entire process, but it's probably not feasible or possible time-wise.

I hope that I can also give out "mentoring" to others as I can,too. It's a joy to me to help someone on the road to publication.

Good post!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Crystal -

Like you, mini-mentors provide the advice, publishing savvy, and encouragement I so often need.

Thanks for stopping by, my friend. I appreciate you and your blog. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Faith Imagined said...

Blogs like yours have been an excellent resource for me. I have several mentors who post their expertise every week!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

I appreciate the feedback. If you have any suggestions for improvements, please let me know. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Sandra Heska King said...

I count you as a mentor! You freely distribute beautiful nuggets of wisdom and links and lots of encouragement. Twenty-five years ago, I didn't know another writer. Except for my instructor and a couple I met at a conference. The access we have to each other now is unreal--and so REAL. Love you, Susan!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sandra -

I'm humbled by your kind words.

I'm grateful for you and all the wonderful friends I've made through blogs and Facebook.

Blessings,
Susan :)

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