O is for On a Side-Note


Etiquette for Finding a Mentor

Or

How to Ask For Help in A Way That Makes People Like You

 

Are you looking for someone to help you on your writing journey? There’s always someone ahead of us and always someone behind. Here are some do’s and do not’s.

 

REACH out and ask someone for help.

The worst she can say is, “no.”

 

OFFER to take him out for coffee, lunch, or dinner.

A meal is a great trade-off for his expertise.

 

RESPECT her time.

Remember writing may or may not be her full-time job. She may have a day job too. Or she may be on deadline.

 

READ something he’s written.

Best to read before you meet, but read after if you must, if you hope to continue your new friendship.

 

TWO REASONS

It shows you’ve taken time to invest in him the way you’re asking him to invest in you.

 

You may not like his writing style and asking him for help would just cause conflict.

 

FOLLOW up with a thank you.

It takes less than thirty seconds to shoot an email, text, or twitter but the gesture lasts for days.

 

POLITELY request a one-page critique.

Don’t send her twenty-seven pages to edit unless she volunteers. Use the time she’s already reserved for you to bring your page. In-person feedback is the best. You can read her body language and tone and discuss any questions you may have.

 

TURN around and share what you’ve learned with someone else.

 

FOR ADDITIONAL WRITING TIPS, SEE THE WRITING TIPS PAGE.

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6 Comments

  1. Good advice, Lori. I’ve had some wonderful mentors along my journey. The 1st one to tell me about ACFW & give me assistance was Margaret Daley. Linda Broday, offered to read and critique some of my work which really helped me. Then I attended a fiction class put on my DiAnn Mills. To some extent, she mentors everyone that takes her class. Another suggestion I might add to yours. If you plan on attending ACFW conference for the 1st time, sign up for a mentor to guide you through the process. My 1st time, Ramona Cecil helped me & introduced me to others. It was great.

  2. Another great article for the newbie as well as the seasoned writer. :)

  3. I think it’s commendable that you’re willing to share your writer’s experience with another and that you’re encouraging others to as well. We’re all in this together and can benefit from all.

  4. Good advice, especially on the reading something they’ve written. I think one of my greatest fears in finding a mentor is that they will be more critical of my thinking than my writing! Sure, I welcome having someone tell me that my sentence doesn’t make sense grammatically, but I’d rather reserve the ideological/theological arguments for another space. There are only a few people I trust to tell me I am crazy 😉

    • Lori Freeland |

      You’d be surprised at how nice people can be!!! Of course, there are the mean ones. I’ve talked with them too.

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