This guest post is by Karol K of imcreator.com
Who is a mentor-writer? This question is probably on your mind right now. Even more importantly, why do you need one?
Let me take this from the top.
Is there a writer or an author you’ve always looked up to? Someone whose writing style is exceptionally interesting? One who can write a sentence in a way that makes you stop and think “darn, that’s good”?
I’m sure you’ll find someone who fits the description if you take a minute to think about it. Maybe it’s an author you’ve been reading forever. Or maybe it’s someone whose work you’ve found just recently. The timespan doesn’t really matter; what matters is that their style of writing is so addictive that you can’t stop reading.
But that’s just the definition of a good writer, so what does upgrading this person’s status to a “mentor” do for you?
What can a mentor do for you?
A couple of things.
First of all, they inspire you to grow as a writer. When you read their work, you simply pay closer attention to all the things they are doing. This is very motivating by itself. You start thinking, “wow, I need to write something just like that.”
Secondly, they show you a way of writing you wouldn’t have stumbled upon otherwise. Every writer who has somehow gained your recognition is likely to possess their own voice and style (the thing that makes them so recognizable). Being aware of this and noticing this style consciously can do a lot for your own style of writing.
You can use their work as a benchmark for your own writing. Whenever you finish an article or post, you can put it against a piece of your mentor’s work. Is your flow equally as good as your mentor’s? If not, there’s room for possible improvement right there.
How to choose your mentor
Now, I’m not going to tell you who you should choose, or why my mentor is better than yours. This is not the point. The point is to have a mentor who’s unique to your own style and the way you see quality writing.
So you’ll have to give it a little thought and select, on your own, just one writer who gives you the most inspiration.
The easiest way of doing this is to simply take a look at your bookshelf. One writer (or two) is likely to dominate it. You can also include the writers you find in the online world. A good place to start in that space are with the blogs you read the most.
My writing mentor is Jeremy Clarkson. Yes, the Top Gear guy. Why him, of all people?
As it turns out, I’ve been reading his books for a long time now. I’ve bought everything he’s ever released. Every single one of his books is extremely entertaining and interesting to me. His style is just exceptional.
At some point when reading one of his books I simply decided that I need to write more like him, and that was it. That was the moment. He became my mentor.
Again, this is only my perspective, you may (and should) have a different opinion. But that’s okay. That’s the whole point of a personal mentor-writer. Other people don’t have to agree with you, or tell you that there are other writers who are better. It’s no one else’s business who you choose.
What to do once you have a mentor
The first rule is to read everything they write. Every writer evolves, mentors included. Evolve along with your mentor. See what’s changing in their style, the topics they cover, the novels they write, etc. Just be up-to-date with what’s going on with them.
The second rule is to read their work consciously. What I mean by that is to read it in a twofold way, so to speak. First, you obviously like to read your mentor’s work, so enjoy it like you always do. But more than that, be aware of the technique and the style they’re using. Notice all the clever sentences, funny references, engaging paragraphs. To put it simply, be aware of what you’re reading.
The final step is to develop and improve your own style after being influenced by your mentor. A specific style is what distinguishes one writer from the other.
For example, every web design blogger can write a post on “How to design a proper about page.” But every one of them will create the post in a completely different way. The point is to find your own way of delivering a message. Your mentor can help you with that because they are likely to already have a distinct and noticeable style.
Finally, grow as a writer. Take all the inspiration and information you’ve gotten from your mentor and put it into your own work.
What not to do
This is basic, but it needs to be said: don’t be a copycat.
You’re supposed to get inspiration, not to copy your mentor’s style entirely. This advice sounds obvious, but you really need to be careful here. It’s quite easy to start copying your mentor subconsciously without even noticing it.
Keep in mind that you probably have a voice within you that’s just as good as your mentor’s. You only need to find it and bring it to the surface. And yes, I really mean it!
Now, there’s one more step. It’s not mandatory by any means, but it’s a nice addition to the whole approach I’m presenting here.
Contacting your mentor
Because why the heck not? You probably have a lot of questions to ask, a lot of things to say, and a lot of things to thank them for. Being able to speak (or email) your mentor directly might just be the motivator you need to get to the next level.
Contacting your mentor might not be easy, and might take some time to get through all the gate keepers and all kinds of other people. But when you finally manage to get in touch, it’s totally worth it.
Do you have your writing-mentor already? How did you find them? Let me know, I’m curious.
Karol K. is a freelance writer, and a blogger. If you want to check out what he’s up to, feel free to hit him up on Twitter (@carlosinho).