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Tip 4 for Living the Freelance Writing Life: Find a Writer Mentor

Updated on June 14, 2012

Learn from The Best

If you want to make money with freelance writing, you must learn how. You can read books and articles, you can take classes and attend workshops or seminars. But to truly understand the details of being a freelance writer and become successful, you need to learn from those who are a success. In any ocupation, finding a mentor to guide you can mean the difference between success and failure. This is especially true in writing where you can learn how to write, but not know who to contact or how to market.

Why Should You Have a Mentor?

You may wonder what difference a mentor can make that books and articles won't. Here are several reasons why you should consider finding a mentor.

  • Learn from their mistakes instead of making your own. A good mentor will tell you what not to do based on their experience. This can save you years of frustration with your writing. They will help you avoid the pitfalls of writing that can prevent you from earning a decent living.
  • You can ask questions as you go along. While you can find answers from reading articles, you will get more personal help with a mentor. They will provide information that is specific to your situation rather than general guidelines.
  • They can be a valuable resource. While you won't want to ask for contacts or references with every writing project, they can direct you to the right places to market your work. Some of these people they may know personally and others they may know by reputation. For instance, they can tell you that a certain editor is great at working with new writers or another one only wants experienced writers with published clips.
  • They can inspire and encourage you. This can be the greatest reason to have a mentor. Hearing their stories of struggle and then success can encourage you to keep working when you want to give up.

How to Find a Freelance Writer to Be a Mentor

Okay, so maybe now your sold on finding a mentor. How do you find one and how do you know what to look for in a mentor? Not every writer wants to be a mentor and not all of them can be your mentor. Here are some guidelines to follow when looking for a mentor for your freelance writing career.

  • Find someone who writes what you want to write. Information varies greatly between genres and types of writing; you want to find someone with experience that you can use.
  • Find someone who is successful. They may not be a best-selling author, but they should be making money as a freelance writer. They may be published or have regular clients; they can even be writing part-time. The goal is to find someone who is further along in their writing career than you so they can guide you to where they are. If at some point, you surpass their success, you can always find another mentor.
  • Look for someone that is interested in helping new writers. Some writers are so busy with their own careers that they don't have the time needed to devote to mentoring new people.

Don't forget to look online for a mentor. While you want to find someone you can interact with on an individual level, you will also find valuable information from those with their own website or blog that is geared towards helping new writers.

If you're not sure where to look for a mentor, here are a couple of ways you can find some possibilities.

First, look for writer's websites or groups. Read what they have to say and interact with them on message boards or in forums. You may find someone there that you can approach to be your mentor.

Search for writers' websites and blogs. Read their work for awhile and see if they are someone you want to follow. These writers may not be able to become a traditional mentor, but they can be someone who can provide information and guidance through their posts and articles. Many of them will also answer questions if you email them.

How to Approach Someone

The hard part of finding a mentor can be actually approaching them and asking them to be your mentor. If you follow someone through their blog or Twitter, this will likely not happen. But if you are looking for continual guidance on an individual level, you will need to approach them.

Take the time to get to know them first. Find out about their writing interests and background and discuss yours. This can happen over time if you are posting on a message board or working in a writer's group.

Once you get to know a writer, discuss your goals and interest in writing. Let them know that you are interested in following their path as a writer. Ask them if they would be willing to answer questions that you may have along the way or provide feedback for your writing. If they are willing, find out the best way to contact them.

Don't overload your mentor by contacting them for every question or every piece you write. Remember they have other obligations and they are helping you as a volunteer. Be mindful of their time and save the most important questions for them; investigate other questions on your own. Have them read an occasional piece of writing or provide direction.

A mentor can make a big difference in your success as a freelance writer. If you take the time to find someone that can guide you on the path to a writing career, you will have a valuable resource that not all writers have. Good luck on your writing success!


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    • jm72writes profile image

      jm72writes 5 years ago from Missouri

      Dee aka Nonna: Yes, being a loyal follower does help you get answers to your questions when you ask. I think a lot depends on the writer and if they are interested in working with newbies. I think a great place to find help is in writer's forums. Some of those writers may be just a little ahead of you, but they can offer guidance and suggestions.

      Eric: I like your idea about promoting the writers who mentor you. I think that would be a great way to show your appreciation.

    • Eric Calderwood profile image

      Eric Calderwood 5 years ago from USA

      I would love to have an experienced writing mentor to guide me (besides the teachers in writing courses that I take). You are right, the hard part is asking them. It takes some doing to ask someone you know is very busy to take time out to read your work and answer your questions. I've heard that you should try to find a way to be beneficial to them in return. I suppose this can be done by helping to promote their work and get the word out about them on your own personal networking sites.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      I am like that as well, not willing to ask for help but willing to help when asked of me. Isn't take funny. I am happy you pointed out finding writers with websites or blogs and following them.....had meant to mention and totally forgot.... I thought about the fact that if you become a loyal follower they may be more apt to mentor.

    • jm72writes profile image

      jm72writes 5 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you for your comments. I agree that some writers will not be able to approach others. I'm more that way myself. That is why I mentioned finding writers with websites or blogs that they can follow. It's not the same as one-on-one interaction, but any advice can help new writers.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      Great advice....finding and approaching someone take a lot of courage. I know some can do this and some will not be able would be wonderful if there are writers out there will to help and they would let themselves be known.

      This was a really good and informative hub. Thank you.