This is a short one but it's important.
I am new to writing. I have just completed my debut novel and I am not entirely certain I would have been able to do it without my writing mentor.
Here are my top five benefits of having a writing mentor: -
1. Brainstorming / Plotting
I had a fixed idea in my head for the plot of my debut novel, Ink. But when it came to putting together a detailed outline my mentor Dustin Bilyk of The Author's Hand, was able to spot holes in my plot and he brought his own vivid imagination to my idea. The resulting outline was still 100% mine but it was better structured, better paced and most of the holes had been plugged.
2. One to One Writing Coach
After I had finished the outline, I began writing in 10,000 word blocks and sending each block over to Dustin as I completed it. He would then read it through and make suggestions on how to improve it. What I learned was invaluable not only for Ink but for my future writing projects.
One of my biggest challenges, as a Buddhist, pacifist, vegan was writing fight scenes. With Dustin's help I am learning to plan and write awesome fight scenes, although I know I still have a long way to go before I can give Lee Child (or Tolkien, or Rowling) a run for their money.
3. Moral Support
Writing is a lonely business. Some days I love everything about it and can't imagine doing anything else. Other days I want to drive to the nearest beach and tie dumb-bells through my belt loops and go for a swim.
Having a mentor doesn't change any of that, it just means you have someone to share it with and hopefully, on your worst days, they'll make sure to hide your car keys.
Or you might just get a mentor like Dustin who loves to tell me author self-publishing horror stories when I'm very much a PG 13 girl.
4. Constructive Criticism
I'm a new writer. But even if I wasn't I'd want someone on my team who there was a slim chance that on a good day, with a following wind, I might listen to.
My mentor is a fantasy author himself and has oodles of experience mentoring and editing other authors' work, which means when he says something isn't working, I listen. I might not agree. I might not change anything. But I do listen.
5. Keeping me Accountable
Don't get me wrong, I work hard and write fast. I finished writing the first draft of Ink in around four weeks. But knowing there was someone there who had set aside time to read the next 10,000 words, gave me that extra reason to focus and limited the time I spent surfing social media sites and watching memes of high-fiveing puppies.
So, that's my list. I am forever grateful to have met Dustin and I am super-excited to have finished Ink. It's available for pre-order right now on Amazon here.