It’s one of those “buzz words” we hear a lot in the writing community. Find a mentor. Be mentored. Reach out to someone who is a step ahead. Reach out to a seasoned writing veteran. Reach out to someone whose writing has influenced you in some way, shape or form. Ask that person to mentor you on your writing journey. Sounds great, right?
How does this happen?
*Does it happen organically, among the people you know? They may not be writers, but your mom said your manuscript was the best she ever read.
*Do you ask your local librarian for good resources on where to find a mentor? Librarians know everything, amiright?
*Should you message your favorite author every day for months, hoping they’ll volunteer to mentor you? I mean, you prayed about it…
*Do you have to stalk people online for an eternity and find just the right Twitter thread to approach this kind of subject? That author just “liked” your post of their new release. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
NO. Just no, people. Also, please never try those last two.
Call me crazy, but since I’m a Christian writer, my first source is going to be the Bible. God already outlined mentoring relationships for us, so why can’t we apply that to our Christian writing community? Here are a few of my thoughts:
But encourage one another daily as long as it is called “Today,”
Have you ever heard those college freshman stories? You know the ones. The professor walks up in front of the student body and tells the whole auditorium, “Look to the right, look to the left. These people won’t be here at the end of the semester.” Suddenly you realize one of those people is you. How can you possibly beat all these people for a place at the top? This small mindset is prevalent out there, but Christians need to aim bigger and bolder. We know that partnering with God in our writing includes helping others along the way.
I would encourage all Christian writers to get involved in a national organization like ACFW, join an online writing community (Susan May Warren’s “My Book Therapy” or Cyle Young & Bethany Jett’s “Serious Writer Academy”) or find a local organization that sponsors Christian writers in your area. Go to meetings. Learn your craft. Look to your right and to your left; and instead of seeing competition, I want you to see community. Realize we are together to help each other. A win for one of us is a win for all of us.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6
Will we choose to bless others on our writing journey? Do we believe it will help us grow? One thing that’s helped me grow as a writer is sponsoring a Camp NaNoWriMo event in the school where I teach. My daughter loves writing, and I’m amazed every time we host this writing event. There’s always that one kid. The kid I think will never want to participate. I’m standing up there acting like a crazy person and filling in the premise bubbles like a mad-lib quiz. (What’s your character’s name? Clementine. Who’s her opponent? The Miner 49’er. I kid you not.)
Then I see a spark. Kids start to ask questions and participate. We decide that Clementine is lost and gone forever because the Miner plunged her into a parallel universe where she will have to find a time-travel vehicle and make her way home before the Miner closes the Vortex. Hey, I can see the wheels turn. This writing thing isn’t so bad. I want to make my own superhero. I want my character to get stuck in space. I like time travel.
Yes. It’s a start.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Ultimately, we have to believe God is the One guiding both our lives and our writing. Let’s choose to act on that. I love the picture of a Titus 2 relationship outlined in Scripture. This same concept can be seen in the Paul to Timothy epistles. The New Testament model can be described as older teaching the younger, more established helping those just coming up. I’ve found this to be true in the Christian writing community as well.
This summer I was blessed to attend the Kentucky Christian Writers’ Conference. Being surrounded by other writers at all ages and stages is always a pleasure. While enjoying each session, drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee and furiously taking notes on speakers like Brandilyn Collins and Cara Putman, I had the privilege of meeting seasoned authors, each very successful in her genre. I loved spending time with these ladies, laughing along with our hilarious keynote speaker…and really listening.
If you want to learn, you listen. Mentoring happens along with relationship. In that weekend, these women offered valuable information in those small moments of food and conversation. Questions I didn’t even know to ask, they answered. And I took notes! God bless these ladies for caring enough to pour out small treasures and take time on many of us newer writers.
If you need mentoring, look small before you look big. Ask God for help and trust Him to bring it. Let’s pray together:
Where are you in your writing journey? What is your mentoring prayer today?