How to Choose a Writing Mentor

You need a writing mentor.

Here’s the cool part: you can choose anyone.

Anyone! You don’t need permission to choose your mentor. You just need a stack of books.

Elizabeth George is one of my favorite authors. When I started writing, I wanted to write just like she does. I wanted to write for women.  I wanted biblical truth with personal stories. I wanted real-life application. So I read all her books. I studied her writing style–what subjects she wrote about, and how she formatted her studies. I even read the books she referenced. She was my writing mentor, and she didn’t even know it.

If you want to continue to grow as a writer who sells books, you need to be learning from a writer who sells books. You need a writing mentor.

Here’s what you need to consider when choosing your writing mentor:

  1. Choose someone in your genre of writing. You may love Amish fiction, but unless you want to write Amish fiction, you don’t want to pick Beverly Lewis. Go to a bookstore and figure out where your future book will be on the shelves. Then look around in that section and see who is already there. Choose one of those writers.
  2. Choose someone who has written a lot of books. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorites, but it’s the only book Harper Lee wrote. Even if I want to write like she does, she wouldn’t be a good choice as a mentor. You want to study an author, not just a book. You want to see how his/her writing has evolved. You want to read her most popular selling book and figure out why it sold so many copies. You want to read her least popular book and figure out why it sold so few copies.  If you want a career as a writer, pick someone whose career is writing.
  3. Then, choose someone your writing mentor reads and quotes. Once you’ve learned all you can from your writing mentor, figure out who his writing mentors are and learn from them. Does your mentor reference another author over and over again? Start there! Keep learning.
Choose a writing mentor. Learn all you can. Write it down in your writer’s notebook. Take advantage of all the experience of your favorite writer. It will make you even better. 

Comments

  1. Elizabeth George is my “want to be” writer too!

  2. Me too, Ashley! I devour her books … and then re-read them again and again.

    Great post, Sandra!

  3. I feel terribly un-womanly. The writer I admire most is D.A. Carson. 🙂

    • Sandra says:

      I heard Carson speak last weekend. He is certainly a good writer to learn from!

  4. Erin says:

    Sometimes finding a mentor can seem overwhelming or even impossible, but this post shows how simple it can be. Thank you!! 🙂