Monday, September 9, 2013

Mentors and the Mentored

By Karen Albright Lin

Having been both a writing mentor and a beneficiary of the gift of mentoring, I’d love to share what a mentor is, what role one plays, how to find one, and how to accept the generous guidance offered by one. 
A mentor is a trusted guide, one more experienced than you, one that has a level of success beyond yours, and one who can counsel you in developing your writing and your marketing.

Some “mentors” are hired. In my opinion, they are more accurately called writing coaches. Though I’m a coach and editor and believe whole-heartedly there is a place for such professionals, I’ve been lucky enough to mentor and to be mentored without money being involved. There’s tremendous satisfaction and appreciation in simply helping and being helped.
Before you seek a mentor, there are some things you should be aware of. Mentee etiquette. Test yourself to see if you have the right personality makeup and the right attitude going in.    

A Good Mentee
  • Is prepared to receive a wide range of advice
  • Welcomes potential for growth rather than feeling demoralized by critique
  • Always keeps control of his ideas and writing
  • Doesn’t slavishly follow every suggestion or lose his vision
  • Respects the mentor’s time
  • Doesn’t expect line edits from a mentor, instead seeks more global advice
  • Receives feedback gracefully
  • Doesn’t expect the mentor to do all the work
  • Reads suggested books
  • Is professional with a winning attitude
  • Avoids asking questions he could find answers for; does his research first
  • Also does her due diligence in finding a critique group/critique partner/beta reader
  • Lets the mentor know his feedback is helpful
  • Sends a gift and a copy of his book or article the mentor helped with
  • When ready, pays it forward to other writers
It is important to be an effective receiver of counsel. A protégé shouldn’t take unfair advantage of the kindness being offered. Remember the mentor has a home life and deadlines. She isn’t a babysitter. Be a good mentee. 

In the next post, I’ll address what a good mentor is and how to find one.  In the meantime remember: seek feedback from admired sources but don’t allow your voice to be combed out of your work.

About the Writer:  Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker and award-winning author of novels, cookbooks, and screenplays. She’s written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and PPW Contest. Find out more at



  1. Great advice and reminders. I have several writers I greatly admire who have encouraged me and I consider mentors in at least some sense of the word. Cheers to those (Pat Stoltey is one for me) that encourage us.

    1. You are one of the great ones. Appreciation is a big key to encouraging those who naturally want to help. Someday, if not already, you will be a great mentor! Karen

  2. Great post, Karen! You don't see columns like this (at least I haven't)! As I've mentioned before (and you've noted! :-] ) Moe Morris pops up in my words more than just casually, and I feel---though I considered Moe more than "just" a mentor, he was a friend---he did have a mentor aspect to our relationship. I loved "where he came from" (mentally) and how he helped me, and I'm sure, others. He had such a good head on his shoulders, and is still sorely missed. I hope there are more people like Moe out there....

  3. He sounds like a wonderful and generous man, one you were very lucky to have as a friend. I suspect he felt the same way about you Frank.
    Julie, we are lucky indeed!


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