When we’re starting out in a field we know nothing about, we start to look to those who know more than we do for their expertise. For indie authors, this often means taking to social media in order to find advice from more seasoned professionals in the field.
In her book, How To Make A Living With Your Writing, thriller author Joanna Penn mentions that our mentors don’t have to know they are our mentors. They can be people that we look up to and wish to model our own careers from; people that we admire and learn from, from afar.
Although they are already more accomplished and knowledgeable than we are, we still have to choose our mentors carefully. The path of one person isn’t necessarily suited to another, and following the advice of the expert on a different path to the one we wish to tread may result in our own failure.
None of this is set in stone, however, we should always take a good look at the people we wish to take advice from and see if they really suit us as distant mentors. Here’s a few things I tend to look out for in a writing mentor:
Honesty in the context of absentee mentorship is not only important but a truly valuable tool for growth. Becoming a success involves doing things wrong and making mistakes, and in the beginning, we don’t know that we’re making these mistakes. However, learning that someone more knowledgeable has already made this mistake means we have the chance to avoid failure in some cases.
If a would-be mentor is honest about the ups and downs of their career, they provide an incredibly useful blueprint of the pitfalls they experienced. Better yet, if we ever get to speak to a would-be mentor and they ever give us personal advice, we should be grateful if they decide not to sugar-coat things.
Positivity is a feel-good attitude that can really benefit our state of minds, but as with anything, there’s a time and a place for it. Pretending that everything is going well and hiding mistakes is an indicator in a person that they believe mistakes mean unforgivable failure. There’s no shame in taking that stance, but it isn’t conducive to learning from our mistakes. Trying to stuff them away for nobody to see, including ourselves, helps nobody, especially ourselves.
Acknowledging the good and the bad is indicative of a balanced person who understands what it means to have a growth mindset. And that is the kind of person we want to look up to if we want to develop the same.
It’s a bit of a heartache to have to include this one, but unfortunately it’s necessary. With success comes scrutiny and sometimes, comments and accusations that are either uncalled for, untrue, or both. It’s an almost inevitable outcome, especially since the development of social media.
Authors who handle these challenges with grace rather than underhanded retaliations are absolutely remarkable. They appear to understand their value regardless of the opinions of others and that is no easy task. Being able to do this for ourselves means looking to people who can do this and learning from them. As we do, it wouldn’t hurt to support them during those difficult times, even if they don’t appear to need any help!
Thanks for reading! Did you know I also write urban fantasy books? Check them out here!