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How to Be a Good Mentee, Part 2 of 2

In the previous post, we talked about what mentoring/coaching is and why you might want one. In this post, we'll talk about your side of the relationship.

How to be a good mentee.

  • Spend some time thinking about your “wants” and “needs” in a mentor (a cheerleader, an accountability partner, someone to teach you craft, a listening ear, encouragement in querying or pitching, market info, a simple critique)
  • Discuss expectations up front
  • Be willing to hear criticism
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Spend some time thinking about what you want and need. We discussed some of those areas above. Like anything in life, you probably won’t get everything you want, so you might rank your desires on a scale of “must have” and “nice to have.”

Discuss expectations upfront, including page limits and how long you’ll take to get back to each other.

Let her know your goals and if you want her to help keep you accountable.

Be willing to hear the criticism. Don’t be defensive. Be open to criticism. It’s the only way you grow.

Interact. Ask questions. Be thankful and considerate of their time. Read their stuff if that works for the both of you and give them a “reader” feedback. Be an encouragement to them. Pray for them.

How to find a mentor.

Look in writing groups. Many of them have a system for connecting mentors and mentees. Go to writer’s conferences and talk to people there. Follow blogs to see who you connect with and what advice rings true for you. All of us here at Pencildancers do mentoring and coaching. Reach out to us.

How to say good-bye when it doesn’t work

  • Consider a trial period
  • Realize sometimes people just don’t click
  • Communicate honestly but graciously
  • Thank them for their time
  • Don’t burn your bridges

Sometimes you don’t click. Sometimes they don’t get your voice. Sometimes you’re not valuing the feedback you’re getting. The critiques don’t feel right. Sometimes people just get busy and don’t have the time for this anymore. Try not to take it personally.

One options is to go with a trial period. Try three chapters and a synopsis and see how it goes. Or some other specific piece you can evaluate the relationship on.

Discuss your expectations and desires up front. Communication is very important, even if sometimes it feels awkward. And while email and Skype and Facetime make it possible for people to connect in far wider geographic areas than normal, it also can remove the components of body language and tone. And all the emoticons in the world can’t make up for that. So sometimes it takes more effort and there’s more potential for misunderstanding.

It may take awhile for the relationship to click. But sometimes it just doesn’t. Either you can let the relationship drift away. Or bring it to a close more formally with a “thanks for your time.” Just don’t burn any bridges. While this seems like a big industry, the writing world is very small and you don’t want to say something that you might regret.

You may move through several mentors in your career as you develop different needs and strengths. But former mentors can continue to be great friends. And the mentoring and/or coaching relationship can be one that can accelerate your career in a way nothing else can.

Jennifer's latest books~ Coming Home A strong- willed young woman must discover her brother’s killer before she’s the next victim. The prequel, Be Mine, is also available. Can a simple thank you note turn into something more?

 Cover image of Coming Home by Jennifer Vander Klipp Cover image of Be Mine by Jennifer Vander Klipp

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