In this case, I’m talking about volunteering to mentor a new writer -- helping him or her with their manuscript. It can be anything from correcting spelling to plot development. It could even involve helping them write their query letter or synopsis, or searching for an agent.
If this appeals to you, consider looking at the writing groups you belong to, such as Sisters in Crime (or a group that covers the genre you write) or your critique group. Is there someone there who has mentioned needing help in some areas? Someone who's struggling? Could you offer to read some pages for them and give your advice? Maybe meet in person to talk? If you're the one who needs help, have you asked?
The local group of Sisters in Crime (the Heart of Texas chapter) does a May event where writers can sign up to be hooked up with a mentor. Mentees can also sign up to get a mentor. We only had two writers ask for mentoring.
This year I've been matched with a writer from San Antonio. She sent me her opening chapter and I've looked at it, made a few edits and sent it back. If we lived in the same town, we could get together to talk. As it is, we'll probably not meet up until the May meeting. At the meeting, there will be time for the two of us to sit and talk about her book or querying agents or whatever she wants to discuss.
There aren't rules that say the relationship has to go beyond the one meeting, but I suspect it will. That's left up to the mentor and mentee. I’m looking forward to meeting my writer.
What about you? Have you ever had a mentor or mentee relationship? How did it come about? What were the results?
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network's Editorial Services and writing coach. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its fourteenth year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, the contemporary fiction, Angel Sometimes. Two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe. Her next book, Dismembering the Past, is due out in 2013.