Tuesday, May 22, 2007

5 Things You Must Look for in a Freelance Writing Mentor (Part II of III)

This is a continuation of yesterday's post, 5 Things You Must Look for in a Freelance Writing Mentor. In this post, we discussed two things you should look for, ie, tech-savviness and variety of projects.

Following are two more. The fifth thing will be discussed in the final post tomorrow. Without further ado:

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3. Specifics, Specifics, Specifics: As in, a specific answer to a specific question. Why?

The web is rife with general information, but if you've taken the time to ferret out a mentor, 9 times out of 10, you're serious about your career and want specific, tangible information you can act on.

So, find a mentor who will honor this. Now, that means some work on your part. What do I mean?

Many ask questions that can easily be researched on the net. Don't waste your mentor's time asking broad questions and/or questions that you can easily find the answer to yourself.

Remember, successful freelance writers tend to be fairly busy. In fact, anyone in a position to mention has achieved some level of success, which means they are probably pretty busy.

For an example of some great questions you might ask your mentor, read the article, FAQs: Starting A Freelance Editorial/Creative Business.

4. Give it to you straight: This piggybacks on the above-mentioned point, but I wanted to separate it out so that it's meaning is not lost.

You want a mentor who will give it to you straight. As in, "No, that's not going to work because blah, blah and blah." Or, one who will say, "I have no experience with that, but I'll find out. In the meantime, why don't you try X."

You don't want someone who feels like they have to know everything to be effective. If they don't know, you want them to own up to it. The writer was very specific in her questions, which allowed me to be very detailed in my answers.

Many mentors feel like they have to know everything - and, the truth is, freelance writing is such a vast field that it's impossible for him/her to do this.

Just as important as knowing the answer offhand, is being willing to find out the answer. And, this is what you're looking for - someone who will attempt to find out.

Successful freelancers usually have a vast network they can call upon - this is, in part, what makes them great mentor material.

Remember, mentoring is a two-way street.

You are not the wide-eyed student just waiting for your mentor to drop pearls of wisdom in your lap. To make sure that the mentoring relationship is beneficial, you must have a game plan of your own to steer it that way.

Like an interviewer in a presidential election, this means being prepared with the right questions.

In the last post tomorrow, I will reveal the number one thing you should look for in a freelance writing mentor - and why.

Tomorrow: Part III of this post will reveal the number one thing you want to look for in a mentor - and why.
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Paula Blanton said...

This is very good Yuwanda, thanks!

Inkwell Editorial said...

Thanks, Paula.