Tuesday, January 30, 2018

#Mentors by Diane Burton

credit: sustainablenonprofits.org

In almost every occupation, someone teaches a newbie. In some cases, the “someone” is ordered to do so by their boss. Many times, someone is willing to help. I’ve found both types. In one job I had, the person who was supposed to teach me the ropes resented it and taught me the bare minimum. In other job, a fellow employee delighted in teaching me what I needed to know to do my job.

My writing career has been an eye-opener. I cannot tell you the number of mentors I’ve had. (And if I named them, I would surely leave out someone, and I don’t want to do that.) More experienced writers shared their wisdom and knowledge when I was the newbie. People online—like the Roses here and other groups, yahoogroups like Marketing For Romance Writers, Authors Network, and more. Authors Helping Authors, an online support group started by our own Alicia Dean, strives to promote other authors. We know how hard it is to promote ourselves, and it’s so much easier to promote others. So we share tweets and Facebook posts. We invite each other to guest on our blogs. We write reviews.

Another online group I belong to is called Insecure Writer's Support Group. Since most writers are insecure, this group sums up our goal—to support each other. We “meet” once a month (like a blog hop), posting on our blogs then visiting and offering advice, commiseration, sympathy, and congratulations. This great group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Mid-Michigan RWA's Angel Award
 I’ve been fortunate to belong to the terrific Mid-Michigan chapter of Romance Writers of America, fellow writers who help each other. We offer workshops, along with “table” advice during our lunches. The best are the people who bolster the newbies. They’re never too busy to lend a hand. Our chapter recognizes those members who give exception service to the members as well as the chapter. Our own Margo Hoornstra is one of Mid-Michigan RWA’s Angels.
 
credit: fitandawesome.com

Sometimes, commiseration and sympathy aren’t enough. Sometimes, we need a kick in the rear. I’ve had that kinds of support, too. Getting down on oneself isn’t hard to do. Getting back up and starting again often takes that swift kick. A good friend, mentor, and fellow writer can do that. We know the trials and troubles another writer goes through.
  

They say what goes around comes around. When we offer support and encouragement to others, they are there to support and encourage us. Non-writers (especially those in the business world) have often wondered (in amazement) why we help our competition. Is it because we’re nice people? Well, yes. LOL But we also remember those who helped us and we’re paying it forward.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 16th and 30th of each month.

31 comments:

Leah St. James said...

So true, Diane! I also was amazed and heartened by the support of fellow writers when I first started out, and I found those "table" conversations sometimes more valuable than the formal writing programs. I've also had both kinds of mentors in the "real world." Thanks for the reminder of how lucky we are!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Here I go again. What Leah said. To sum it up another way, I’ve never met a writer I didn’t like. What a thrill it is for me to be an MMRWA Angel AND a part of the fabulous AHA AND, of course, this group of fantastic Roses. Lucky and then some.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Early on, I needed the guidance and support big time. One of our own here at the Roses, JL, was there when I needed it. Nowadays, I need the guidance and support much less, but knowing I have a body of authors behind me is great. All I have to do is put out a call and they come to the rescue.

RE Mullins said...

Writing is and isn't a solitary profession as your post makes abundantly clear. Most writers have a network of people they rely on to give advice, answer questions, and hold a hand when needed. Thanks, Diane for reminding us so we can thank them again.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Right on, Diane. The generosity of spirit in the writing world blew me away when I fist tiptoed in and still does.

Diane Burton said...

Leah, I agree about the casual conversation before/after the program to be so valuable.

Diane Burton said...

Margo (for those who don't know) was one of the founding members of Mid-Michigan RWA.

Diane Burton said...

Brenda, how great you had such support while starting out. Me, too. And having them at our "beck & call" when we need help is wonderful.

Diane Burton said...

RE, I'm glad you mentioned how writing isn't always a solitary occupation. Without those supporting us, I don't think we could be as effective as we are.

Diane Burton said...

Mac, you are so right.

Betsy Ashton said...

Years ago, I was proud to be featured in MY LIFE AS A CORPORATE GODDESS, where we talked about our mentors in Corporate America. We also talked about how we were sharing those teachings forward.

I remind people daily that writing is not a competitive sport. If we help one writer, it does NOT mean we are taking away from our own potential sales.

Jannine Gallant said...

I love knowing my author pals have my back, and I'm always happy to boost them up when they need a little support. It's what we do for each other and what makes this journey even more rewarding.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Authors are quintessential pay-it-forward folks. Some of you have been in the biz for longer than I have (17 years), so you've seen so many newbies enter the loops, asking the very same questions asked by every quaking first time published writer. Patiently we give help where we can, encouraging, offering articles, coursework titles, conference tips...goes on and on-always careful to help them build confidence and independency. I've come to think of it as I did as a teacher. These contacts/lessons are a part of our legacy...what we leave behind of ourselves, besides our books. And guess what, today, at Starbucks I'm meeting with two women (in separate meetings), who crave advice and/or critique of their work. One is a newly retired English prof at Cal Poly. She sounds scarily like me :-)...but just getting started on writing. Yup, it takes some energy and time, but thinking like a teacher, I call it worth it.

Vonnie Davis said...

I've been helped a lot along the way and tried my best to mentor others. This is a tough business. Since we all write in different styles, heat levels, and genres, we aren't helping our competition because we each have our own voice. Even so, we still adhere to the same writing rules and need that same spark of creativity.

Diane Burton said...

Betsy, you are so right. The generosity of mentors is phenomenal.

Diane Burton said...

Jannine, it is rewarding. I am so happy when someone I've helped succeeds. This group does so much to support each other.

Diane Burton said...

Rolynn, like you I was a teacher--not near as long as you were/are. But once a teacher, always a teacher. I hope the ladies you meet with today appreciate the time you're taking with them. Time you could be writing. You are an example of all who pay-it-forward.

Diane Burton said...

Vonnie, you are right about this being a tough business. I'm encouraged by all the support I see around us.

Andrea Downing said...

I've met some wonderful fellow authors both on line and in person, most of whom are glad to share their knowledge and connections. But, as you say, there are those who hold back and, unfortunately, I've had experience with an absolute viper. Still, for the most part, authors are, indeed, very nice people.

Alison Henderson said...

I don't know where I'd be without the help of writing mentors, but it wouldn't be here! In return, I try to offer support to others whenever I can. When I was working, my greatest pleasure was mentoring my young employees--I was the official "Office Mom." I still like to "mom" at every available opportunity.

Diane Burton said...

Andi, how awful. I'd forgotten about snakes in the grass. You're right, they do exist, and they leave bad memories.

Diane Burton said...

Alison, you make a good "mom." Perhaps it's our nature (as women) to be nurturing. Most of the authors I know are women. But once I joined Insecure Writer's Support Group, I found men who are just as compassionate, just as supportive.

Alina K. Field said...

It's pretty amazing the way romance authors help each other! I hope that continues into the future. I hear other genres aren't as friendly.

Great post!

Maureen said...

I've found the support and guidance from other authors invaluable. Great post!

Lucy Naylor Kubash said...

I’m not sure where I’d be writing-wise without the support of other writers. I’m sure I’d still be writing, but it would be a lot more solitary and not nearly as much fun.

Nancy Gideon said...

What you said, Di!!! In spades. I've found generous help and support in times of need that just were suddenly there, without even asking. But never be afraid to ask! I've rarely stumbled over someone who was stingy with their knowledge and experience.

Patricia Kiyono said...

I can't imagine where I'd be without the help and advice of my fellow writers. I certainly wouldn't have so many completed manuscripts or have the social media support. And the more I reach out, the more I receive. It's an awesome fellowship. I'm in many of the same groups as you are, so I agree with everything you said!

Annette said...

There are so many things about writing that a writer needs to know that only another writer who is farther down the path can relay. You are part of that generousity to others that makes Mid-Michigan such a special chapter. Happy Writing, Annette

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Wonderful post Diane!
Writers usually are very open about helping each other
Good luck and God's blessings
PamT

Alicia Dean said...

AH, love this post. I'm honored to be mentioned. AHA is a fabulous group, because of its members. And, Roses of Prose and my local OKRWA chapter and many others have done exactly as you said, mentored and supported and prodded when necessary. I don't think of other authors as my competition. If a reader loves their books, then maybe they'll love mine too. There are plenty of readers for all of us!

Rohn Federbush said...

A lady and writing professional, you are an inspiration to all of us.