My first writing mentor found me when I was twelve. Miss Oliver, my eighth grade English teacher. She forced me to write an extra essay in English a week because my parents told her I was bored in class. At first, I thought she was punishing me. Now I know, it was quite the opposite.
I would not be the writer I am without mentors.
Miss Oliver gave me the tools I needed to continue writing long after I left that school. I can trace who I am now and the work I do to the day she called me to the front of the class to say, “I have an idea to keep you from being bored in class.”
I fell in love with writing because of her.
Since then, I have had a host of amazing mentors, from Nancy, my first-year college writing teacher to Lindsey and Ed, who encouraged me as I wrote my first book to the writer’s who offer feedback on my essays and gently encourage me to submit my writing, finish my books and cheer me on as I teach, mentor and editor other writers at retreats.
Now you can find YOUR writing mentor through my 2017 Writing Mentorship Exchange
So today, in order to offer other writers some of the benefits I’ve received, I launch my fourth annual Writing Mentorship Exchange for women and non-binary folks!
It’s not easy finding guidance and opportunities to write, publish and further your career. If you don’t have the time, money or access, this is for you. If you’ve found yourself blocked because of your race or gender or any aspect of your identity, this is for you. I designed this writing exchange for you to find resources in a safe and supportive space.
Now you have the opportunity to work with one of ten amazing writers and reap all the benefits having a mentor offers.
We have a total of 20 hours of mentorship covering business and resume writing, journalism, comedy writing, blogging, photography, young adult books, fiction writing, pitching and submitting your work, social media and more. This is an entirely free program. No fee to apply or when you spend your hour with your mentor.
Nine proven benefits of working with a mentor
Studies show that those who have mentors advance significantly faster than those who don’t. What more does mentoring do for you?
- Provides accountability
- Gives you feedback and teaches you how to incorporate that feedback into your work and career
- Shows you’re not alone
- Facilitates faster problem solving
- Helps you choose goals
- Keeps you focused on your goals
- Teaches you how to speak and be heard
- Builds your network
- Increases your self-confidence
In short, mentors help us dream bigger, push ourselves farther and keep us working until we achieve our big fat scary goals.
I started this program as a way to give to others what has been invaluable to me and my career. I want to hear more of your voices and experiences. I want to hear your stories and designed this mentorship program to support others as they build confidence to write and publish more.
How many mentors should you have?
No one person can be everything in a mentor. It would be unfair to ask that of anyone. That, and you want mentors who will be able to give you advice on a variety of topics. There’s the business of writing. There’s input on your fiction. There’s someone to tell you how to publish your book or how to start copywriting. And so much more.
The mentor-mentee relationship is a delicate dance. It’s a friendship, but it’s work based. It’s there for support, but also to show you that you must learn to stand on your own. Mentoring is also a reciprocal relationship. You give back to your mentor in addition to receiving. It’s not a one-way street.
This mentoring exchange is to help begin the process.
How to Apply for the 2017 Writing Mentorship Exchange?
This year — the fourth year of the exchange — we have ten amazing writers who have offered their time and expertise to support you and other writers as you learn and grow. Ten experts on everything from young adult to science writing to fiction and resume writing signed up to offer their knowledge for a grand total of 20 hours of mentoring.
You have a chance to work with one of these mentors for one hour to focus on your writing challenges and ideas.
It is a fairly extensive application, and you are not required to answer all questions. The more information you give, though, the easier it will be for me to know what kind of mentoring support would most benefit you and match you with a mentor.
Once the sign-up period ends, I’ll read through applications and choose 20 people to work with the mentors. I will let you know if you’ve been chosen and connect you with your mentor by the end of June, 2017.
When matches are made, you’ll work with your mentor to find a time to meet. Most meetings take place online through Skype or other video conferencing.
Introducing this year’s mentors:
This year we have an incredible group of mentors joining the Exchange. I am eternally grateful to them for gifting their time, attention and support to this exchange. The names you see on this list have founded magazines, written books, write for and appear on television and generally kick ass in all possible ways.
I am humbled that they have agreed to be part of this year’s exchange, and without them, this mentoring opportunity simply would not exist.
ASHLEY NICOLE BLACK is a writer and correspondent on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. She dropped out of a PhD program at Northwestern University to study comedy at The Second City. Thank God it worked out.
MELISSA BLAKE is writer based in Illinois with a background in both digital and print media. My work has also appeared most recently on The New York Times and Glamour, where I wrote about disability issues. I’ve also written for Cosmo, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Marie Claire, POPSUGAR, YourTango, HelloGiggles, The Establishment, The Frisky and in Redbook (print edition). I also write the blog So About What I Said, where I cover relationships, disabilities, lifestyle and pop culture. I’ve written extensively about my life with a physical disability and my father’s suicide. I’ve also covered the pop culture realm of TV, movies, and music. With more than 3,000 subscribers and 2 million page views, I’ve built a community of strong, engaging and passionate women, both on the blog and across social media channels.
DARLENA CUNHA is a freelance writer with bylines in TIME, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, The New York Times and scores more. She holds a masters in mass communication from the University of Florida and teaches journalism, digital media and public relations there.
ANJALI ENJETI is an award-winning essayist, journalist and literary critic who writes about books, race, culture, and social justice. Her work has most recently appeared in Longreads, Vice, NPR, Quartz, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Rewire News, Fusion, Google Books, Pacific Standard, NBC, The Guardian, The Literary Hub, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Her essay “Borderline,” which appeared in Prime Number Magazine, was named a notable essay in Best American Essays 2016. She is on creative nonfiction faculty at the Etowah Valley Writers Institute, the low-residency MFA program at Reinhardt University, and is a newly elected board member of the National Book Critics Circle. Follow her on Twitter.
POLA HENDERSON is a travel writer, city explorer, expat, and event host. Besides Jetting Around, she has written for CNN, Yahoo, Expedia, MasterCard, among others. Traveling has been a part of her life since she was three. Happily multicultural, Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for many years and is currently based in Paris, where she teaches Business English.
ANNA MARCH’s essays, fiction, reviews, reading lists, interviews, poetry, playlists, diaries, and commentaries have appeared in a wide variety of publications including The New York Times Modern Love Column, New York Magazine, Tin House, VQR, Hip Mama and Bustle. She writes regularly for Salon and The Rumpus, where she also has a weekly books column, “Anna March’s Reading Mixtape”. She frequently writes on topics in the political/popular culture related to intersectional feminism, sexuality and gender with an emphasis on the power individuals have to effect change through ordinary actions. She has received three Pushcart Prize nominations. She is co-founder of Roar: Literature and Revolution by Feminist People, founder of LITFOLKS, a literary hosting organization in L.A. that is expanding to D.C. this fall and on the Advisory Board for Literary Orphans and Angels Flight Literary West. She has completed a novel, “The Diary of Suzanne Frank”, is at work on an essay collection, “Feminist Killjoy”, and is nearing completion of her memoir, “Happy People Live Here”. You may keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter.
DEESHA PHILYAW is the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce, written in collaboration with her ex-husband. Her writing on parenting, race, gender, and culture has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Full Grown People, brevity, Dead Housekeeping, The Establishment, Catapult, ESPN’s The Undefeated, and elsewhere. Deesha’s work includes a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016. At The Rumpus, Deesha inaugurated and curates an interview column called VISIBLE: Women Writers of Color. Deesha is a Fellow of the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction.
LAURA ROBINSON is a copywriting and content marketing coach. After earning a First Class degree in Business Management, she began her career in a large financial services company, working in various roles including Project Management, Marketing, and Communications. Realizing that she could no longer tolerate the suspicious brown liquid dispensed from the ‘coffee’ vending machine, she liberated herself from her office cubicle and embarked on a new life as a freelance copywriter. With seven year’s experience and an Award in Direct & Digital Marketing under her belt, Laura now uses her knowledge and skills to help small business owners create customer relationships using the words on their website and blog. Read more about how you can use your words to build relationships on her Worditude website.
SIMRAN SETHI is a journalist and educator focused on food, sustainability, and social change who has written for publications including Smithsonian, The Wall Street Journal, Guernica and The Guardian. She is an occasional correspondent for the NPR food program “Good Food” and the author of Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love. The book tells the story of changes in food and agriculture through bread, wine, chocolate, coffee and beer, and was named one of the best food books of 2016 by Smithsonian. Simran is also the host and creator of The Slow Melt, the first podcast on the continuum of chocolate.
LEIGH SHULMAN is a writer and educator focused on travel, writing, parenting and the convergence of the three. She runs The Writer’s Process, an online academy for people to build writing skills, find your community and learn to make money with your words. She is also the founder of Creative Revolution Retreats, international writing retreats for women and gender non-conforming folks to write and finish their books. Leigh’s work has been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Vox, Business Insider and more. Her latest writing how-to book The Writer’s Roadmap: How to Organize Your Writing Into a Career in forthcoming September 2017.
AWANTHI VARDARAJ is a writer, editor, and journalist living in India. She self-published her first book of poetry at the age of sixteen, entitled ‘Soft as Nails’, and says that she has been writing ‘all her life’. Although her main beats are food, travel, and feminism, she has also written extensively about other social justice issues, and specializes in writing personal essays, which she now teaches. She has written for NPR, HeadSpace, Brooklyn Mag, GOOD Inc, Paste Magazine, and Modern Salt, among others, and is a columnist for The Indian Express, a national Indian newspaper, and Wear Your Voice Mag. She is currently writing her first novel in the high fantasy genre. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter, and read her website here.
JUDY MOLLEN WALTERS is the author of five self-published novels dealing with women and their families, as well as an essayist whose work can be found on WaPo, HuffPo, SheKnows, and Spring. St websites, to name a few.
How are mentees chosen and matched with mentors?
Your answers on the mentoring application help me make the matches. I factor in your writing, your past work, the challenges you face as a writer and then connect you with a mentor whose skills and experiences best match your needs and experiences.
Once the mentor-mentee matches have been made, you’ll work directly with your mentor to schedule one hour for you to meet.
What previous year’s grantees of these mentoring hours have said about their mentoring experiences:
Being a freelancer is tough, especially when you feel like you don’t have any guidance. I became a freelancer right out of college, and there were certain lessons I hadn’t learned yet. In just an hour, my mentor explained to me the best way to handle my brand and develop my voice. She helped me define my strengths and explained how to use them to my advantage. She additionally connected me to a community of writers to help support me as I move forward. I finally feel confident that I can survive as a freelance journalist.
I’m a blogger and freelance writer and I am struggling with confidence to pitch and self-doubt with my writing and I was lucky to meet my mentor. We arranged an online chat session and she was very encouraging and helpful with tons of advice and resources. She also introduced me to a strong and supportive writing community.
My writing is a work-in-progress and I find myself struggling with confidence which leads to procrastination. My mentor was very supportive in helping me feel that I am not alone in my situation and there are people that I can reach out to for advice.