Bill Gates said in 2020 — “Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge player.” But let’s finish that sentence.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a writer. Or an illustrator. Or both.
Everyone needs a coach.
If you don’t immediately agree with me (or Bill) here are some benefits for you to consider. And if you do already agree with me, and are a member of the RMC-SCBWI, head right on over to read specifically about the Michelle Begley Mentor Program, a six month program that offers great value for investment, which I am thrilled to co-coordinate this year with Laura Perdew. The application is open until November 9, 2021 and this year we are offering a scholarship courtesy of the Writing Roosters and two grants!
Ongoing Critique and Feedback
I am part of two wonderful critique groups that meet regularly, yet working with a mentor is still a unique experience because *your work* and *your craft* are the entire focus of the conversation. Together you discuss your vision and over the course of multiple months, you bring that vision to light.
Improve your current work in progress
First and foremost, your mentor will work with you on a manuscript (or illustration portfolio) that you’ve been working on. As established professionals, they bring their expertise to your work and will help you develop it to be as strong as it can be. In my own mentorship with Anna-Maria Crum as my mentor, she helped me rework my plot and character motivation – my inciting incident was buried way down deep in my manuscript, and this reorganization immediately made my work stronger.
Improve your craft going forward
There will be countless elements of what your mentor points out in your work that you will be able to carry forward for years to come. Two personal examples — I learned about some of the weaknesses in my plot (build stronger motivation for action – no coincidences!) as well as in my dialogue (make sure my characters react to what is said as opposed to making unrealistic leaps in the conversation because the lines sound cool). It opened up my eyes not only to what I could improve in the novel we were discussing, but what I could carry over to every scene I’ve crafted since.
Coaches can help you set realistic goals
Our mentors have been there, done that, but the fact is that every artistic creator is different. A mentor can talk through your process and experience and help you set goals for your work – goals that are within your control and that you will meet during the course of the six months. Which leads us right to…
Having a coach is motivating
Coaches give you deadlines. They are there, waiting and expecting for you to work with them. They are looking forward to seeing your progress. And having that built in accountability can do wonders.
There are many other reasons to have a coach, and many personal experiences about successful mentor/mentee relationships. Read testimonials here about what others have gotten out of the Michelle Begley Mentor program, and share in the comments some of the benefits you have experienced in working with a mentor (or being a mentor!).
**Reading this after 11/9/21? Join us next time – the application period for the Michelle Begley Mentor Program is typically October through November 1.