I still email with him several times a year. For three years, I sat in writing classes with him, talked over coffee in his office, and had enriching conversations about books and music. But for fifteen years longer than that, we’ve been friends, and while I can’t articulate exactly how, my writing still bears the fingerprints of the time of intensive mentorship I spent in his class.
Professor Mark Brazaitis, director of the MFA in creative writing program at West Virginia University, is my writing mentor and friend, but he is also an author of fiction and poetry that is profoundly beautiful. He portrays character relationships with such quiet subtlety that every gesture is shot full with meaning, and every story leaves you with immense empathy for the people whose intimate moments you have just witnessed.
I believe there is something of that same power in my own work. I also believe that Mark is one of many great writers who have equipped me to mentor others.
I know the encouragement and skill that can come from having a writing mentor. Of course, the thing that ultimately improves your craft is writing often, and you can do that alone anytime. But having a friend in your corner who cares not just about your work but you as well can be life-changing. It can not only improve your writing but give you new ways of thinking about your work.
That’s why I started the Writing Mentorship service at Inkling Creative Strategies. Over the past three years, it’s helped to give writers direction for their work, inspire confidence, and help them discover specific strengths and weaknesses of their writing.
Mentorship graduates have also gone on to publish stories and poems, many of which started life in the program.
The Writing Mentorship is a six-week program during which we explore your writing interests, discuss the elements of craft that most interest you, and discuss feedback on writing that you will submit weekly.
The ultimate goal is that by the end of the six-week program, you will have produced a draft of a story, group of poems, essay, or novel chapter that you can continue working on.
Also, if you’re enjoying the program and want to continue for another six weeks, you have the option to renew.
As an experienced author and writing coach, I have seen firsthand the benefits of having a mentor to guide and support writers on their creative journey. With the holidays coming up, I believe it’s the ultimate gift for any aspiring writer.
After all, while books make a great gift, too, you do have other options. 😉
Mentorship Lets You Nurture and Develop Ideas
If you’re like any of the other writers I’ve worked with, you have a million ideas swirling around in your head like a dust storm, and sometimes settling on one is a real challenge. Even if you do, it’s easy to get distracted by the shiny object of another idea, and the next thing you know, you’ve moved on to something else, abandoning your first project in the corner of your documents folder.
One of the key benefits of my program is the ability to nurture and develop ideas in a supportive and creative environment. During our six-week mentorship, I will work closely with you to uncover the gems within your imagination and help you shape them into compelling narratives.
Having a mentor to bounce ideas off of and provide guidance can be incredibly valuable for writers. Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh perspective to transform a vague concept into a captivating story. Therefore, I’ll guide you through the process of brainstorming, outlining, and refining your ideas and provide feedback and suggestions to help you take your ideas to the next level.
With an Inkling mentorship, you'll have the opportunity to explore different approaches, discuss plot twists, and delve deeper into your characters' motivations. My goal is to help you find the essence of your story and bring it to life in a way that resonates with readers.
Boost Your Confidence in Your Writing Skills
I haven’t met a single author who didn’t struggle with a lack of confidence. What if my writing is a waste of time? What if I make a mistake? This sounds so stupid...are people even going to care?
It's easy to doubt yourself and feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. That's where an Inkling writing mentorship can be a game-changer. My mission is to help writers reach their full creative potential so they can impact and inspire readers, and helping them gain more confidence in their work is often the first step.
Each week, I’ll provide personalized feedback and guidance to help you hone your writing skills. Whether you’re improving your prose, developing your storytelling abilities, or refining your voice, I’ll offer support, encouragement, and tangible advice for improving your work in specific story elements.
I'll help you identify your strengths and work on areas that may need improvement while providing a safe place to experiment and take risks with your writing as you tackle new challenges and growth.
Guidance on Getting Started
Starting a writing project can be daunting, especially if you need help figuring out where to begin. This also has nothing to do with skill level—I still feel a little intimidated every time I have to start something new. One thing I definitely know is that all writers need guidance on how to get started and turn their ideas into compelling stories.
During our six-week program, I help writers navigate the early stages of their writing journeys. Whether you have a vague concept or a fully formed idea, we'll work together to outline your story, develop your characters, and create a roadmap for your project. I’ll provide practical advice on structuring your story, establishing your setting, and crafting engaging dialogue.
In addition to the technical aspects of writing, we'll address any fears or doubts you may have. I’ll help you overcome any mental blocks or creative obstacles that may be holding you back. From finding your writing routine to conquering writer's block, we'll equip you with the tools and strategies to start writing confidently.
With our guidance on getting started, you'll feel empowered to dive into your writing project headfirst and overcome the obstacles that may have been holding you back in the past.
Tips from an Experienced Author
Once you've nurtured and developed your ideas, boosted your confidence in your writing skills, and received guidance on how to get started, it's time to dive deeper into the writing process with some tips from an experienced author. I understand the challenges and hurdles that come with the creative process, which is why a big part of the Writing Mentorship is giving personalized tips and insights to help you create the best writing you can.
Throughout the six-week program, I will share my years of experience and knowledge to help you navigate the intricacies of writing. From crafting compelling characters to building tension and creating memorable settings, I'll provide guidance on all aspects of storytelling. Whether you need help with pacing, dialogue, or plot development, I'll be there to offer advice and suggestions.
But it's about more than just the technicalities of writing. I'll also share my insights on the writing life and offer strategies for overcoming common challenges like writer's block and self-doubt. I know firsthand how important it is to have a support system, and I'll be that cheerleader and sounding board for you throughout this program.
With my tips from an experienced author, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the craft of writing and the tools needed to take your work to the next level. You'll have access to my expertise and guidance, allowing you to refine your skills and produce your best writing.
Produce a Completed Draft
By participating in an Inkling writing mentorship, you'll not only develop your ideas and gain confidence in your writing skills, but you'll also have the opportunity to produce a completed draft of a short writing process, whether it’s a group of poems or flash fiction or a story, novel chapter, or essay. This is the ultimate goal of our six-week program: to guide and support you as you apply what you’ve learned and bring your story to life.
There's something incredibly satisfying about reaching the end of a writing project and having a completed draft in hand. It's a testament to your hard work, creativity, and dedication and provides physical proof that you are indeed a writer. With an Inkling writing mentorship, you'll have the guidance and support to turn your ideas into a reality and produce a polished draft you can be proud of.
The best part? The journey doesn’t stop after the mentorship ends. You can continue honing your skills by revising your draft and eventually submitting it for publication in a literary journal or building it into a larger project that you can submit to agents or publishers or even self-publish.
How Do I Sign Up for a Writing Mentorship?
The Writing Mentorship program is currently open for enrollment for 2024! In fact, I’m running a special discount on enrollment for you or a loved one in December and January.
Yes, there are great books, writing utensils, software, and journals that you can give the budding authors in your life for the holidays. But one thing I’ve discovered is that experiences can make the best gifts. I always tell my parents to give me money to put toward registration and expenses for creative conferences I like to attend. Similarly, I gave my mom tickets to the Museum of Broadway last year as part of a New York trip we took, and she said it was the best Christmas present ever.
You can’t put a price—or wrapping paper and a bow—on new relationships and skills that can change a writer’s life. Get more information on the Inkling Writing Mentorship program at the link below!