Every writer at some point in his career needs an accountability partner and a mentor. Both help grow your career and make you a better writer. Some people get the two terms confused. Let me start by defining terms.
Accountability partners work together to achieve a variety of goals. Accountability isn’t unique to writers. Weight control groups and gyms offer accountability for success in achieving health goals. Partners report their weight loss or number of sit ups on a weekly basis. The end result of a successful partnership is not only achieving their weight loss or exercise goals but developing habits of good health that last a life time.
Mentors have gone before you. They have already achieved their goals. In the case of writers, they are published, know how to market and may even know the ins and outs of social media. They know what it takes to be successful A mentor guides and instructs writers to improve their craft.
Sometimes a mentor can hold a mentee accountable for reaching his goals and ask his mentee to do the same for him.
The one big difference: a mentor is usually farther along in his career. While an accountability partner can be on an equal level or a newbie. The end game is slightly different in each setting.
What to expect from an Accountability Partner
Accountability partners enter into a verbal agreement to report progress on a weekly basis. Each individual sets a goal for the week and then reports his progress at the end of the week. Accountability partners can also be critique partners. You each agree to critique portions of the other’s writing every week. Here’s where it can get sticky. Accountability partners need to be realistic. The burden has to be equally shared. If you want your partner to critique a chapter a week you better be willing and able to do the same for them. If you need your foot held to the fire for completing a certain number of pages or words a day then be sure to do your part.
Don’t abuse your partner. If she critiques your work, but you don’t have time to do the same, don’t bother to enter into this partnership. Hire an editor. It’s not fair to expect more from your partner than you have time to give.
How to best learn from your mentor
Mentors are wonderful things as long as you don’t rely on them too heavily. They’re not your personal editor or manuscript fixer. Don’t take advantage by expecting him or her to introduce you to their agent or open doors for you. It could happen, but that is not their job description. Mentors or coaches may give you assignments to help strengthen weak areas. If they do critiques for you, take full advantage by working hard to make your writing shine. Don’t throw rough drafts at them to fix. Instead present your best work for evaluation. That’s how you learn to improve your craft. Be open to their correction and insights.
The value of an accountability partner
Accountability partners are something you can keep throughout your writing career. The partner may change over time for various reasons. Many writers don’t work for a magazine or publisher who give them deadlines. Your partner becomes that deadline. Striving to give an honest report of goals achieved will keep you on track. You can create your own deadlines for creating submissions, editing and reading craft books by setting those goals with your accountability partner.
When you might need a mentor
Writers should continue to grow and improve. A writer can learn much from craft books, conferences and classes. There comes a time you might needed a mentor when one on one counseling and training will help you improve your writing, editing or marketing. Their goal: reproduce new outstanding writers.
Where are you in your career?
Do you need your foot held to the fire to achieve your goals or help perfecting your craft? Or both?
Love to hear your thoughts on mentoring and accountability.
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