Brian J. Hatcher, HWA Mentor Program Chair
As we approach the last few weeks of the Mentorship Program for this semester, I have been pleased with what I’ve heard and experienced so far. I look forward to touching base with the mentors and mentees when the semester comes to an end, to see what is working and what we can change to make the Program even more useful.
I have received a few questions about the work-submission requirement I have added to the Program. I can understand why some might be confused. After all, the Program is supposed to teach mentees how to write. Why require mentees to submit a piece of writing before they have had a chance to learn?
My experience with the Program as a mentor (as well as my time as the Chair) has demonstrated that that the process slows down a great deal when a mentee goes into the Program cold, without having something for the mentor to examine right off the bat. That lack makes it difficult for the pair to get moving in a positive way, since the mentor and mentee must then waste a few months “getting to know” each other.
Also, having a piece of work by the mentee helps the mentor to focus his or her efforts on real advice the mentee can implement right away, instead of lobbing off a few shots in the dark, so to speak, hoping to hit something that will help the mentee.
Finally, and to my mind most importantly, learning how to do anything, physically or mentally, requires action as well as study. Direction means hardly anything without movement. You can read as many books on the subject of writing as you want, take all the classes you can find, even get a Master of Arts degree. But, until you sit down and start writing, you don’t truly understand what it is you are trying to learn. True learning comes from doing, from trying and failing, from discovering what you thought you knew but really didn’t, and applying lessons learned to new work.
So, if you’re ready to push yourself and your writing to the next level, start working on your submission now!