I recently interviewed a screenwriter and novelist and, like I usually do, I asked him about how he became a writer. After telling me about the creative writing he did in childhood, the future best-selling author told me he went to USC because one of his writing heroes taught there. At 19 years old, the writing idol became the future screenwriter's mentor, and has been for more than 20 years.
Most successful people I've met have told me they have or have had a mentor. Mentors groom you to become what they are. They see something special in you: Maybe it's talent, a willingness to work hard or possibly you just remind them or themselves when they were younger. But how do you figure out who should be your mentor? And, once you know who you want, how the heck do you ask?
I've heard a bunch of stories on this one. From those seeking mentors cold calling people and telling them how much they love their work, to an introduction by a mutual friend or just making a good first impression and having the guts to follow-up through email or a phone call.
It's scary but through what I've heard from others and my own experience, it's definitely worth it.
I have had several mentors in my life. In college, they were teachers. Now, I have a wonderful mentor who is a successful author. I have other advisers in my life who work in the business, but I also have people who I admire and respect for other reasons, professional and otherwise, who I have reached out to or vice-versa and thus made a connection. I'm so grateful to these people.
Through meeting for coffee and just talking, sending emails, Facebook messages or having phone chats, mentors have taught me so much and also helped me believe in myself. I still haven't figured out what mentors I've had have gotten out of the relationship, but am so grateful they took me under their wings. If not for them, I wouldn't be where I am.
So, mentors are awesome. Do you have a mentor or mentors? If not, what are you waiting for?