Other Cool Blogs: The Atlantic (10/1/2019)

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve not run into the term “distributed mentorship” before, but I’ve used it time and again to learn new items. One-on-one mentorship isn’t available very often in life. You can wait around forever for your boss to notice you among the dozen or so other employees the middle manager is overseeing in between writing reports and attending meetings with the bigger bosses. Getting the special friendship that provides a yellow brick road to success is a combination of natural extrovert friendship and luck.

Neither of which most writers have in abundance. 

Reading Ms. Becks article on “What Fan Fiction Teaches The the Classroom Doesn’t“, I discovered the term “distributed mentorship”. And Fan Fiction is the perfect example. By putting your stuff out there in a friendly, open environment, you can get feedback (nearly all positive). When you reading for some real constructive criticism (concrit), you can ask for it and suddenly people who have been practicing for year break out their expert hats and can tell you things like – don’t be too nice to the characters and need more description – in between sending you hugs and happy thoughts.

Wizard of Oz, original artwork 1900. In public domain.

What do new writers need most? (1) Something to write about that they are interested in. (2) Not getting caught up in worldbuilding, but do actual writing instead. (3) Get lots of support. (4) Get little bits of where to improve at a time instead of the firehose an editor uses. (5) Receive suggestions with multiple ways to improve, in case the solution presented isn’t the one for them. (6) Write for an audience. (7) Read stuff in the genre they are writing.

In short, the fan fiction environment.

A distributed mentorship environment where someone will have time one-on-one with you for a few minutes. And maybe tomorrow, someone else will have a different suggestion. And a third person tells you, you have done the best THING E.V.E.R. with their favorite character and could you pretty please continue your story.

Hawk – Publicity Materials for Buck Rogers

I’ve never gone the fan fiction route. By the time fan fiction was on the internet, I had moved beyond that stage of my life. (Though before then in my daydreams/writing, I walked beside Dorthy in Oz, operated the communication panel on the Enterprise, and got my first kiss from Hawk on Buck Rogers.)

Even so, I have leveraged distributed mentorship for most of my life, especially in my writing. First, attending conventions – where panel discussions are another excellent example of this type of mentorship. From there, I discovered Gail Martin‘s Thrifty Writers’ Publishing for Success Network and was lucky enough to be in a position to join. Also while attending conventions, I’ve networked into several editing jobs with publishers which in turn exposed me to different ways publishers want things.

And don’t forget just talking to person after person about writing and editing, an exchange of mentorship with suggestions, supports, and concrits shared back-and-forth.

Distributed Mentorship. Use it and share it. In your writing life, in your clubs, and in your day job. 



Beck, Julie. “What Fan Fiction Teaches That the Classroom Doesn’t”. The Atlantic. 1 October 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/10/how-fanfiction-improves-writing/599197/ (Last viewed 10/24/2019)