Back when I first started my freelance writing career with a borrowed IBM Selectric typewriter (yes, I am that old), I had never met a professional writer of any kind. I didn’t go to journalism school. I learned everything I knew the way I had about many things in life: I borrowed books from the library and read everything I could get my hands on.
Even once I was more established and had built a steady stream of incoming work, I never looked into ways of connecting with other people who made their living with words. With three young kids and a home business, I never felt that I had the time.
In retrospect, I wish that I’d made the effort. When I finally did start meeting other writers through professional organizations, I felt as if I’d found my people. Almost without exception, they were supportive and kind, celebrating each other’s successes, sharing information about markets and editors, and otherwise helping one another out.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been very lucky to have had the freedom and flexibility that comes from being self-employed for the last 20+ years. But I think I would have been able to learn a lot from a mentor. And no doubt I missed out on the benefits that come from being surrounded by a community of likeminded people.
How do I know? When my kids were very young, I was lucky enough to stumble into a playgroup made up of other at-home moms. They were a tremendous source of practical help, companionship and psychological support. Being an at-home parent can be a very lonely gig. Getting together for a potluck meal once a week with that bunch of women probably saved my sanity.
All of this is to say to you other women out there, that you might want to consider looking for a mentor and/or acting as one for someone else.
You can find some tips on how to get a start on the former in this piece I wrote for the Globe and Mail ‘s Globe Women’s Collective newsletter: ‘Eight Steps to Finding the Right Mentor’.
My heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so generously shared their time and expertise:
- Humira Ahmed, founder and CEO of the Vancouver-based company Locelle.
- Karen Simpson, president of Lean In Toronto.