The Difference Between Teachers and Mentors

I had a writing teacher in college who didn’t like the topic of my short story. I wrote about a broken relationship between a son and his father, a relationship that stayed broken even after the father died. I called my story Someday Comes.

My teacher called my piece maudlin and negative. She attacked the content but had little to say about my writing skills. I don’t know her reason for hating my story (I do believe that she hated it). Maybe she was struggling with her own broken relationship.

I remember that teacher as one of the worst I’ve had, and if I learned anything about writing in her class it was to develop a thick skin. There will always be critics. If I weren’t somewhat thick-skinned to begin with, that teacher might have ruined my desire to become an author. I needed my teacher to also be a mentor.

A teacher is one who imparts knowledge and information through instruction and explanation. (From “The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring” by Martin Webster)

 Mentoring is different from teaching because it is as much about relationship as it is imparting knowledge. Mentoring takes place along with teaching in a trusted environment.

A good teacher is a trusted mentor. You can come to him or her with your thin skin and share your writing without fear of being cut down. A mentor offers constructive criticism about skill and content and at the same builds you up.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Young writers, inexperienced writers, and writers with thin skin are especially in need of good mentors. If you fit any of these categories and don’t have a mentor, you need to find one. Don’t be afraid to seek out published authors in your community and ask, “Will you help me to become a better writer?” If you don’t know where to find a mentor in your community, ask a librarian; their knowledge goes far beyond books.

Become a mentor!

If you are an experienced author, a teacher, someone who works in the publishing industry, then seek out the shy ones. You might contact a local high school or college and tell them that you want to mentor a student who is interested in a writing career. You could get together with other experienced writers and form an “each-one-teach-one” team. Set a time for your team to meet up with individual students. Then spend some one-on-one mentoring time and finish up in a group discussion with coffee or snacks.

The website Leadership Thoughts lists 15 qualities that good mentors possess. Check it out by clicking HERE.

Don’t wait.
Find a mentor, or be a mentor.

Until next time, Happy Writing!


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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Encouragement, Writing Tips

2 responses to “The Difference Between Teachers and Mentors

  1. Excellent advice, Jean! You’ve been a great encouragement to me as a writer. When you give feedback, it’s so appreciated and carries weight. I hope I can give a hand to the newbies in my life both as an author and as a Believer.

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