Mentoring and Feedback

Writing is such a solitary activity that it can sometimes feel like a daunting task and confidence can waver as the questions and doubts start creeping in.  It’s also really easy to get lost without a friendly guide nudging you in the right direction.  That’s where a mentor can be really helpful.

A good mentor should be able to help a writer with guidance and support.  I’ve met too many writers who’ve been told what to write and how to write it, and that’s just not my way.  What I do is to find out what each writer wants to achieve and to help them find a clear pathway to achieving that goal.

It takes time to write, and the benefit of having ongoing support is that time can be used constructively, and gentle nudges from a mentor can keep you on track and help to avoid long trips down dead ends.

See the ways I work with novelists below, but here is some feedback from my theatre work, both with writers and theatre companies:
Hi Jarek,
Thank you so much for meeting with me today! It is incredibly helpful to have you, essentially, as a mentor – because what you do is much more than just lead our writing workshops (although that would be quite enough in itself!).
I really appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into helping me to work out how I can develop my play ‘The Wall’. Because you know the industry so well, your list of contacts is invaluable, as well as the suggestions on how I may proceed in trying to get a production of my play. I look forward to reading more detailed feedback on how I could re-write the play and get the next draft done. I will follow up on the ideas we’ve discussed today in terms of how I could apply for funding, or get myself involved with a full blown company like Indigo, or perhaps even just start with a director like Laura-May. This is very exciting stuff, and I’m especially blown away by the possibility of maybe taking part in next year’s JOLT festival, with your help – so many thanks for bringing that option.
Alexandra Andrejevic-Bullock, Writer

Hi Jarek,
I cannot thank you enough for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and meet me. It was really great hearing about you, your work, and to discuss creatively. Being able to share creative ideas is exactly what an art community in Gloucestershire should be about and I am so pleased and grateful that you are so positive and passionate about theatre, writing and creating.
Your writing advice for the 8 Point Arc is exactly the structure that will transform our piece so thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, the same with your feedback about ‘TRACKS’, the ideas are really great and we will definitely be playing with them in our next rehearsal after Crash Night Cabaret. It is exciting to receive help, advice and ideas about the piece so that we can develop even more of a collaborative piece. I really like the ideas of the buzzers, I can see how that’ll be a lot of fun.
Yes, the ending needs a real sit down in thinking how we can invite the audience to join us somehow. It is no longer a memorial performance so we can take elements out and perhaps physically move to the pledge. many ideas floating around it’ll be good to have a good 5 hour rehearsal where we can play and move ideas around.
Again, thank you ever so much for your time, effort and ideas so far!
Laura-May Attwood, Director of Brick Door Theatre Company.

FEEDBACK FOR NOVELISTS

EMAIL FEEDBACK
Mentoring can take many forms.  It can be emailed feedback, which is what I’ve been doing with one mentee, Claire:
The course I attended with you and Andy was the motivation I needed to literally ‘KICK START MY NOVEL.’  It was never going to be easy, but your guidance and feedback has been such a bright light, you’ve really helped to steer me through and your attention to detail has been 1st class.  I’ll be busy trying to finish the last of the 1st draft and who knows if I’m lucky enough to get published one day, wouldn’t that be a great advert for you !!!

FACE-TO-FACE
Sometimes what’s needed is a meeting where I can work with a writer to clarify what they need to do, and to work out goals.  This is something I’ve done with several writers such as Rosemary:
Thanks so much for the session yesterday – really fired me up again on the book.  It made me realise I need to take ownership of my own book and to have more confidence in my own judgement.  It is always hard as a beginner – but I feel that I have learnt a lot over the last 2 years and perhaps hadn’t realised quite how much – even though there is a long way to go. It was good to hear that you went through the same on your first book. Thanks again for all the enthusiasm and your time.

STRAIGHT FEEDBACK
Often all that’s needed is honest feedback, sensitively given, with clear suggestions for improvements.  This is what I’ve done for a number of writers such as Babs:
Oh bother! All of your suggestions are good ones, and ones I’ll need to think about and work on – I’m kidding, of course – I’m really grateful for all the time and effort you have put into this. Thank you so much.

If you think I could help with your writing in any way just get in touch and I’ll see what I can do.

FEES: A two hour session can cost as little as £40, but I will agree fees depending on how much support you need.