How mentoring works

What is mentoring?

Mentoring consists of an hour-long, one-to-one session with one of our expert mentors. Your session will focus on how best to help you, whether you are at the start of a project and seeking ways to develop your craft; working on a manuscript and needing advice on a particular issue; or are seeking feedback on a finished piece of work and wondering about next steps.

Your mentor will read an extract of your work in advance, in order to discuss your project in detail during the session. For poetry, you can send 1 – 6 poems, not exceeding 240 lines in total. For non-fiction or fiction, you can send up to 5,000 words. We ask you to email us this work no later than a week in advance of your session. We also recommend including one short paragraph about the aims of your project, and anything in particular you’d like support with.

Mentoring works best as a sustained relationship over a period of time. Your mentor will be able to support you through the writing and rewriting process, and to offer feedback and advice as you progress. If you’d like to book several sessions, we recommend leaving a gap of two-to-four weeks between each meeting. This is so that you will have time to reflect and implement the ideas you have developed, before seeing your mentor again.

How does mentoring differ from other services for writers?

Unlike a creative writing class or group feedback session, mentoring usually takes place one-on-one. Mentoring is an opportunity to receive in-depth advice on taking your work forward.

A mentor is not an editor or agent – they won’t correct your work or make artistic decisions for you, and mentoring does not guarantee a route to publication.

Mentoring also goes beyond a one-off manuscript assessment. There is the potential to share your writing and explore new ways of working over a period of time. Rather than receiving a verdict on a finished product, mentoring will help you plan, make and measure your progress.

Some of our mentors also offer coaching sessions. Coaching sessions take place without the mentor reading an extract of your work. Rather, through questions and discussion with your mentor, you will identify difficulties, re-frame habits and received ideas, and find a new way through that is rooted in your values and intentions.

Coaching sessions can be booked in the same way as mentoring sessions – please contact us after you have booked to specify that you wish to undertake coaching rather than mentoring.

Some of our mentors also offer group mentoring sessions for groups of two-to-three people. To find out more, please contact us.

For more information on other services in our Writer’s Toolkit please see our website.

Who is it for?

We offer mentoring sessions for writers of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. You might be at the start of your writing journey and seeking ways to develop your craft; working on a manuscript and needing advice on a particular issue; or have finished a piece of work and be seeking feedback and wondering about your next steps.

If you are under 18 and are interested in mentoring sessions, please contact us before booking on or call 01603 877177.

What can you expect from your mentor?

Your mentor will be able to offer feedback and guidance, helping you to set goals and plan how you’ll reach them. They are there to help you think of strategies and options to overcome blocks, develop a committed practice and to move your work forward. Our mentors share a wealth of expertise as writers themselves, and are an excellent source of support.

Mentors agree to read and provide feedback on an excerpt of your work in progress, research notes, or other written material that you would like to discuss during the session. Please check how much work your mentor is willing to read per session (details here), and don’t send more than this amount.

What can you expect from the National Centre for Writing?

We provide an online and telephone booking service, and can answer any queries you might have. Our team will handle all correspondence with mentors, including sending them your work. We host the sessions in our new mentoring room at Dragon Hall or via skype.

Our wider Writer’s Toolkit programme features many different ways to support and hone your writing. Please see our website for more information.

What do we ask from you?

In order to ensure your mentor has time to read your work and give it a thorough evaluation, we kindly ask that you send work to us no later than one week in advance of your session. Please note that, unfortunately, if you send your work later than this deadline, we cannot guarantee that your mentor will be able to read all of it. We also ask that you are on-time for your session, and let us know as soon as you can if you’re running late.

In order to make the most of the mentoring sessions, we recommend that you go into each session with a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Being clear on this and communicating it to your mentor will help them to help you.

When you send your work, a paragraph describing it in context is helpful; where it sits, issues you’ve had with the process, what you might like feedback on, anything else they might need to know to better read the work. Submitting the work in the best shape it can be, no matter how raw the work is, will be of great benefit. Dealing with errors, typos and grammatical things first will help your mentor see through the superficial mistakes to better advise you. If you would like a coaching session, you don’t need to submit any work.

Be honest about your difficulties; your mentor has likely trodden this path. Your job is not to impress them but to allow them to help you, even when things aren’t going well – especially then!

We also advise making the most of your feedback. Consider it indiscriminately, and don’t take it personally. Remember that your mentor is there to challenge you, and that feedback is part of the broader conversation with your mentor. Experiment with using their advice – did it show you new ways of thinking and approaching things? Remember that the work is yours and so ultimately, what you do with it is your decision.

Where do I sign up?

Each of our mentors specialises in particular type of writing – select ‘Choose your mentor’ from the sidebar on the left to find out more and book.

One hour slots are available to book online – £75 each.

Book three sessions with the same mentor together to receive a 10% discount – the discount will be automatically added to your basket or call 01603 877177 to arrange.