Learn about how the mentorship program works and explore our frequently-asked questions

How does the mentorship program work?

How many sessions do you recommend for a first-time engagement?

While we set up our mentorships as ongoing programs, billed at the end of each month, we recommend that writers plan on engaging in their first mentorship for 12 sessions. This amount of time will allow them to set a meaningful goal and begin to develop their creative writing practice.

At what age do writers typically begin mentorships with Young Inklings?

Writers are welcome to enter the program once they are 9. The typical age to begin the program varies. Elementary students often focus on writing short stories and poems. Middle school writers often develop and draft a first novel or work on pieces to submit to contests. High school writers are often interested in completing and publishing a novel. Each writer’s goal and interest varies, however, and our program is set up to meet customized needs.

How long do writers typically remain in the mentorship program?

Many of our youth writers continue in their mentorships over a number of years, the way that dancers progress through many levels of classes over time. Longer-term writers in our program first move upward through the mentorship growth stages, and once mastered, set their own goals as they progress onward. We also offer leadership opportunities, such as our Peer Leadership program inside Inklings membership, and our Youth Advisory Board.

How does scheduling work?

We set a regular time for your sessions, such as Monday at 4 pm. We recommend weekly or bi-weekly sessions, as this cadence allows writers to maintain momentum. Bi-weekly sessions can be helpful for writers working on larger projects, giving them ample time to draft between meetings. We offer monthly sessions as an exception in special circumstances. Should you need to miss a session, we ask that you let us know at least 24 hours in advance. In this case, we skip the scheduled date and pick up at the next regularly scheduled time.

How do you choose a mentor to match with me?

In your application, you’ll share your writing interests and goals. We use this information, plus your scheduling parameters, to choose a mentor who will be a strong match with you. We will send you information about your mentor before your first session.

We ask that you give your new mentorship a couple sessions to determine if it is indeed a strong match. While it doesn’t happen often, if you feel a mentor isn’t the right fit, we will use what we learn about what didn’t work to match you with a new mentor.

May I work on a story I’ve already started?

Absolutely. To begin, your mentor will explore the big-picture of your story concept with you to see what aspects you’ve fully developed, and where a helpful starting place may be. From there, you will work on characters, world-building, or plot, to ensure you have a solid foundation for the story, and then continue drafting. As you draft, you’ll work on specific skills that apply to the scene at hand, such as various aspects of dialogue, conflict, or interior monologue.

We plan for up to 15 minutes of editorial reading per mentorship session. Should you need your mentor to read a longer section of your work, we can provide a quote for how many hours that reading will take. We bill $50/hour for editorial reading time.

What if I don’t have a writing project right now? What will we work on?

To begin, you will create some short pieces that allow you to explore concepts and build skills. You might create a series of character profiles, develop a world with a map and listing exercise, play with poetic forms, or write a few short scenes. After you develop a collection of material, you’ll review that material with your mentor to decide what project you may want to create and your skill-development goal for that project.

Do I have to share my work publicly?

We offer readings each semester because they offer you a real-world reason for revision. When revising, instead of asking whether a piece is good or bad, writers ask themselves: “How might I more fully create the reading experience I want to create?” Your real-world audience gives you the target you need to make your revision decisions, and also the motivation to continue to challenge yourself as a writer.

That said, some writers prefer to share their work only with a family member or friend, especially as they begin their creative writing journey. If that’s the case for you, you and your mentor can choose a mentorship session to invite your chosen supporter(s) to, and the best way for you to share your work in that session.

What does a typical session look like?

We typically start our sessions with a check-in about the writing you’ve done since our last session. Next, it’s time for a warm-up that awakens creative thinking, such as a game or a quick writing prompt. After that, your mentor will guide you through an activity that will further your chosen project and also explore a specific skill. At the end of your session, you’ll reflect on the day’s skill and consider how you might continue to apply it in your writing. You’ll also set a goal for what you’ll write before your next session.

I’ve written a couple stories in school, but I’m really just starting as a writer. Is that okay?

What you need to succeed in an Inklings mentorship is the curiosity and motivation to grow as a writer. Your mentor will help you determine your writing strengths and support you in choosing a starting place that builds on those strengths.

I’ve been writing for a long time, and consider myself an advanced creative writer. Will a mentorship be a good fit for me?

At certain levels of mastery, writers hit plateaus and may not have a clear path forward. Those moments are perfect times to seek outside collaboration. Your pro-mentor has experienced these plateaus themselves along their growth journey, and they know that at some point, they’ll hit another one. Developing as a creative writer is a lifelong learning process, after all! Your mentor will be that essential collaborator to help you see what you can’t yet see about your next growth steps. Think of your mentorship as an apprenticeship, where you have the opportunity to work with another craftsperson who can offer you an outside perspective and a new set of strategies to continue your journey onward.

I want to publish my book when I finish it. How does that work?

We offer a publishing program that starts with editorial revision under a mentor’s guidance. After revision, we publish through our Fresh Ink publishing imprint. You can begin the Fresh Ink program once you’ve finished a draft of your novel. You also have the option to do the revision aspect of the program and to self-publish if you prefer. More information on our publishing program can be found here.

Spark your creativity!

Subscribe to our monthly Ink Splat for an exclusive author interview, a writing challenge, and other fun (and free!) goodies, curated especially for youth writers.

As a bonus gift, we’ll send you an Inklings Starter Kit packed with creativity-sparking fun.