What do bakers, dog-trainers, doctors, cooks, crane operators and The Beetles have in common? They need somebody to help. To come alongside, as in…an apprenticeship! So what about us writers, how about an apprenticeship for us?
I have run across a few instances of writing apprenticeships, but they are random and rare. Some schools consider an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) to be an apprenticeship. (Have you had experience with an MFA?)
An apprentice is one who is learning by practical experience under a master, and I haven’t had a master author walk with me through these many years, guiding my writing. However, my writing apprenticeship has consisted of a variety of helpers: mentors in writing courses I’ve taken, successful authors in writing and critique groups I attended each month, and authors who write books and blogs devoted to writing skills.
Last fall I signed up for an online spiritual writing retreat with author Vinita Hampton Wright. Through this group “mentorship” and one of the exercises, I made a discovery; it was good news and bad news. I realized I have a tendency to write when I'm excited, but when the excitement wears off I stop working. I love the enthusiastic part of the idea process and that initial burst of putting my original thoughts and explorations down on a page. But often, when I go back to it, the novelty has worn off and I have lost momentum and motivation. Because of this bad habit, I have many pieces I have started and abandoned. I am ashamed to admit this because it seems rather childish and undisciplined, but I have to hope that simply realizing this after so many years of writing is a step forward!
My advice to a new writer, especially one who is juggling many other responsibilities, would be that your apprenticeship very realistically could take 10 years or even more. During this time, you shouldn’t assume you are going to write a best-seller, or even anything publishable. Seriously consider getting a writing coach, which may be the closest thing to an apprenticeship. This is the route that I would have taken, had I realized that I would be spinning my wheels and wasting a lot of valuable time by trying to "do it myself." (And it’s not too late. I am looking for one, so if any of you readers are coaches, or can recommend one, let me know.)
Posted by Ramona
Photo credits:A shoe repairman and his young apprentice, Apprenticeship, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apprenticeship; Road to Emmaus, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, https://bloorlansdownechristianfellowship.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/road_to_emmaus.jpg