Importance Of Role Models
When was the last time you read a book from cover to cover, closed the lid on the final page and sighed?
Do you remember that sigh?
How did it feel? What did it mean?
Was it a sigh of satisfaction with your read? A sigh filled with bittersweet joy over the finale?
I believe that sigh is the satisfaction you felt with the story and the desire to create work of equal quality. You were in awe of how good the characters were. Or how thorough the story structure was. Whatever impressed you about the author’s style, you want it for yourself.
And this is good, you should want it!
But with the population closing in on 8 billion, many of them writing, how can a writer rise above? How can a wordsmith distinguish themselves and gain mentorship from any of their writing idols? Does it even matter? Does an aspiring author need a mentor?
What Is A Mentor?
Google defines a mentor as an experienced and trusted adviser. On the count of whether you need one, tell me, have you ever started a job without training? How did it go? Exceptions exist to confirm the norm but being in a ‘sink or swim’ situation is stressful. A mentor may not be an essential part of your writing journey – but it could well be an invaluable one.
So now what? Is this going to be an ad for a Masterclass membership?
Rest assured – it is not.
It would be amazing to learn from renowned authors. But understanding your boundaries and what would be the best use of your resources is invaluable. If a Masterclass membership is out of your means (and mine for that matter) this is not meant to shame you. Instead, allow me to share the tools and resources I use instead. Free of charge – no membership required.
Between Google/YouTube, Reddit, SkillShare, etc. there are countless resources a writer can use.
Google is your gateway; all you need is the name of someone you aspire to write like. If you are fortunate, they have online lectures or interviews you may watch on YouTube. Your idol might have their own YouTube channel or SkillShare course too. And all it takes is a look around a few channels to get yourself a two-month free trial for SkillShare. Look online but seated in case you find exactly what you were looking for!
And this is not limited to those of us who write long-form. Be it for short stories, dialogue, or scriptwriting, there is no shortage of help available to you. Sure, you will have to look for it yourself, and be specific in your queries when you do. The information won’t be catered to you like in a thoroughly designed class. But the information is available if you know how to look.
Reddit often holds things called ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMAs for short) – and authors participate too. Nothing stops you from finding the latest or all AMAs done by your favorite authors. And nothing should.
But Roark, what do I do if I don’t have a role model or someone I look up to? Not to worry dumpling, I got you.
Finding Role Models.
This may have been a ‘me’ problem, but as a child, I didn’t have role models in the people I had around me. I looked up to fictional characters far more than my teachers. If it wasn’t fictional characters in the cartoons I absorbed it was heroes in mythology. Neither category would be easy to converse with…
As time went on, I grew up and my spheres of interest widened. I found that I grew to admire people alive today.
Avatar The Last Airbender series touched and inspired me. The series creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are alive, well, and creating. They’re active online and have countless interviews for me to watch. The same is true for famous authors like George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman. The more prolific an author, the more likely they are to have online resources. Those resources may be interviews from Comic-con conventions or a speech given to students at a university or professionals.
What do you love? Is it a show that’s airing? A series written years ago? A movie that is from a specific era? I encourage you to become familiar with the people who were behind the production of your favorite works of fiction. Beyond the usual suspects. Show-runners for a T.V. series are now recognized and become famous. However, there are writers that worked on specific episodes instead of the entire series. If that is the case, you should investigate who wrote which episode. You may recognize names from different series, movies, etc.
Before you know it, you’ll have gone down a rabbit hole of research and have more resources than you know what to do with. For example, if you love Rick and Morty or Community, then the name Dan Harmon should mean something to you. No? Do you like Dungeons and Dragons? HarmonQuest? Either way, if you haven’t heard of this writer it may be enriching for you to get acquainted. He’s a prolific creator with two Emmys. Beyond that, he loves his fans and you can find hours of his interviews or lectures online. Free writing resources from someone who lives off his work. No Masterclass membership required!
With The Powers Combined…
So, you understand that role models can be helpful. You have looked through your favorite media and picked three that you love. Furthermore, you have found the writers behind your favorite works. Now that you have names, nothing can stop you from combing through hours of their free online resources.
Now what? How is this going to help you write better?!
Well, now comes the hard part. What are your weaknesses?
I know, no one likes that question, but there it is. Use the role models you have chosen to help you conquer your weaknesses! Do your second acts always drag? Look for a writer who is master of second/ middle acts. Look through their work/available online resources to see what each of them masters. Your endings fall flat? Can’t manage a twist? Dialogue sucks? Go through every issue with the same methodology.
I have A I cannot do well. For this example A will be dialogue.
There is B author who does A exceptionally. Let’s name Quentin Tarantino for our author.
And the rest is practice. One word at a time. Day by day. I think we can forget that writing is an odd art form. It demands of its practitioners’ multiple skills. To write gorgeous lines is a prerequisite, but then it demands the presence of mind to know what the audience wants to read. In traditional art forms, skill can get you work. But writing is more akin to producing. It requires a writer to wear many hats. To be an artist and a businessman. It can be demanding, and therefore most authors get better with age. Life experience making every writer better with time like a well-aged wine.
Good luck and write your best.