How to Become a Young Writers Project Mentor

Some of you have asked for more information about how to be a mentor for kids and young adults involved with the Young Writers Project. Here’s a quick Q&A.

What does being a mentor involve?
All you have to do is sign up at youngwritersproject.org and wait for YWP staff to approve your account (see below for instructions). When that’s ready, start reading what kids have written and writing respectful, thoughtful responses in the section reserved for comments. That’s it. You can do this once a week, or once a month, or however many times you want to. I recommend once a week, but it’s really up to you.

Why do this?
These kids are smart. They need to be challenged by smart adults, including people who aren’t their parents or teachers. You’re a smart adult, so they need you. Like you, they want to improve their craft. They want to know what you think about what they’ve written. Nurture a kid’s talent now and you may enjoy her books someday.

What if I can’t find anything good to say about someone’s writing?
Then you aren’t looking closely enough. There’s always something good to be found. Start your comments the same way we start them in our BWW workshops: describe what works well and then, gently and respectfully, move onto what works less well.

How long should my response be?
A paragraph or two is sufficient. When I write these comments, I focus on one thing that works well and one thing that doesn’t. Too many comments can be overwhelming. One or two will really resonate.

I’m sold. How do I create an account?
Go to youngwritersproject.org and click on “LOGIN/REGISTER” (the green tab all the way to the right). Then you’ll see this screen. Click on “request invitation.”

ywp explainer 1

Once you’ve clicked on that, you’ll be taken to the screen pictured below. You’ve seen these before. Fill out the information. Where it says “school,” fill in “Burlington Writers Workshop.” We’re not a school, but this will indicate to the YWP staff that you came to YWP through the BWW.

ywp explainer 2

Once you’re done, click through the captcha and push the “Request Invitation” button. You’ll receive a confirmation email from Geoff Gevalt and they’ll review your information. When it’s confirmed, you’ll be ready to start mentoring some young writers.

ywp explainer 3
Vermont is consistently ranked among the best states in the country to raise kids. The Young Writers Project, in my opinion, is one of the reasons why. When you participate by becoming a mentor, you’re making our state an even better place to live, and the young writers will certainly be grateful.

Contact Geoff Gevalt (ggevalt [at] youngwritersproject [dot] org for more information.

About Peter Biello

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered on New Hampshire Public Radio and a writer of short stories, novels, book reviews, and essays. He's also the host of The Bookshelf, a series of interviews with authors from or writing about the Granite State.
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