Every writer and editor follows a different path to get
where they’re going. In 2009, before I started a Master’s of Fine Arts program
at the University of British Columbia, I worked in communications and made
zines on the side and had no idea about how the publishing and journalism
industries worked. I learned a lot at UBC, both about how to be a better
writer, and about how to pitch stories, get published, make connections—I
wouldn’t be writing this post if I hadn’t.
Not everyone wants or needs to do a BFA or MFA, though. School is expensive and maybe you, unlike me, are not looking to uproot yourself to move across the country. So: one alternative and helpful path is to seek out a mentorship program. Every program is different—some are free and some are not, some require applications and some do not—but maybe one’s a fit for you.
Many of the suggestions here came from other writers on Twitter (thank you!); this list is by no means exhaustive. If I’ve missed a program, please email me at [email protected] and I’ll add it (anyone familiar with programs in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, or Nunavut?).
Vivek Shraya is offering a mentorship through her new Arsenal Pulp imprint VS. Books, deadline September 15, 2017; this mentorship is open to unpublished writers who are Indigenous, Black and/or a person of colour, between the ages of 18 to 24, living in Canada, and looking for a home for their completed book manuscript.
The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP) connects beginning children’s authors with established children’s authors through their Blue Pencil Mentorship Program. Mentees must have current CANSCAIP memberships and the mentorship comes with a fee.
Many public libraries across Canada have writers in residence who offer weekly office hours to emerging writers. (It is 4:48pm on a Thursday afternoon as I write this and I am too lazy to Google every writer-in-residence program across the country, but here’s a 2016/2017 example from my hometown, Hamilton.)
Universities often also have writers in residence (e.g, the University of Calgary) who offer office hours and/or manuscript consultations. Rules vary (you may or may not need to be a student), but it’s worth checking to see if the university or college near you supports a writer-in-residence program.
The Surrey Southbank Writer’s Program is a part-time, three-month program is designed for new writers who would like to begin sharing their work with others. The program offers both classes and mentorship opportunities.
The Vancouver Manuscript Intensive pairs emerging writers who are looking for feedback and guidance on their manuscripts with professional, published writers. This one-on-one program is tailored to suit the needs of its mentees.
The Writer’s Guild of Canada matches three writers with three mentors for a four-month mentorship.
The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild matches writers one-on-one with mentors for a four-month mentorship.
The Manitoba Writer’s Guild matches writers one-on-one with mentors for a five-month mentorship.
Diaspora Dialogues matches Greater Toronto Area writers who have a finished manuscript they’d like feedback about one-on-one with mentors for a six-month mentorship.
The Quebec Writer’s Federation pairs emerging writers with mentors for a four-month mentorship.
The Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick matches writers one-on-one with mentors for a total of fifty hours of mentorship.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland & Labrador matches writers one-on-one with mentors for a five-month period.
The Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia matches writers one-on-one with mentors for a five-month period.
Every other year, the PEI Writer’s Guild matches writers one-on-one with mentors for a three-month period.