NEW YORK – American Muslim author Umm Zakiyyah is currently selecting participants for her new UZ Mentorship mentoring program.
According to her website, Umm Zakiyyah’s mentoring program involves phone calls, video chats and emails with up to 10 mentees and includes:
- “Customized guidelines to meet your writing goal
- Feedback on excerpts of your writing
- Best practices for your genre
- Advice on getting published
- In-depth step-by-step consulting from draft to publication for month-to-month program clients
- A testimonial published by Umm Zakiyyah to help promote your work (for select clients)”
Why Mentoring for Writers?
Umm Zakiyyah told AboutIslam her motivations for launching a mentoring program. “I have served as a mentor for years, but I selected individuals on a case-by-case basis.” Umm Zakiyyah’s mentees comprised of people from diverse professions, including former NFL stars, professional athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs.
Unlike the author’s previous informal mentoring selection process, UZ Mentorship will concentrate on writers and include application reviews.
The author told AboutIslam that her new program allows her to integrate her mentoring and teaching experiences.
“I have a background in teaching and education, and I have done different workshops in the past. I have worked as a teacher, guidance counselor, and a personal tutor.”
Umm Zakiyyah’s experience as an educator also involved training teachers as well as instructing courses like an “Islamic Fiction” course for the Islamic Online University.
The selection process is complex because the author wants to make sure potential mentees, who may like the idea of being mentored, are prepared to complete the rigorous aspects of the program.
“It’s kind of like getting your master’s or Ph.D., it sounds nice, but there will be a lot of work.”
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Pros and Cons of Mentorship
Umm Zakiyyah elaborated on mentoring’s multiple layers. “One of the things that occur when you are working with people one-on-one is it becomes more than teaching. There are psychological and mental health aspects to mentoring.” Umm Zakiyyah explained that mentors ideally provide support and encouragement and can meet the mentee’s learning needs. Mentors also help mentees find solutions to challenges and avail themselves of opportunities. Mentoring affords the mentor chances to inspire self-reflection, which fosters the mentee’s personal/professional development and achievement.
There are benefits for writers who avail themselves of the experience and expertise of mentors to help motivate them, hone their skills, and receive important advice about publishing and promoting their work.
Sandra Barkevich, founder and CEO of WriteType Editorial Services explained to AboutIslam, “For the newbie writer, finding a good mentor can shave a lot of trial and error off of their learning journey, provided the mentee is open to learning from their mentor.”
Barkevich cautions that acquiring a positive mentor is challenging and it is preferable to have more than one.
“Finding a mentor who’s worth their salt is rare and not easily found,” said Barkevich.
“There are some writing groups that offer mentorship programs, but that doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to click with your mentor and create the kind of bond that is needed for a strong mentor/mentee relationship.
A writer needs to find someone who is like them…someone who has similar tastes in reading and writing but has lots more successful experience.”
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The Bigger Picture
Umm Zakiyyah told AboutIslam that the UZ Mentorship is a smaller part of a larger teaching initiative she has planned.
“I am going to start official online classes for aspiring writers. I will teach some of the courses, but I plan to also recruit people I am mentoring from my program and train them to become teachers.”
The author and educator mentioned that her planned courses will be open to everyone.
“It doesn’t have to be only Muslims, but I will have some aspects that cater to Muslims.”
Umm Zakiyyah explained her process for extending UZ Mentorship to AboutIslam.
“I plan in the subsequent 6 weeks after the launch of UZ Mentorship to release an actual course, inshaallah. The course will not be one-on-one; it will teach the basics of writing through videos and activities similar to the present program. This foundational course will be followed by subsequent courses focusing on topics like completing the first draft,” she said.
“The foundational writing course will be followed by subsequent courses focusing on topics like completing the first draft, publishing and marketing.”
The soon-to-be launched online courses will afford more people the opportunity to learn from Umm Zakiyyah.
“The benefit to the courses is that it grants more access,” Umm Zakiyyah told AboutIslam. UZ Mentorship will remain limited, but anyone can register for the online courses.”
Through both her mentoring program and online courses, Umm Zakiyyah’s goal is to get more people writing.