Writing Mentor: Working One-to-One


“You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself” — Galileo Galilei

Being a writing mentor means guiding another person to support their personal and/or professional development. Through their experience and perspective, mentors pass wisdom onto their mentees to help them grow and to fulfil their potential. Exceptional mentors lead by example and lift their mentees by giving them the knowledge and tools they need to succeed. Having a writing mentor can be important for several reasons, as they play a crucial role in a writer’s development and success. Kathryn’s mentoring philosophy is based on cultivating artistic growth through guidance and empowerment.

Mentoring is a dynamic partnership built on trust, respect, and mutual learning. At its core, having a writing mentor is about fostering growth, both personally and professionally, by offering guidance, support, and encouragement.

From page to stage, Kathryn’s writing mentees benefit from her specialism in narrative nonfiction, narrative performance, and nature writing. She brings to her mentoring practice a wholly unique skillset as a bestselling writer, historian, designer, and public speaker. Mentees benefit from detailed feedback on writing and hour-long conversations about craft, mindset, goal setting, and much more.

Having a writing mentor combines teaching, coaching, and mentoring. Read this MasterClass article for more information on the value for aspiring writers to have mentors. The process should not be confused with psychological therapy, which requires specific training. That said, a cornerstone of her practice as a writing mentor is helping people to cultivate empowering mindsets to clarify and achieve their artistic goals, which can be diverse and wide-ranging:

  • writing one-page query letters
  • writing 35-40-page book proposals
  • private tutoring in narrative nonfiction
  • shifting into long-form journalism from essay-writing
  • completing particular projects including essays and essay collections
  • focusing on particular aspects of writing (voice, structure, narrative arc, character development)
  • developing the business side of the writing life (publicity, book tours, public speaking, and more)
How Does It Work?

Each mentoring session includes feedback on 8-20 pages of writing and a one-hour live discussion on Zoom for a total of 16 contact hours (8 hours of of conversations + 8 hours of detailed, handwritten feedback).

Results speak for themselves. Kathryn’s students and mentees get published, win literary awards, get short-listed for prizes, accomplish individualistic artistic goals, and develop their creative lives in ways that are unique and satisfying to them.

To learn more, write to Kathryn at kathryn@kathrynaalto.com.


Guidance. A writing mentor can provide valuable guidance in writing techniques, storytelling, and other aspects of the craft. Constructive feedback from a mentor can help writers identify areas for improvement and refine their skills.

Experience. A writing mentor often has years of experience in the writing industry. Learning from someone who has faced challenges, navigated the publishing world, and honed their craft can save aspiring writers time and help them avoid common pitfalls.

Motivation. Writing can be a solitary endeavour, and staying motivated can be challenging. A writing mentor can offer encouragement, motivation, and accountability, helping writers stay focused on their goals and maintain a consistent writing practice.

Networking. Writing mentors often have established networks within the writing community. Through a mentor, writers may gain access to valuable connections, writing groups, writing retreats, and potential opportunities for collaboration or publication.

Career. A writing mentor can provide insights into the business side of writing, helping writers understand the industry, market trends, and how to navigate the publishing process. This guidance is particularly valuable for writers looking to establish a long-term career in writing.

Support. Every writer is unique, with individual strengths and challenges. A mentor can offer personalized support tailored to the specific needs and goals of the writer, addressing areas that require improvement and helping them leverage their strengths.

Emotional Support. Rejections, self-doubt, and creative blocks are common challenges for writers. A mentor can offer emotional support, helping writers navigate the emotional highs and lows of the creative process and offering encouragement during difficult times.

Skills. A mentor can help writers identify areas where they can develop and enhance their skills. This may include guidance on scene creation, character development, essay or book structure, dialogue, or other technical aspects of narrative nonfiction.

Inspiration. Mentors can inspire creativity by sharing their own experiences, providing insights into the writing process, and offering new perspectives. This can help writers overcome creative blocks and generate fresh ideas.

Continuous Learning. Writing is an evolving craft, and a writing mentor can introduce writers to new trends, tools, and techniques. Through ongoing mentorship, writers can engage in continuous learning and stay updated on the changing landscape of the writing industry.


“You know the saying. ‘When the student is ready, the teacher appears…’ After a 20 year creative hiatus to raise my daughter, I was ready to get back to writing but floundering. A Google search for a writing retreat brought me to Kathryn’s site and I had found my teacher. A year later, I have published my first essay and written the draft of a novel. In class and one-to-one mentoring, Kathryn taught me the elements of effective writing, introduced me to a treasure trove of writers who use those elements so beautifully, and helped me find and develop my unique writing voice. She also connected me to a community of writers where I have made lifetime friends. The rest of the saying goes: ‘When the student is truly ready, the teacher disappears.’ I have a feeling I will be studying with Katy for a while yet as she has so much to give.” — Francesca, New Hampshire

“Kathryn has an uncanny ability to understand who you are and where you want to go as a writer and unlock your potential step-by-step with patience, respect, and eloquence. She is a creative, fun, and resourceful teacher and artist who won’t hold back from you her insights into the inner workings of the publishing world. She’s a gem of a mentor.” — Onur, Washington, D. C.“Kathryn is an exceptional teacher. As a best-selling author, she knows the publishing industry first-hand. And she is highly adept at refining one’s technical skills without stifling a writer’s voice. Without her mentoring, I would be stumbling along in the dark along my path to publication. Her guidance, support, and knowledge are game changers.” — Lise, Los Angeles, California

“Kathryn was a fabulous mentor at a time when I needed it the most. I was working on the manuscript of my first nonfiction book, and Kathryn had recently finished Writing Wild, which has a similar structure to mine. She provided wonderful advice about how to balance different chapters, how to better tell a story, and always reminded me to be specific rather than vague. Kathryn gave me courage to pursue interviews with higher profile people than I would have otherwise approached, and boosted my confidence as a writer. Our weekly call gave me goals, a schedule, and kept me accountable in my writing process. Because of Kathryn, I had a clearer sense of what makes a full-length nonfiction book work and how to get there. Working with her while I was in the final stages of my manuscript dramatically improved my final product and gave me skills that I will carry with me for my writing career.” — McKenzie Long, California, author of This Contested Land (University of Minnesota Press)

“Through both classes and one-on-one coaching, Kathryn has helped me make my writing come alive. After many years in academia, it was a little dry, to say the least!  Now my writing flows and is full of vivid details and imagery. It’s fun to read, unlike my previous style which was more akin to a peer-reviewed journal article. I was also struggling with imposter syndrome. I had almost put a book project that’s close to my heart on indefinite hold, feeling that I was not truly qualified to write it. She helped me work through those feelings and develop language for my introduction that puts my (actually extensive) expertise into context. After just one session with Kathryn, I was unstuck and moving forward. The project is back on track!” — Rachel S., Tulsa, Oklahoma


  • £1500 rates rise to £1750 September 1, 2024.
  • Each of the eight mentoring session includes feedback on up to 20 pages of writing and a one-hour live discussion on Zoom for a total of 16 contact hours (8 hours of of conversations + 8 hours of detailed, handwritten feedback).
  • Flexible dates but space is limited.