Tips for Author Masterminds

Masterminds are not writing groups

Writing groups develop your craft, masterminds develop your business. A working author needs both, as even James Joyce’s gift for language won’t get you published, nor sell you books. Especially as authors, we need help staying accountable to our writing goals and our business goals. In just an hour per week, a mastermind can do exactly that.

Begin with a check-in, and end with a check-out

Begin each session by asking each author what they accomplished in the last seven days, and end each session by asking what they’ll accomplish in the next seven. Check-in and check-out should take no more than ten minutes each, and ideally, each author accomplishes what they intend week after week. And it’s always worth exploring when they fail to do so.

Listen, clarify, suggest—in that order

When an author brings an issue to the group, first listen deeply as the author describes the problem. Next, ask clarifying questions. Your goal at this point is to get into their headspace. To understand the full context of the problem. Only when everyone’s asked their questions should the suggestions begin.

Focus feedback on one large issue or many small issues

Prioritize offering the forty minutes between check-in and check-out to any author with a big problem. Give them a few minutes to explain before the group brainstorms ways forward. Only if no one has a big problem, open the floor to smaller questions that have cropped up throughout the week.

Nudge how they like to be nudged

A functioning mastermind nudges members toward smart action, especially when their default strategies prevents them from reaching their goals. This takes some finesse, as not everyone responds equally to every feedback style. Some like it blunt. Or sandwiched between complements. Or in metaphor. Be a good ally by experimenting, rather than assuming what works for you works for others.

Know when to start fresh

Every mastermind group has an expiration date. Eventually, the dynamic becomes stale. Inviting a new member can sometimes spice things up. But eventually, it’s right to say goodbye. Not to the friends you’ve made, but merely to your weekly meeting. Celebrate these moments as milestones in your career, and don’t delude yourself into thinking there’s nothing left to learn. Instead, take a week off, then start building your next group.