As a solo writer, we don’t often pay it forward. We come up against obstacles, and sometimes we discover solutions, but we don’t always share those solutions with the rest of the world or the writing community.

Writing and teaching are not the same things. There are many writers who are superior at their craft and can write at the highest level, and yet, they are not the best teachers. We often see this in the world of sports, where a famous athlete will go into coaching and not have much success. Inversely, an athlete with a less-than-stellar career will go into coaching and become one of the best coaches of all time. Mastery of a skill set does not ensure the ability to pay it forward or teach it to other people.

The end result of writing for most of us is to publish something, whether that is a newspaper article, a blog post, a recipe book, or a novel. That publication will benefit the author and the people who read it, but it does not directly benefit other writers who will one day try to accomplish the same thing.

Years ago, and more so in the traditional publishing world, publishers would take chances on inexperienced or new authors, pairing them up with an experienced editor to help the author grow and learn. However, that is not so much the case any longer. A publisher who purchases a manuscript is taking a risk, and they want to minimize their risk by making sure the writer is the most qualified and competent they can be.

In the independent publishing world, by its very nature, you are completely alone—hence independent. There is no formal structure that allows a successful independent author to pass along a learned skill set to someone newer to the profession.

Some writers create courses or books to help teach other writers, and that is commendable. But it is usually a product or service for profit, which is in the best interest of the author and not necessarily the person who is reading the book or taking the class.

While masterminds, the good ones, are not free, there is a different energy that makes it easier for us to pay it forward. Mastermind groups are often comprised of people at varying levels of experience and success. There are some members of my mastermind group who have never published a single word and others who have published 15 or 20 novels. We all begin in the same place. We all start writing our first book before we can write the second, or the third, or the tenth. And because of that experience, we know what to expect, and we can share that with other authors in the mastermind group.

It is quite common for a less experienced writer to ask a question on the hot seat and have one of the more experienced writers answer it. In fact, it’s not unusual for multiple experienced writers to answer the question differently, hence giving the person on the hot seat several options for what they can do next.

Because friendships have developed, bonds were formed, and the structure of the mastermind was set up this way, it is easy for the more experienced authors to share not only their successes but their failures.

Over time, I have seen the less experienced authors grow and develop, and they, in turn, pay it forward to the new authors joining the mastermind group. There is an organic and warm evolution of learning that takes place when some members of the mastermind group have more experience than others and are willing to share it.

Not only does it make the tone and feel of the mastermind group positive, but it sets a precedent for how the group moves into the future, so even if someone leaves the mastermind group, the understanding is that the more experienced will always reach a hand back and help the less experienced.

I can remember being the new guy in many mastermind groups and asking what I thought were stupid questions. I was always met with a helpful response and treated like an equal. I have taken that experience, and now I try to make sure I can replicate it in the mastermind groups that I run.

There is no such thing as a stupid question, and I never censor the hot seat problems or questions brought by the members of the mastermind. Even though we all like to think we learn by hearing things or seeing things one time, this is simply not true. It takes multiple exposures to something for us to learn, for the information to sink in. Therefore, if the more experienced authors are paying it forward and sharing their advice multiple times, it will undoubtedly help the less experienced authors in the mastermind group.

Furthermore, someone like me began as a participant in a mastermind, and now, I host them. Another way of paying it forward is having a good experience as a participant in a mastermind and then, someday doing that for other writers. Not every participant of a mastermind will have the skill set or the desire to run their own, but if you’ve had a good experience where other authors shared their expertise with you, and you decide to run your own mastermind group, you will be much more likely to implement and import that culture into your own. Want to take your writing chops and business savvy to the next level? Check out The Author Success Mastermind group at