So You Want To Be a Poet?: Helpful Tips for Writing & Getting Your Work Published | The Blissful Poet

So You Want to Be a Poet

So You Want To Be a Poet?: Helpful Tips for Writing & Getting Your Work Published | The Blissful Poet


You’ve scratched, scribbled, and sculpted your greatest hopes and fears into artfully-crafted verses on a page — or perhaps your computer screen. Maybe you’ve cried about it, laughed at it, and crumpled it into the trash a few times before retreating to the kitchen for a well-deserved snack. Brain fuel, right? (Writing is exhausting sometimes, the jerk.)

I give up! you thought when the words just didn’t build the right way.

I’m a genius! you later thought (admit it) when last summer’s heartbreak became the written work of art you hoped to create.

Sometimes your obsessions tumble out just elegantly enough to form a decent poem, story, or essay. And sometimes they don’t. So what’s a logophile to do?

Here are some helpful tips for beginning poets:

  • Look for contests and publications. The Poet’s Market. Poets & Writers magazine. Do your research, especially regarding publications in which you’d cut your left thumb off to be included. (Keep your left thumb, though. It’ll make typing easier.) Start with those, then work your way down to the more accepting publications who cater to beginners. Because you never know, you may land a spot in the literary journal of your dreams sooner than you think. I learned that from one of my greatest mentors in grad school.
  • Persistence pays off, I promise. For every acceptance, expect fifty rejections. I’m not kidding. The NOs have to come rolling in before the YESses become valuable to you. If you’re a writer, expect to pay your dues in chunks of silver and gold. (What, you think we want to eat Ramen noodles every night and drive anemic beige ’94 Camrys til the wheels fall off?)
  • Read, read, READ. This is so important. You can write all you want, but if you never read the work of other well-established poets, you’ll never know what’s most valued in poetry. But my poems contain so much emotion! They’re so me! Look, my anger is just like a stormy day! See? Okay, so your emotion is well-earned. But it isn’t enough to say, “I’m sad.” You’ve got to show your patient, intelligent, oh-so-beloved reader you’re sad. And without getting too English teacher-y on you, I’ll leave you with one word: metaphor.
  • School helps, but *gasp* you don’t need a degree to write. I know, I know. This is coming from the girl who spent the last six years of her life honing her craft in college and then graduate school. Truth is, going to school helps. It puts you in a community of writers and provides a sense of accountability — after all, who wants to be the one student in a class of six who didn’t complete the assignment? In addition to accountability and a solid creative community, school also provides connections you might not have made otherwise. To be honest, I value the friendships and connections I made in grad school more than the degree.

When it comes down to it, you can be the most successful of writers whether you have a degree or not. It’s all about your own belief in your skill — and, of course, persistence. School not for you? Then do your own research and write every day. Throw yourself into it wholeheartedly and eventually, it will be worth it.

(Although yes, you’re right. It’s already worth it for the creative release and mental stability it provides.)


  1. mbgarris

    I’m not going to lie, seeing you tackle your writing with this blog, grad school and your drive has definitely encouraged me to keep at my own. I can’t do poetry (it’s not pretty…at all), but I can do stories! And I’ve been trying to write a little everyday to get to my goal of publication. 🙂

  2. Meghan B.

    Ah, thanks so much, Maryanne! I love feedback like this — it makes me feel like I’m not wasting my time. You should definitely keep at it, and if you ever need an accountability partner, let me know. I get lazy about my own sometimes and it helps to have someone nudge me once in a while. 🙂

  3. Meghan B.

    Reblogged this on The Practical Poet.

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