When I first started submitting my poetry online almost two years ago, I was daunted by the submission guidelines and terrified my writing would not be good enough to be accepted at the beautiful magazines and journals I was interested in submitting to. One rejection used to be enough to send me running from submitting again for at least a month. Now my attitude toward rejections and my confidence in my writing is slowly growing.
I have submitted to places I would never have dreamed of submitting to when I started writing. Upon reflection, I do not believe places like Mookychick or Black Flowers would have accepted my writing in the past. As a writer, a constant learning process is what has allowed me to grow.
I deeply enjoy sharing my poetry at online journals and magazines. I am able to share my work with new eyes and expand the circles of my community. Connecting with writers and forging new relationships is a refreshing way to look at my writing in a new way and learn from the techniques, voices, and styles of other poets.
For the purposes of this writing, I have used poetry as an example but I hope this advice applies equally well to bloggers looking to guest post or writers reaching out to magazines with their creative work.
For the beginning poet or the experienced writer looking to be re-motivated, here I share with you what I have learned after a year of actively sharing my writing at online literary outlets.
- Do your best to send in writing you can visualize being shared on the site or in the anthology you are submitting to. Be honest, not wishful, with yourself when asking “if I were the editor of this place, would I publish the writing I am submitting?” If the answer is a nagging no, find the right place for your writing and do not waste time and words on a sure rejection. You and your writing deserve better. Naturally, you cannot make this call correctly every time but you can learn from your rejections.
- Do not submit to every place you come across. Certainly, doing this you are more likely to be able to share your work on multiple sites, but do you even want your writing on said site? It is a place that honors words and shares those words with the right eyes? I have regrets; early on I took to submitting to journals simply because poets I knew had submitted to those places or I had stumbled across them and thought them fitting. Now I look to do better and submit to journals and magazines I will submit to again because the journal or magazine is a beautiful place that calls me and its readers back.
- Push yourself. Leave your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to overcome a previous rejection by writing something that will be accepted. Try writing prose or fiction. Enter for a prize. Try doing a recording for a poetry podcast (I will be doing something quite like this in the near future and am nervous yet excited about it).
- Upcycle. Take your rejected poetry and use the knowledge that something about it might be off to make it better. Change a line, a comma, a period, or the whole piece. Fuse two pieces together. Think of rejection not as a sign your poem was not good enough, but more as a sign you have not searched hard enough for the right home.
- Organize. Keep a list of the places you have submitted to. On this list, include the names of the poems that have been accepted along with their place of publication and also a list of the poems that have been rejected along with the name of the place that rejected them. I do this in a Word document. Also keep a list of the places you want to submit to along with notes on any deadlines for themed submissions. At a glance you will know what you might write something new for and what you can resubmit.
- Be willing to Learn. Discover what you enjoy writing about most. Reflect on what you write well. Expand on your strengths, but do not forget to exercise the places you do not feel comfortable in yet. Express yourself unforgettably.
With these six suggestions, I am hopeful you are encouraged to write more, to write less, to focus and push yourself, to love writing, and let words carry your essence to new eyes, ears, and hearts.
May the words flow!
What obstacles do you face in submitting or guest posting your writing? Tell me below!
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