30 Pieces of Advice for Poets


1) If you write one poem a year, you will never be good. If you write one poem a week, you will get better.

2) Aim for quality, but know you will never write quality poems without a good quantity of work behind you.

3) Be prepared for the long haul, and the slow burn.

4) Become friends with ambiguity. Write poems that challenge you. Write poems which don’t make sense. If you can justify every line and every word, that is the work, rather than the inspiration.

5) Join a writer’s group. Make friends with other poets, see that they struggle with it as much as you do.

6) The rewards for writing poetry aren’t just monetary. It is about communication, about sharing, and about friendship rather than money and having your name in magazines.

7) Do not send work to magazines until you are happy with it, and have been happy with it for a while.

8) There is no time limit for poetry being published, but sometimes it can be published too soon.

9) Accept that in six months you may not be as pleased with a piece as you are now. This is a good sign and shows that you are developing.

10) Strike up a good relationship with magazines. Subscribe to them if you afford to. Sign up for updates on Poetry Web-sites.

11) Know what is happening in your local area.

12) Go to Poetry performances. Learn how to do it, and learn what not to do at these events.

13) Perform when you feel you are ready.

14) Do not be put of by other writers who are better than you. Often they have been doing it for longer.

15) Not every good performance poet is a good poet.

16) If you can, collaborate with other people across other art forms. Offer to write poetry about a picture for an artist you know, or offer to write lyrics for a band. It is a challenge that will make you a better writer.

17) Say yes to as many opportunities as you can.

18) If you know big words, use them sparingly.

19) Learn about a subject, or experience an emotion before you write about it. Knowledge adds to the authenticity for the reader or listener.

20) Let other people read your poems at performances, if they have a voice that suits what you write.

21) Rejection letters are not to be feared. They are the badge of honour we wear to show that we are writers.

22) Look for alternative markets for your work. If you are being rejected by magazines, try submitting to web-sites.

23) Do not sign away poems. Do not give up the copyright to your work.

24) Go through your back-pages, and if you find any good lines that stand out, use them as prompts and inspiration for new work.

25) Read as much poetry as you can, from as many genres and times as you can. As well as libraries, second hand book shops and charity book shops often contain a good selection of poetry books, magazines, collections and anthologies.

26) If you find a poem you like, or a poet that strikes a chord with you, tell people about it. Other poets you know are a good source of information for work that they like.

27) The media may talk about a resurgence in the interest in poetry. Poetry is like Jazz, it will always be there, but it will be more conspicuous at times when the Media takes an interest.

28) Write, Write, Write, and then write some more.

29) Do not fear the blank page. You are better than it is.

30) Always leave room for the reader in your work.

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