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Don asks: "I'm lost. I just completed college about a year ago and I don't know what to do with myself. I love creative writing, but am unsure how to go about finding a job in this field. I have a bachelors in communications and have written hundreds of poems. I would love to get them published, but am utterly frustrated. Can you offer me any advice?"


Hi Don,

So much depends on what you view as "creative writing." If you are asking, "can I make a living writing poems?" The answer is problematical. If you ask, "can I make a living writing novels?" The answer is a bit more hopeful. If you ask, "can I make a living where creative writing is the featured product?" The answer is more positive.

You need to do two things. Get a plan of action and start publishing whatever writing you have. The best plan of action is to try and get as close to the area of your true interest as you can. If you can't make a living writing poetry, perhaps you can make a living editing a poetry magazine at a university or teach it. Think in terms of getting very close to the core of what you want to do where you can still make money to pay the bills. While you do that, constantly publish. Get your poems in a publishable format and gather as many resource books around you as you can. There are a lot of writing books that will show you how to format the poems and how to select magazines to submit them to. Give it your best shot. Don't put any pressure on the poems to make you a living but push them out more and more to find markets for them.

Creative writing exists in newspapers, magazines, and books primarily. So, any connection you get with one of those publishing forms would be a good start.

Since you are young you have a lot of advantage to try out all those things that you want to do. Don't be afraid of failure or rejection. If things don't work out by the time you are in your late 20's start to shift gears.

There are two primary ways to get inside a newspaper or magazine. One is to become a general assignment reporter and the other is to become an assistant editor. These are testing sort of positions but pay the bills. Again, the best policy is to get as close to the core of what you actually want to do as you can. If you like to be around books, consider working in a library. Many writers work in libraries or they teach.

The important thing is not to panic, surround yourself with resources, and have a plan that will take you through the rough waters. Go to the library or bookstore and research all the writing resource books that are available. There are market books for poetry and fiction, along with magazines that give you all kinds of ideas of what to do.

If you send poems out and they get rejected, don't get discouraged. Read as much poetry as you can and give yourself as much room as you can to try and do what you want to do.

Good luck in your pursuits!


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