Writing Lessons

In the “Writing Lessons” feature, writing students and instructors discuss lessons learned, epiphanies about craft, and the challenges of studying writing.


Entrants must currently be enrolled in or teaching in an MFA or MA program, undergraduate writing program, summer conference, residency, or any other writing-focused program, or have been enrolled in or teaching in one of these programs in the past 6 months. Please submit up to 500 words about something you have recently learned about writing or being a writer.

Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis, and will be considered for publication in the month after they are received (so if you submit June 1-30, you will be considered for publication in July). In some cases, if we receive a great submission that we want to publish, but can’t find room for it, we may publish it in the following month.

Similar to “Letters to the Editor,” we want “Writing Lessons” essays to be fresh and timely, so we ask that you not resubmit the same essay more than once. However, you are welcome to submit different essays in subsequent months.


The authors of published entries will receive a one-year subscription to Ploughshares literary journal and a surprise in the mail. The perks of being a subscriber include free online submissions.

Entry Info

Please email your previously unpublished essay of no more than 500 words to blog@pshares.org with the subject line: “Writing Lessons.” Include in the email your name, your mailing address, a professional-looking color headshot, at least 600×600 pixels, your Twitter handle (if you have one), the MFA program/summer conference/residency where you were most recently enrolled or teaching, and (if applicable) the year you attended or are projected to complete this program.

Essays selected for publication will be published on Wednesdays. Submitters will not be notified if their essay is published, so check back every week to see if yours is next! By submitting your piece to the series you are giving Ploughshares permission to post it on the Ploughshares blog indefinitely, and to edit it for length or content. Copyright remains the property of the author. We ask that you not re-publish the piece within 6 months of publication on our blog.

20 Responses to Writing Lessons

  1. Emily M. says:

    So if my essay doesn’t get chosen the month I submitted, can I/should I resubmit the next month?

  2. Andrew Ladd says:

    Hi Emily,

    We ask that you don’t submit the same essay more than once, but you’re welcome to submit a different essay in as many months as you like!

  3. Jenna says:

    If I am enrolled in a UCLA summer writer’s workshop, can I submit to this new feature?

  4. Katie says:

    Might you ever do this for writers seeking to do an MFA in creative writing? Perhaps what convinced them to pursue it.

  5. Judith says:

    Can I submit if I posted it on my blog?

    • Andrea Martucci says:

      Hi Judith – We are looking for previously unpublished essays, and any publicly viewable website counts as published. Thanks for asking!

  6. Pingback: Get Published by Ploughshares! | The Frost Place

  7. A question: Should profs submitting essays also confine themselves to 500 words?
    Thank you!


  8. Oh, I hope you do this again! As a Written Communication MA student and freshman composition instructor, I am loving this series so much and plan to share many of these pieces with my class over the next 15 weeks! Please consider inviting MA students and composition instructors to submit as well.

  9. Yardenne says:

    What about someone teaching writing as part of a PhD in psychology, if the writing taught is not psychologically related?

    • Amanda Diehl says:

      Hi Yardenne,

      We’ve changed the Writing Lessons rules to incorporate “other writing-focused” programs. So please feel free to submit!


  10. Brianna says:

    This is a wonderful idea. I am a professor who currently teaches several creative writing courses at a community college. Would I be eligible to submit for this project?

    • Amanda Diehl says:

      Hi Brianna,

      As long as you’ve been teaching in those particular programs for at least six months, you’re eligible!

      Best regards,

  11. Rose says:

    Are we allowed to submit to Writing Lessons any month? Also why were there no February writing lessons? Thanks for answering.

    • Andrew Ladd says:

      Hi Rose,

      You can submit to Writing Lessons at any time.

      There are no Writing Lessons this month because the feature is now sharing its Wednesday slot with our other in-house posts and series, including Writers Do It Best and Writers’ Pets. That means we publish according to what we receive, so the schedule changes every month; sometimes we’ll have all Writing Lessons, and sometimes we’ll have none, though more often it will be something in between. Keep checking back!


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