Publication in journals etc
I agree that a writer shouldn't just use publication credits as a yardstick, there's got to be personal conviction too no matter what. There's always that battle between belief in your work's worth -- a poem, say, or a story -- and your fear that the editor was right to reject it. It's like a tightrope walk between self-delusion and self-belief. Sometimes editors are right, sometimes they're wrong. And sometimes work is rejected because the editor has run out of room, so good work is returned. But even though publication isn't everything, I think it's a good idea to try out poems / stories / etc in journals from time to time. Get some publication credits and then pull out of that rat race, work on the writing, decide then what you want to do. Lot more options these days too, like self-publication for instance. This is where publication credits in journals can help, just to shut up those naysayers who think you're deluding yourself with self-publication, you can point to your journal credits which is probably the only currency those folk understand. But it also gives a boost to your confidence that you can mix it in the mainstream marketplace, then go back to your own personal highways and byways. William Blake self-published. Enough said.