Yes, it’s true. What an inspired title. But I am indeed working on stuff.
Granted, the stuff doesn’t feel like work because there is no guarantee of money from the effort I am putting into it. Today, I pitched to seven different publications on two different articles. We shall see if any of them like what I’m writing.
Maybe that’s the hard part. Most of the time they don’t, or they don’t even give you the common courtesy of saying “No thanks, not for us.” No answer becomes your answer.
It’s a hard choice, because on one hand, I could be spending time writing content that is going to pay the bare minimum, which I need to do anyway, but most of my usual clients are either full-up with submissions from myself and everyone else, or they just aren’t requesting content. So, I look at it this way: I could be wasting my time writing content that someone might buy for topics I really don’t care about, or I could be wasting my time pitching a story to someone that might get me a byline and paid.
It sure was nice to send out pitches though. I am a little bit rusty, but there is something satifying about feeling like you are at that level of writing where you can pitch an idea to an editor and they might consider it. Rather than someone who doesn’t know the difference between your, you’re, and yore telling you to write everything in the active voice to improve their SEO score.
The nice thing about writing pitches too is it helps you organize your thoughts. You might have a lot of stuff you can pull from your experience or research and your pitch will help you put a finer point on it. Combine that with a word limit and you’ve extracted a story from a lot of source material, which leaves other stories that are ready to be extracted as well. In a weird way, the more you mine from your source material, the more you will have.
For example, I wanted to write about different kinds of food to eat on a road trip, and I wound up finding potentially three articles in all of that. I couldn’t have gotten that kind of inspiration writing about Camp Lejeune or TBIs. Pay…might be something entirely different. But one thing I do know is I will NEVER be paid for a travel article if I don’t pitch the ideas to an editor.
Hell, I even bought stamps today because one of the magazines still only accepts mailed in pitches.
The joy I got from sending out those pitches were better than invoicing articles I didn’t want to write in the first place. Plus, I can sell my photographs to a magazine. I’m getting better at photography. Hopefully one day I can afford a better lens to take even more saleable photographs.
A lot of this game is about balance. That balance between sitting with your thoughts and sitting down in front of the computer, the balance between what reminds you what you love about writing and making a potentially fatter paycheck, and the balance between what is necessary for right now and what is going to give you opportunities later. Much of it is the long game. Something you pitch today might sell in three months, or never at all. But you won’t ever find out unless you try.
The other thing about writing professionally is it is all a slow buildup.
You have to start small, do consistent work, keep at it, and challenge yourself for the next steps when the opportunity arrises. One of the problems I’ve had with writers’ groups is 90% of them are still fiddling around with things like “How do I write a story?” and others are at the level of “How do you submit a story?” I’m over here with questions like “How do I make more sales?” or “How do I get actual assignments?” The next levels are yet to come. Things I know nothing about right now.
But I’m in it to win it. Right now I’m just at the outskirts of Imposter Syndrome.