When I started this project, I thought I’d have all this time to keep notes of my progress. I was going to create this testament to freelance struggles I could offer up as a reference to those who came after me. What I forgot is how time consuming it can be. Fortunately, I’m at a place where most of my work comes from editors I already know, or from networking with clients who need a writer for their website or annual report. I don’t do a lot of blind pitches. Obviously.
A big part is the editing. Editing your own writing is hard work. It seems like it shouldn’t take that long…just read through what you wrote, clean up the typos, make sure what you are saying is clear and precise. Sounds easy. That took me an entire afternoon. Next comes writing the pitch letters, getting the formula right, obsessing over every word. That’s an entire evening of work. Then there’s trying to find the right editor to send the pitch. It’s a fruitless Google search at every turn.
Last week’s March Pitch-a-Thon goal was to edit one previously written piece I had yet to publish and write a pitch letter for said piece. This week’s goal: to send it out and start researching my next project. I did want to note that I found two resources especially helpful last week: This piece on the Billfold, especially in regards to pitch length and whether to include the essay.
If personal essays are your thing, I would also recommend Jessica Olien’s Personal Essay Writing Workshop, an online course offered by media website Mediabistro. There are writing tips and exercises, which I found to be some of the best I’ve ever received, but she also has a wealth of information about pitching to publications that will save you lots of time learning the hard way.