Why I Can’t Pitch an Idea to Magazines.
Being a successful writer these days is far more of a game than seven-year-old me imagined.
In fact, part of my dream to become one was merely for the simple life I envisioned it fostering.
When asked, I remember telling peers and teachers in elementary school that I wished to be an author. Strangely (bless you, young Paige), while others fantasized about their grandiose pursuits with NASA, engineering and science-focused careers, I believed being a writer meant living paycheck-to-paycheck and owning a shack, and I was okay with it.
Schools seriously need to implement the Law of Attraction into their science curriculums.
Let me re-emphasize the seriousness of that statement. I prepared myself to live in a shack if that meant doing what I loved. I was ready for the overworked-underpaid life merely because I wanted to write. I envisioned my collection of successful self-written books, a library that would fund my travels to speak on fancy panels about important things.
At the core of my yearning, all I wanted was to be influential and make a difference.
At age seven, I was already impacted by society’s distorted standard of success: a code-word for salary. Writers, like teachers (my second dream), don’t make money. You can’t live off of that career. How are you going to support yourself? At age seven, I integrated the notion that my dream — that dreams in general — are a long shot.
As a result, I dreamt small. I felt there were repercussions for my dreams and that I was wrong for dreaming them, that I was destined for struggle.
Today, that internal battle runs rampant in the constant search for the right literary journals and magazines to house my work. In the wake of such rapid online production, it feels more and more difficult to honor the young girl who simply wished to write and make an impact. So when a piece is finally written, finding its proper home feels like throwing a dart at a dartboard.
Good news! Today, many magazines seek freelance and contributing writers, presenting ample opportunities for diverse perspectives. In other words, I really do believe there is a creative home for everyone, somewhere out there. I must remember that includes me too.
Less than good news: most magazines require queries or pitching ideas to them before accepting full draft submissions. For methodical, intentional and energy-based writers like myself, this infinitely opportunistic game can become instantly limited for folks who wish to submit completed works.
As a body-based, energetically informed writer, I have a log of article titles in my phone from random downloads I receive throughout my days. That said, just because I have an idea doesn’t mean the story exists. Yet. Often, I must wait. As with any unfolding process, there is a gestation period. The work reveals itself to me once the energy has accumulated in proper time.
Everything is timing. The spiritual teachings of Abraham Hicks treat thoughts as “launching rockets of desire.” As such, when magazines ask for pitched ideas, a launched rocket is often met with prolonged silence, lasting anywhere from weeks to months. It stunts positive momentum and creates difficulty moving beyond the early stages of inspiration.
And sure, while there are multiple appropriate publications for any one piece, simultaneous pitches for the same idea still energetically complicate and interfere with the organic writing process. Pitching to numerous places can make it more difficult to focus the idea on its one, proper home.
Obviously, no writer should necessarily wait to have a pitch approved before writing an inspired piece. Inevitably, though, once a pitch is made — whether the work has been written, is in process, or not-yet started — there is an energetic misfire from one’s creative process to an emphasis on product.
Think about it this way: most people’s peak emotional states occur as a result of unreleased, uncommunicated experiences. Upon expressing them, the charge is diffused. This is the same cathartic impact found in talk therapy. In the same way, the more pitched ideas are presented without a prepared story to back them, the idea’s energy decreases every time.
Consider emails to be rockets. What are you shooting out every time you hit Send?
Certainly, the request for writers to pitch themselves for an esteemed publication is entirely valid, given that editors and staff do not have the time to read through full drafts for their platform. At the same time, if the work is truly a fit for the publication, would it not capture you within the first few moments of reading?
Isn’t it more promising to consider a finished piece over a fleeting idea sent in an email that will inevitably change upon submission? Shouldn’t we let our work speak for itself? Isn’t it terrible to have pitched an idea and then feel pigeonholed into it, even though we’re expansive human beings with ever-changing minds?
I know I may be in the minority here, but in an attempt to stay true to my writing process, here is my preferred pitch:
Dear Creative Online Magazine and Staff,
I do not know where my writing will lead, as I am a constant student of the craft. As such, I cannot properly or accurately pitch you an idea that will stay true beyond my expressing it in this moment. Additionally, once pitched, if the idea is not tended to immediately, the momentous energy leading up to my crafting this email will be dimmed and the desire to write it, squashed.
Therefore, I would like you to know that I must write my pieces entirely before I search for their proper home. That process in itself is exhausting, but at least I know the work is safe with me before I find it another eclectic household. More directly, I want you to know that when I choose to submit to you, I’m truly choosing you.
I love your mission, and when I say it would be an honor to contribute to it, I really mean it.
Instead of being a small fish in a big pond, I’d like you to know that you’re a big fish in my small one. So when I cast a line out to you, know that I’m patiently waiting, committed and ready for you when you tug.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful in sending you a full draft, but it’s only because it’s ready for you. I’ve worked hard to make it so, through an intuitively constructed process. I know this leaves me at a disadvantage sometimes, as I may only submit to one place instead of 20 whilst awaiting your reply. At the same time, if accepted by you, the wait is always worth it.
Know that in your acceptance of me, you are fulfilling the dreams of the kid who still longs to be heard through simple, impactful writing. No games, no chaotic chase, no strategizing or self-advertising, just writing. Remember?
I thank you kindly for your consideration and look very forward to hearing from you. Truly.
Paige Frisone is a body-based writing coach, writer and poet stationed in Boulder, Colorado. Originally from Chicago, her writing pursuits began at Butler University, finishing school at Naropa University with an integrated contemplative psychology focus. Her work has been featured in Elephant Journal, AboutBoulder, Rogue Agent and elsewhere. Learn more about her psychosomatic inquiries at her website.