Someone recently said this to me: “Gee Christine. You always pick the hardest magazines to break into.”
It’s true. When I made the decision to turn my career towards freelance writing, I immediately set my sights on the big name magazines. You know, those pretty glossy ones that you see on the newsstand? That’s where I wanted to see my words.
And why not start big because you never know. While there may be a one in a million chance that my pitch will be selected from the bajillion that any editor receives, I could be that one, right? Start big and then work my way down the ladder. Because if you don’t pitch your dream publications, you’ll never see your words in those pages.
While it might appear that I’m employing a highly ambitious tactic (Dream Big) and stepping into the path of opportunity, I realized that deep down, what I really was doing was stalling.
Wait, what? How could pitching the actual publications that I hoped to be published in a stalling tactic? Isn’t that one of the required steps to move closer to your goals?
Yes, when done with the right intention and purpose.
What I realized was that by pitching the big glossies, which are extremely difficult to break into as a new-to-them freelancer, I was getting in the way of success.
There was a very slim chance that I’d actually get the assignment. I was doing a half ass job with my pitches because I was (am?) scared of getting the assignment. Would I be able to do it? Would they figure out that I haven’t been trained in journalism? Will they like my words? Would my research be up to snuff?
By pitching these magazines, there was less risk of being accepted and less risk of facing these fears. Less risk I’d actually have to show up and prove myself.
But, even though I wasn’t doing a great job with my pitches, by pitching high, I could still say that I was moving forward with my career of choice. I could say that I was trying and doing the work, that I was trying to win assignments.
I realized that I habitually do several small things that weren’t helpful if I wanted to be successful. What are some signs that you’re getting in the way of your own success?
1. Not doing the work
I wasn’t heeding the urge to write when it strikes. I assumed that I’d find a better time later. I was also not putting the necessary work into my pitches, assuming that I’d “save time and energy” and do the work once I get the assignment when really, you need to do the leg work in order to get the assignment.
2. Letting the work slip through my fingers
The biggest obstacle I face with writing is coming up with good story ideas. But when I actually do come up with a potential idea or even sentences or turns of phrases, I don’t write it down. I assume that I’ll remember it later. And that’s like throwing away work.
3. Not putting myself in the path of opportunity
I wasn’t pitching and marketing myself enough. I assumed that sending out one or two pitches is enough to win work but really, with freelance writing, it’s all a numbers game.
4. Not prioritizing my work
If I look at how I utilize my time during any one day, it’s pretty pathetic. I wasn’t being very productive because I wasn’t creating the space and time to write. I assumed that I’d miraculously find time later. Instead, I would find myself falling down the social media rabbit hole or doing the dishes or doing something else to waste my time.
5. Not believing in myself
I didn’t (still don’t sometimes) believe in myself and that someone out there would want to buy my words. I felt like I’m just someone who’s playing the role of writer. This is a hard one for me and something that I struggle with.
Little things — yes, but those little things add up. And when they add up, they create a big barrier on the wide open path leading towards your goals. Instead of fully putting myself in the path of opportunity, I was tentatively dipping one toe into the water while cowering near the curb.
I’m starting to get out of my own way, or at least recognize when I’m trying to stall. It’s very much a work in progress but even in the past two months, I’ve met some longtime goals.
I have some projects I’m working on that I’m excited about and I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable in my writer’s skin. It’s still a little baggy but with a little more tailoring, I’m sure it will fit like a glove.
Do you get in our own way?
More Ways to Follow Love, Life, Surf