Note: this piece originally appeared on nicoledieker.com on May 12,2021
I began this year with a resolution to prioritize my writing, despite having a plate so overloaded it was bending at the edges. I needed to find a way to fit it in — and also to get it out, which meant, in part, that I would have to ramp up my pitching productivity.
I’d already made solid progress on conquering my fear of rejection (or worse, ghosting) by editors, but I was struggling to come up with ideas for essays and service pieces. How many angles could there possibly be on my two preferred subjects, relationships and mental health?
To be honest, I’ve always had a hard time coming up with ideas. While so many of my writer friends complain about having too many ideas and too little time to write them all, I silently hate myself for the crickets in my brain.
Until I wrote my first memoir, I never thought I’d have a book in me at all; until I started my second book, I was sure I’d tap out at one. I’m always surprised when I have an idea for a story or an essay that actually feels like it can be fleshed out beyond a paragraph. But I was determined to try.
At the end of January, when a writer in one of my Facebook groups announced she was going to send a pitch a day in February and asked if anyone else wanted to join, I signed on. Not necessarily to send a pitch every day — that was a little too ambitious for me — but to at least try to write one.
As a recovering teacher’s pet and a forever student, I love any challenge with an external structure. Show me an outline and I’ll write you a blog post about tech marketing; give me some plans and a mitre saw and I’ll build us a garden box; tell me I need to write 1667 words every day in November and I’ll draft 75 percent of a fairly terrible novel. As an established writer but a relatively recent student of the art of freelance pitching, I figured this practice could only do me good.
I quickly realized that this was much harder than those other structured challenges. I went into week one with a few ideas up my sleeve, a couple of notes-to-self with topics that had been rolling around in my head for the past few months, but by February 8 I was tapped out and panicking. I was sure I’d…