Writer’s Life: The Pitch

I am not creative. Period. Full stop. Whatever. And the worse part is: I love creativity. I love creative work. I love creative people; I want to be around them. I want to be them. Creativity paired with skill and discipline and passion — that’s the goal. The ideal.

Why am I talking about this? I recently quit my job in order to pursue writing full-time (although it’s really only part-time now that I’m helping out with the family business). And (I’ve known this for the last three years, but was too intimidated) the pitch is the place to start. Short, succinct, carefully crafted story ideas designed for specific magazines — specific editors even.

I don’t mind putting in the hard work it takes to write these pitches. I don’t mind sitting long hours in front of the computer or getting paper cuts from magazines to do research. I don’t mind editing them over and over until I’m satisfied (though I think the mark of a writer is that you’re never really satisfied with your work). I don’t even really mind getting rejected; it’s part of the job, right?

What I do mind is that I have the worst time thinking of ideas. I read pieces in magazines, in “best writing” anthologies, on blogs, and I’m always amazed at how these writers come up with such brilliant, unique story angles. Is it because they are just interesting people? Because they’ve lived interesting lives? Because they see things differently from the average person?

More importantly, am I boring? Am I too much of an “in-the-box” thinker? Am I just not creative enough? My professors in college encouraged me to write. They told me that I had something special, a gift. But nobody warned me that it would be so difficult to write a single, simple pitch.

I’ve been hoard–, err, collecting as many articles and quotes with advice on how to write a solid pitch. The main thing I hear over and over is:

  • “Write what you want to read.”
  • “Be original.”
  • “Be clear.”
  • “Be concise.”
  • “Be polite.”
  • “Be persistent.”
Which leads me to the next problem, figuring out what I would want to read. I have a hard time figuring out what I like in general. If you’re a writer, how do you begin thinking about story pitches?
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