How To Pitch An Idea: Honest edition

Photo credit to Mary Katherine Morris Photography Creating article ideas is easy. Getting them to print is much more challenging. In my four years of freelancing, I've gotten better at framing ideas for specific publications and figuring out what would fit at what publication. What follows is my process for sharing my ideas with others.

1. Record a flash of brilliance. It doesn't have to be perfectly formed, but if it doesn't make it into one of my many notebooks, I'll start playing with Tessie and it'll be gone.

2. Google it. Before you even consider finding a market, search the topic. If my idea has been covered, I'll try to find a more creative angle to us as an approach. If my exact topic has been covered, that item stays in my notebook, but gets put on the back burner until I can figure out how to tackle it.

3. List publications. If this article could fit at one of my bucket list publications, I'll pitch it there first. If/when it gets rejected, I can restructure the idea and present it to one of my mainstays.

4. Draft the pitch e-mail. Obsess over every comma, word choice, and sentence structure. After the content is out of my brain, I reshape it (and reshape it and reshape it) until it blends the publication's voice and style with my own.

5. Hit send. My usual ritual is to close one eye, stare warily at the screen, pray for minor errors, and click. Then I jump back and watch it leave my computer and freak out.

6. Wait. Now that it's sent, what tiny and idiotic errors did I make in the e-mail? OH GOD, I MISPLACED A COMMA.

7. Keep waiting. Don't give in to self-doubt. Editors are busy people, and if I don't hear back within a week, I'll send a follow up message.

Lighting a fire

If I had my way, I'd tutor and freelance to make my living. Both are fulfilling and each is a type of non-traditional education. As of now, I usually pitch math and learning to my students during our first session. Usually, the response is silence and nodding, but the kids come back and work. Now, many of them only need support and encouragement to see how to work through problems. Yep, I'm proud.

Have I told you what I think of education? So many teachers present their material as being proprietary knowledge. As a student, that approach can make subject seem like it's completely out of reach. I'm here to tell you that this stuff isn't locked in a box. You can understand it. It is within your reach. I'm going to push you to learn. You can do it. You can. Shall we begin?

Title from a quote: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." It is often misattributed to William Butler Yeats.