I’ve had a lot of requests for this, so here goes.
This is my 26-step process for pitching publications with articles I want to write for them. If you’re a budding writer, I hope you find this inspirational and useful!
My Daily Process:
- Come up with an idea for a pitch.
- Go to the kitchen sink and fill it with hot (but never scalding) water, adding a squirt (1-2 ml) of washing up liquid to create a lather as the sink fills.
- Wash any dishes that need washing, rinsing off any lingering foam and suds because I’m not an animal.
- Dry the dishes carefully and put them away.
- Open all the cupboards and pull out all the crockery and cutlery in the kitchen.
- Wash and dry all the crockery and cutlery in the kitchen, refilling the sink if the water gets cold, before stowing everything neatly away according either to size or alphabetical order, whichever it wasn’t previously arranged in.
- Stand for a few seconds, collecting my thoughts until I remember my pitch idea again.
- Walk outside, grab a watering can, and water every plant in the garden (yes, even if it’s raining – you don’t question creative rituals, you just do them).
- Refill the watering can a number of times and spend the next 3 hours watering everyone’s garden in the street. (Optional: have animated discussion with neighbours.)
- Lunch and nap.
- Lay on the bed, allowing my thoughts to gently drift in the direction of my pitch idea with no sense of urgency, until…
- Stand up and violently change the bed linen.
- Go down to the shops and, without exactly knowing why I’m doing it, buy a bottle of wine. Return and place it on a shelf in the bathroom.
- Open my laptop and install the latest Windows 10 update, while going on my phone and tweeting at Microsoft about how annoying it is that I can’t get work done until it has finished. (If no update is available, I reinstall the factory version of Windows.)
- Stare out of the window, filled with a strange, nagging sense of loss that I can’t pin down.
- Make a list of really big things I want to get done over the next 5 years.
- Write “My Pitch Idea” at the top of the first page in an A4 jotter I have on my desk, if necessary scribbling out the previous day’s headline (“My Pitch Idea”) because you should only ever work on your freshest ideas.
- Have a long bath.
- Dinner and Netlix.
- Go through my laptop browser, and visit the “How To Write For Us” pages of the three hundred or so online and offline publications I’ve bookmarked, deleting all the ones that have ceased trading that day.
- Around 1am, grab a sheet of paper and make a detailed plan for getting up at 6am the next day and working on my pitch until the normal time I’d get up, before the day begins, which would mean I haven’t totally wasted today and allowing me a good night’s sleep – which I guarantee by turning my phone alarm off and ripping up my plan because it’s ingrained into my subconscious now and I prefer to trust my instincts.
- Read a chapter of something intellectual. To come up with good ideas, you need to feed your brain the right stuff. Every day.
- Browse Facebook for an hour or so.
- Get ready for bed. While brushing my teeth, have A Moment. (These can happen at any time of day, but they usually occur now, and in the bathroom, as I stare at myself in the mirror.) Moments are always the same: for a second, I see what I’m doing to myself, see how easy all this would be if I stopped putting things off, just wrote it and sent it and then it’s done, and I can just move on. Moments are ugly and upsetting, which is why I keep the bottle of wine in the bathroom these days.
- Drink wine, while holding onto bathroom door frame. Wait until it passes. Wait. Just wait. It’ll pass. It will pass. And – and – it does.
- Go to bed and sleep really, really well. Sleep is really important for successful writers. Don’t kid yourself otherwise.