Keep Your Writing Goals Small

I’m going to write for the New York Times Chapter 5

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

This is an ongoing column about my quest to write for the New York Times. If you’d like to know the background behind why I’m doing this, check out the first installment of the series.

This week, I realized that my attention to the New York Times might be a bit myopic. It’s not great practice as a writer to just pitch one publication and only one publication over and over again. I need to broaden my horizons! Though I didn’t approach the Times this week, I stuck to my goal… barely.

One Pitch A Week

Right now, I’m working a full-time job, writing occasional freelance pieces, and starting a business. I know what you’re thinking “get off the couch already you lazy fool!” At the moment, I have the random motivation to do a lot of stuff. There were times earlier in the pandemic when my only motivation was “not freak out about impending doom” and I accomplished very little.

All of this to say, please don’t look at the weird list of things I’m doing and feel bad about yourself. I’m not a good person for having a bunch of crap happening at the same time and you’re not a bad person if you’ve worn a groove into your couch cushions. We’re all just humans trying to get through a terrible time in history.

Anyway, because my schedule is full, I’m keeping my pitching goals to a minimum. One a week. If I get inspired by the pitching fairy, I’ll do more. But for now, I only have to do one.

Easy Goals

Even though my pitching goal is pretty simple (one is the smallest number I could choose!), I almost didn’t make it this week! But, at 4:00pm on a Friday, I sent out a pitch.

Actually, I didn’t send it out. Though I don’t think the time you pitch matters much, 7:00pm Eastern on a Friday doesn’t seem like a banner time. It’ll be at the very bottom of their inbox on Monday. So, I wrote my pitch, found the email address, and scheduled it to automatically send at 11am Eastern on Monday.

Why 11am? Well, it gives the editor some time to get through the weekend’s backlog and maybe my pitch will be a pleasant pre-lunch surprise. Or it’ll be buried and forgotten. Who knows!

For all intents and purposes, my pitch of the week is done and sent on its way. And I’m so glad I gave myself an easy goal. When I give myself a huge to-do list of tasks, I often wind up overwhelmed and get less than half of what I wanted done. When I give myself easy, doable goals — they get done!

Even though this week was challenging and I could have easily let my pitch goal go, I couldn’t help but think “It’s one pitch. Just do it.”

Pitching to New York Magazine

Giving the Times a break this week, I pitched an idea to New York Magazine’s Vulture. I’d like to get into a variety of bigger name publications and since I read New York Magazine every day, it would be a delight to write for them. Plus, it can’t hurt to have another place with “New York” in the title.

How Can Any of This Help You?

A takeaway this week is to make your goals easy and they’re much more likely to get done. Nobody likes pitching (if you do, please leave a comment so I can steal your essence).

If you say you’ll pitch 10 times a week, then Friday rolls around and you’re at pitch 0, you’ll probably go “to hell with this” and bail on the whole thing. But if the number is small, you can bust through Friday doldrums and send something out.

And one completed pitch is amazing. It’s certainly better than the hundreds of never-pitched ideas that will certainly go nowhere.

If you want to find the masthead and pitching guidelines of the New York Times and over 240 other publications, get my free Big Guide To Paying Publications That Take Pitches. You’ll get the guide plus weekly emails about open writing jobs and freelance tips.

Writer for Thrillist, Bustle, Parade, Greatist, MTV, IFC, Snooki’s blog. Want to hear about open writing jobs? Sign up for my free newsletter at AmberPetty.com

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