Putting Away Your Writing Worries
This article belongs to The Writing LifeóThe Good, the Bad, and the Ugly column.
It seems that the list of concerns when writing articles keeps growing. First, you attempt to think of a creative topic to pitch. Then, you wonder about how to construct the pitch. Once the pitch is picked up, you worry about interviewing subjects. When interviews are figured out, you mull over constructing the article so it fits with the magazine's format. There are, however, four things you don't ever have to fret about.
The Perfect Title
Just give up on this idea right now. I've seen many writers, myself included, rack their brains for the title that will wow editors or give their piece that extra umph. Well, guess what? Nine out of 10 times, the title will be changed by the magazine. They often have an idea of how to showcase the piece, and your title - no matter how cute and ingenious - is not what they had in mind. You may be bummed a bit by the decision, but it could be worse. They could change your whole piece.
And speaking of changing a whole article you slaved over Ö Don't worry about when the editor will get back to you for changes. Depending on the type of article, there can be very little, no revisions, or many. However, that's not for you to worry about. Sure, get it into the best shape you can and send it over. After that, move on to the next pitch or assignment. Editorial calendars change, and even though you handed in a piece in January, you may not hear from the magazine until May. Believe me, if they want you, they will find you. The one exception to this rule is an upcoming vacation. You do not want to get revision requests the night before you leave or while you are away, so if you have not heard from a publication and you are ready to jet, drop a quick note to say you will be away and when you will return. Then, spend your week relaxing.
Before pitching a piece, you probably have experts who you will interview in mind, but you may be concerned about how many to talk to and what to ask. As tempting as it may be to get a head start on your upcoming article and begin your interviews, do wait until the piece is definitely picked up. This will not only save you from premature carpel tunnel syndrome, but will prevent you from doing extra work as well. Often, editors have experts they like to use and specific questions they want you to ask. Don't be afraid to ask them how many experts they want interviewed. Usually, the answer is three, but sometimes they want more. So send in your pitch, wait for the green light, and then begin your assignment.
While there is nothing wrong with having an idea of how you want your article to play out, refrain from writing it until you get the thumbs-up to proceed. Magazines have monthly themes and may want your article to fit into an upcoming one. Or, they may love your idea and want to use it but not in the same way you pitched it. Keep your brain fresh for when the article is assigned, and you will have more energy to do a great job.
The Bottom Line
There is such a thing as working too hard. To increase your productivity, put those nerves to rest and don't rush. The end result and lower stress will be worth it.