Last week in Brooklyn, home to the hipster/indie/creative class, an event was held to help adult women better understand the most crucial element of their business.
Not their fancy MFA or Ivy degree(s). Not their raw talent or burning desire to Change The World.
How to pitch their ideas to those with the authority and budgets to hire them.
This is from the Poynter Institute website (which is a terrific resource for all journalists, if you don’t know of it):
Hundreds of women (and a few men) crammed into a standing-room only bar in Brooklyn to discuss ways to close the byline gap.
At “Throw Like A Girl: Pitching the Hell Out of Your Stories,” which was organized by women’s nonfiction storytelling organization Her Girl Friday, a panel of experienced journalists and editors rejected suggestions that sexism or gender bias is exclusively responsible for the gap. Instead, they emphasized the need for young female journalists to develop the confidence to let rejection roll off their backs.
“You can’t see rejection as a real reflection of your value,” said New York Times metro editor Carolyn Ryan. “Every day, seasoned reporters pitch and get told no. Practicing pitching makes you a better pitcher. Rejection is part of the process.”
New York Times reporter Amy O’Leary, who hosted the discussion, said that as a young reporter she was so afraid of rejection that she would often agonize over her pitches for weeks or even months at a time. Meanwhile, she said, her male counterparts would happily send off pitches they had written in a day.
I’m going to piss a few of you off here and I’m fine with that.
Grow a pair!
I grew up in a family of full-time freelancers. My father directed film and television documentaries and series. My step-mother wrote television drama. My mother wrote journalism. No one had a paycheck, pension, paid sick or vacation days or any form of back-up beyond our own gumption and savings.
We ate well, drank good wine, traveled widely and wore cashmere. We drove new-ish good cars.
And rejection — of our ideas and pitches and plans and goals, no matter how hard we’d worked on them — was as normal to all of us as breathing. Nor was it anything more noteworthy.
So I really don’t buy this notion of women being too afraid to pitch, pitch, pitch again.
I wrote an essay about how well and carefully my husband cared for me after my hip replacement this year. So far, it’s been rejected by The New York Times, More and O magazine. I’ll sell it, or some version of it, to someone. Just not yet.
What makes me so sure?
Well, the essay I wrote about my divorce and pitched to Woman’s Day, which soundly rejected it, was bought by another women’s magazine — and won me a Canadian National Magazine Award for humor. Sweet!
But what if I’d curled up in a little sad ball, held a pity party — and never pitched it again? Rejection to a writer (any artist likely) is like blood to a surgeon — a messy and inevitable part of every workday.
If you can’t handle rejection, you’re not ready to make a living as a creative/independent person. Even people with cube jobs — especially people with cube jobs — have to pich their ideas, (if not for their day-to-day living) for buy-in to get their projects approved, funded or green-lighted, to their colleagues and bosses.
Do you find it difficult or terrifying to sell your ideas?
What are you doing to get over it?