How long before you make it as a freelance writer?

womensmagsI love Mediabistro’s How to Pitch guides. It ‘s a great way to learn about what types of stories magazines are really looking for and which sections are pitch-able. Every so often, I like to re-read the guides to all my favorite national magazines, in hopes that one day an idea will strike and I’ll work up the courage to pitch them. But, I haven’t yet. I keep reading and hearing everywhere that the front-of-book is a great place for new writers to break into for most of the national glossies, but nowadays, most of the shorter pieces are being written by Editorial Assistants and Assistant Editors, so how is a new writer supposed to get an in?

I’ve done the research for a few really good ideas for a women’s national magazine but I’m scared to pitch them because I’m afraid that

(a) my e-mail won’t even get read.

(b) my really good idea will get trashed because of my limited portfolio.

(c) my idea will get stolen, reformatted and assigned to another writer. Although, I’ve read somewhere that sometimes you can get paid for your idea, but the magazine will assign the story to someone else.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop pitching these publications, it just means I might have to hold out a little longer to get published in them. Ideally, my plan was to build up my portfolio with smaller magazines and then move on to front-of-book pieces for bigger publications and hopefully start doing some reported pieces after that. But, I’ve learned that when you’re a freelancer, there is no set game plan–you have to go with the flow.

My temp. job at the magazine website was supposed to end either this week or next week, but they’ve extended it another three-five weeks, which is great, even though the work is very tedious and quite boring. I assumed I would start freelancing full-time afterwards because the job market is just impossible, but I’m not going to be able to survive on these low-paying and limited assignments. Not to mention, since I just started, most of my payments won’t be coming in till after the summer. I plane to wade the summer out because I have travel plans that I wouldn’t want to give up and then probably look for administrative work in the fall to supplement my freelancing income. Although, finding those seems to be just as hard these days!

What do the rest of you do for money to keep your writing dreams alive?

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