Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing is to Pitching as Diving is to... Dancing?

Writing is like scuba diving. The writer floats, cocooned and alone, exploring a foreign world. Danger lurks if one doesn't plan well, but myriad treasures await discovery. It's quiet. Peaceful. An intensely personal experience.

Sometimes the writing experience is a virtual treasure trove of brilliance:
Picture perfect photo by Clarita from
Sometimes more craft than creativity is required for survival:

Thanks to heirbornstud for this photo from
It's true, that not all underwater environments are equally interesting. If, for instance, I were to stay close to home, my options are limited to the frigid, murky waters of Lake Michigan, where I might expect to see:
By Ladyheart from

In order to have a more satisfying diving experience, with pristine water and exotic experiences, funding must come from somewhere in order for me to see this:

Sadly, no sea turtles swim in Michigan lakes. Photo by Bandini from  
In order to get funding for one's grand adventures, one must pitch the publisher / producer / studio. And while writing may be like diving, pitching is more akin to exotic dancing.

A different skill set. Pic from Dave at
The problem is immediately obvious: diving is insular and self-exploratory. Exotic dancing: not so much. Furthermore, excelling at one involves a completely different skill set than excelling at the other.

I'm sure there are many accomplished divers who are equally fantastic at shaking their groove thang on stage. But in my mind, the two professions are at opposite, er, poles.

"I'd rather be diving." photo courtesy of Mary B. Thorman from
For me, the toughest part of being a writer isn't the writing. It's the pitching. I love talking with people, schmoozing, and diving into new stories, characters, and plots. But I hate the thought of doing it for money.

My established writer friends have repeatedly told me it's not my writing that holds me back; it's that I'm not "putting myself out there." And I am not alone. I know many talented writers who can knock your socks off with their written words, but who equate "pitching for a sale" with "taking your clothes off for money."

Well, no more. It's time, dear writerly friends, to stop paddling around in our own little puddles. Time to get out of the water and cast aside our prudish notions of pitching. We need to learn to dance as well as to dive.

To all aspiring and not-yet-where-I-want-to-be-in-my-career writers out there, I propose this: go dancing! Spend at least half as much time learning how to pitch as you do working on your writing.

Get out there. Go to at least one conference, pitch session, or networking event this summer. Take notes. Practice your dance moves in a mirror and in front of friends before you take the stage. But take the stage!

No one is born knowing how to write. Or dance. Both are learned skills. We owe it to ourselves, our characters, our worlds, our supportive friends & families, and our careers to study both. Because no one believes in our writing as much as we do.

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