Five Steps to Mindfully Craft Your Writing Pitch

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Writing is a sacred practice.

Which makes talking about our writing just as sacred. 

Especially when we’re starting out, answering an innocent question like, “what do you write?” can require just as much or more energy as the process of actually writing it!

Sometimes we know our work so intimately that when we’re asked about it, we either don’t know where to begin and freeze up, or we go into a long-winded explanation that causes the listener’s eyes to glaze over.

So just as you have to develop your craft in writing, you also have to practice talking about what you write. 

Many people call this the “elevator pitch.” 

The idea of an elevator pitch is to have at the ready a concise and enticing summary of your project so that if you happen to take an elevator ride with an agent or publisher, you could sell them on your book (or screenplay or short story…) in that brief thirty-second period.  

But in reality, most people who ask about your writing project in conversation are not professionals waiting to give you a book deal, but family, friends, and even store clerks. 

It can feel strange to recite a polished pitch about your project, even if it sells your idea.

What’s more, one conversation—one question, even, that you weren’t prepared to answer—can shatter the confidence built over several months of writing.

So before you begin talking about your writing, find out what you’re comfortable revealing using the following five steps:

1.    Answer the Five W’s

It may seem like the five w’s are best suited for a detective solving a crime, but answering them can help you clarify the broadest and most important aspects of your work. 

Who is your story about?

What happens?

When does it take place?

Where does it take place?

Why does it occur? (And as an added bonus: why does it matter?)

2.    Explore Your Comfort Zone

While answering the five w’s can help you clarify the most important elements of what you write, you do not have to reveal all of it in your pitch.

Go back through your answers and remove any information that you aren’t comfortable revealing.

3.    Construct Your Pitch

Now take the remaining information and reorder the answers into a one to three sentence pitch. 

4.    Read It Aloud and Simplify

This is the most important step!

If you stumble over any words or they feel unnatural when spoken, try to simplify the language.

Make it as true to how you speak as possible while still getting the point across.

5.    Set Clear Boundaries

Once you have a concise pitch, think about any follow-up questions or comments it may lead to.

Someone may request to read your work, elaborate on a certain idea, or even tell you they’ve already read something similar!  

Rather than feeling the need to defend yourself, devise a plan so you don’t accidentally commit to sending someone your manuscript or feel an impulse to trash your entire project.

Preparing for these hypotheticals will ensure you aren’t caught off guard.

Remember, you always have the option of going very simple: stating the genre or style you write and that it’s in the early stages, but you’d be happy to continue the conversation when you’re further along in the writing process.

Whatever you choose to reveal, know that there are no wrong answers! 

Just as you curate the words on the page, you also get to curate what people know about them. 

Approaching the process with mindfulness by thinking ahead to what others might ask and being prepared with answers will ensure you maintain confidence in your writing and yourself. 

Are you comfortable talking about your writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!