The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #7 – Guy Saddy

In this regular feature, Story Board asks Canadian writers to share a few details about their work habits and their strategies for navigating the ups and downs of freelance life.



1. Where are you when most of your story ideas come to you?

I wanted it to be someplace exotic, or at least print-worthy, but most of the time I’m just sitting at my desk. Usually I’m perusing webpages and all of a sudden some sort of weird connection will strike me. And then I’ll just write down just a brief sketch of the idea and go back over and fine-tune it later on. I used to keep a pad of paper right by my bedside because I’d find that in that weird sort of twilight zone when you’re just about to fall asleep, all of a sudden a strange sort of set of connections would hit and I would write something down. But that wakes up my girlfriend, and that’s not good.


2. What’s your biggest distraction and how do you resist it? 

Oh man, it’s the internet by far. I’ve got to think that’s probably pretty much number one with most people right now. The kind of thing I like to do is just burrow deep down into something and go from one thing to another and one tangent to another. And I think that’s an admirable trait when you’re researching a long feature. I think it’s an enormous time waster if you allow yourself to do that just on a regular basis, which unfortunately sometimes I do. I just keep on going and keep on going and all of a sudden I’m in some crazy place which has no relation to what I should to be doing at this moment in time and I’ve lost half a day or something.

So what do you do to stop yourself?

Well sometimes I’ll look at my bank balance and freak out. But I do have some daytimer software that I’ve been trying to use and it has been making a bit of a difference. It’s nothing more than sort of an old-school organizer/daytimer, but it has been actually keeping me on track a bit more lately.


3. What non-writing activity do you do to recharge your batteries?

I play guitar. And I play it super, super loud to the point where the people downstairs probably despise me. And I know I can drive people from my entire house when I crank it up. It’s something I’ve done for years and years and years. And it just takes me to a different place. It’s an entirely different exercise than writing, even though both can be very creative. It completely takes me out of my comfort zone as a writer and recharges my batteries for sure.


4. What’s your best strategy for getting over rejected pitches?

It depends on who you’re pitching to, I’ve found. I think I’ve long lost that sort of anticipatory giddiness about throwing a pitch at a magazine. I think what’s disappointing is when you put a lot of time and effort into a pitch and to be frank I can’t do that as much these days. I’m fielding pitches from editors more than I’m actually creating pitches because they’re extremely time consuming to do. But if I have poured a lot of time and energy into it and I don’t get any response I’ll nudge the editor once politely and then maybe not quite as politely a second time. But to actually get over the rejection… I don’t think it’s that difficult anymore. There’s a disappointment if an idea that you believe it doesn’t get picked up, but there’s not the sort of ego-crushing humiliation and sadness and despondency that used to accompany me when I’d have my pitches regularly rejected at the beginning of my career. It could be debilitating, I would think, if you take it all so personally. And you know often it’s just simply that it’s just not a fit for the magazine. Or, especially if you’re pitching something that’s somewhat experimental, they don’t have room for it anymore.


• Guy Saddy is a Vancouver-based writer who has written everything from humourous articles dealing with pop culture and relationships to longer features intersecting science and urban anthropology. He has been published in a wide variety of magazines, including The Walrus, National Geographic Traveler, Elle (Canada) and enRoute. Some of his work includes “The First Little Mosque on the Prairie,” Don Alder, and Spirited Away in Mérida. You can follow him on Twitter at @GuySaddy.


Is the internet your biggest writing distraction? How do you force yourself to focus? Share your strategies with other freelancers in the comment section below


Posted on February 14, 2013 at 9:15 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Written by EL DUECK
    on September 24, 2013 at 10:40 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Dear Guy Saddy,
    If you are, indeed, the Guy Saddy who wrote ‘LULULAND’ for Elle Magazine… then, I would like to say… you were my biggest distraction today.
    Now, one would have to ask if being distracted is a bad thing… I was laughing too hard to care to write anything serious after reading your article.


  2. Written by Guy Saddy
    on September 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    What a lovely thing to say! Thanks, EL.

    Happy to be… of service.

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