I've been freelancing for regional publications (mostly business journals and the local paper) since 2003. I learned a lot from those early assignments, but the whole time, I was itching to break into magazines. Like most newbie freelancers, I didn't know the first thing about how to pitch, who to pitch, how to come up with ideas...you know, the sort of things that quickly become second nature!
Once I met my friend Jodi, a full-time freelancer, at one of our first writer's group meetings, things gradually started to fall into place. She helped me navigate the murky waters of pitching editors and writing a query. I remember one of my first emails--"I really want to break into magazines but I don't have any ideas". Her response back to me? "You must be joking". Turns out, she was right. I started having some luck with the queries, which naturally kept me motivated enough to keep sending them out.
My first big (unpaid) assignment was a first-person essay for Today's Caregiver , a niche publication, back in 2007. My first paid assignment was for History magazine, a pub I've written for several times since.
I think I'm still new enough in the freelancing biz to still have every pitch acceptance be a total thrill. I hope I always have the same enthusiasm for it.
What about you? What was your first big assignment? Are you still excited by editors' acceptances, or have you been there, done that?