Guide To Google Drive

Why You Need a Spreadsheet Of Your Failures

How tracking all my professional setbacks made me less afraid of them

Julia Pugachevsky
Published in
4 min readOct 7, 2020
Photo illustration; Image source: Guido Mieth/Getty Images

This piece is part of How Google Drive Can Make Every Corner of Your Life Easier

When things are tough, it’s tempting to look back on earlier parts of our lives through a nostalgia-tinted lens, forgetting that we’ve ever experienced any previous setbacks. Luckily for me, though, I’ve made it impossible to forget just how many times I’ve failed.

When I first left my full-time media job and went freelance, I started a Google Sheet of all my story pitches for articles that never landed anywhere. Next to each rejected pitch I note the outlet I pitched it to, plus a few others to try next. When I formally receive a “no” from an editor, I highlight that cell so I know to move on to the next outlet on my list.

The list of rejected pitches has grown to be pretty long by now, some with three or four outlets who all either flat-out said no or never responded. Over the years, I’ve stuck to one important rule: I never take an idea off the spreadsheet. Some of these pitches were conceived pre-pandemic and are no longer relevant; others are just ideas I’m not as jazzed about writing anymore, so I don’t bother sharing them with anyone. Yet I still keep them on the list.

For me, keeping a record of my unsuccessful pitches is just as important as celebrating the stories I do land. In a profession defined by a lack of structure, understanding where my energy goes (and when it pays off) is invaluable knowledge.

Failure is an event, not an identity

No matter how personally attached I feel to my idea, the Sheet neutralizes each article pitch into a data point. I approach every email to an editor with an understanding that you have to wade through a lot of “nos” before you get to a “yes.”



Julia Pugachevsky
Writer for

freelance writer with work in VICE, BuzzFeed News, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Insider, and more.