Sometimes You Have to Say “No”

“Creative people say ‘yes’ until they have enough work that they can say ‘no.’”

Austin Kleon (Austin has several wonderful/amusing form letters about saying ‘no’ on his tumblr.)

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, you have to say no to something. That might be not watching TV with the family after dinner. It might be bowing out of a night of drinking and debauchery. (Why not try a write in, instead? A lot more coffee, but random conversations that will make you wonder what’s *in* that coffee. And you get some writing done.)

But even if you aren’t, the holiday seasons are upon us. They’ve pounced with the ferocity of a reporter on a Donald Trump quote. This season, more than any other, is when you need to think about your own sanity. You will have a lot of people who believe you have unlimited time to devote to them. This might be family. This might be friends. This might be a boss who has fourteen new projects that need to be pushed out by the beginning of January.

You need to take care of you. So, you need to be able to say “no” to things. “No, I’m sorry, I can’t make sixteen dozen cupcakes for tomorrow.” Or “Sorry, I won’t be able to make your party on the 16th! Have a wonderful time and eat a slice of pie for me.”

And here’s the nasty little secret people always forget: You are not required to explain why you are saying “no” to an event. “I’m sorry. I won’t be able to make it. Thank you for inviting me.” Feel free to copy and paste that sucker whenever you want.

When it comes to projects? Remember that quality trumps quantity. Can you take on 3 freelance projects and get them done on time and make enough to live on/pay the bill you need to pay? Take on 3 projects. But remember to start truly evaluating when the next possible project comes down the road. Will taking on a 4th project result in all 4 of them going off the rails? Say “I’m afraid I won’t be able to take this project on until [Date]. Will that work for you?”

And right here and now is when I point out that I am a total hypocrite about this. I almost always take on enough to push me to the edge.

But I have learned my lesson. 50 pies I’ve never made before? Sure, I can do them. Just not tomorrow. I’m going to need some notice for that sort of thing.