This isn’t a real post, FYI. This is me coming up for air. Gulp.

I once saw the biggest opportunity…

When I first got laid off, my plan was to be open to possibilities. I am of a cautious nature, and don’t take a whole lot of risks. Burned before? Yes, many a time. I am an expert in the field of chances not paying off. It was sort of my major in college.

But when I got laid off and started freelancing, I began saying yes. Why not do everything I’ve always wanted to do? I had time. Perhaps it would bolster my resume. It sure couldn’t hurt it.

So I started doing All The Things.

At the beginning, a friend gave me gentle caution. “Don’t spend too much time on unpaid work,” she warned when she saw me overloading my plate like any self-respecting American at a buffet.

By the time she gave me that advice though, it was too late. I was committed up the wazoo. And I take my commitments seriously, yo.

So since then, I’ve been working. A lot. Like, sunup to bedtime. Plus weekends. Some of it’s paid writing; most of it’s unpaid. It’s fun, fulfilling work, which is great. Fantastic, even. The only thing is…

I need to earn more money. Bitchez gotta eat, you know? And there are pets depending on me to support their eating habits. Lazy animals, why don’t they get a job?

Plus I have that fourteen year old car burning oil in my driveway, which probably needs a new whatzijigget or engine; I’m not a mechanic. And you can’t live in L.A. without a car, they kick you out. I mean, public transportation is an urban fantasy here, more of a nice idea than a reality. “Oh, wouldn’t be nice if we had reliable public transit?” said no Southern California city planner ever.

Then there’s also the fact that I sat down to write a blog post and felt zero creativity. There just isn’t enough time to cultivate any.


Oh yeah, and that novel that’s so important to me? I haven’t touched it since mid-November. I want to be a novelist, and I’m not working on my novel? That makes zero sense. And I’m supposed to be spending a certain amount of time drumming up new freelance jobs, but that’s been moved to the back burner in view of all the deadline-oriented fires I’ve been putting out. This kind of stuff needs to take priority, Natalie.

I don’t know exactly what to do about this situation. I love everything I’m working on, and would be loathe to part with any of it. But now, I need to learn to say no to things I love.

Generally, “no” is not a problem for me. People ask me to do things I say no to all the time.

Do you want to go back to work in an office? No!

Would you be interested in balancing this checkbook for me? No!

Maybe you should become a dental hygienist! They make such good money. No!

Do you want to go to Disneyland with me? No!

(I’m not a sourpuss, I just don’t have the hundreds of dollars it now costs to visit the magic kingdom.)

See? “No” itself isn’t a problem for me.

Just the “nos” that I want to be “yeses.”

Finish the Sentence Friday

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Just Say No — 34 Comments

  1. Joi at RX Fitness lady had a great post last week where she reiterated something Tiffany said at Bloggy Boot Camp in Charlotte. “If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no.” I think No is OK if it keeps us on track with our goals. Wishing the best for you Natalie!
    Ilene recently posted…Saying Goodbye to the Skull CapMy Profile

  2. My mother is a freelance editor in her retirement. She started out saying yes to everything (although they all paid, some not nearly as much as the work involved was actually worth) because she was afraid if she said no, people wouldn’t ask her again. She finally managed to figure out how to estimate her time and fees so as to get the jobs that made it worth her time and still be able to do a fun or interesting project when it pops up. Of course jobs will run behind and overlap so there are those weeks when, despite careful planning, she has multiple jobs due at once. I hope you can find some balance soon.
    Ellen recently posted…Ex Lion TamerMy Profile

  3. I need to do the third thorough edit on my novel, and I have little motivation, as well. For what it’s worth, I enjoy all your free writing. If we had an option to pay for a feed, I’d pay a little to read each of your entries…and you know I will fork out real money when you do actually finish your dang novel. That’s the problem with talent, though. It’s hard to put it in the right direction, harder to get paid, and once you do, everyone wants a piece of your pie.
    Chris plumb recently posted…I’m Not Gay, I Just Like To Write (and Other Stuff): Redefining MasculinityMy Profile

  4. I can relate so much to this, Natalie. I look at all the time I spend on blogging and other writing related unpaid projects as an investment toward some sort of possible, maybe, undefined kind of um…no…I feel strange using the word “career”…but you know what I mean. And I’m a person who can’t say no. Unless it’s to some of the stuff you mentioned above. No! to the office for sure. And dental hygienist. I’m not a mouth person. Mouth-Y, yes. And then there’s the feeling that there’s nothing left creatively. I remember a blogger saying at Non Con that she wrote for other sites and felt she had no words left for her own. It’s a lot of balls to juggle in the air. And I know right now you’ve got a lot of balls. In the air. But I also know that whatever you decide to do, you’ll do it really well. Because, you’ve got so much talent. And…well…balls.

  5. I hear you! I love my unpaid work a lot, but this past year, I’ve had to learn to say no to new unpaid opportunities because I simply don’t have the time to dedicate to them.

    I’ve been there, where you have no energy left for the creative writing that you really want to do. Saying no is a big part of making time for that. But so is putting limits on how much time you dedicate to the unpaid work. Or even the paid work if you happen to have high maintenance clients (last summer, I spent two hours with an anxious client on Skype doing nothing but talking her down).
    Suzanne recently posted…PyrotechnicsMy Profile

  6. As you said, you have to eat. I hope you find a way to do everything you love, and earn enough money doing it to make ends meet (plus a little left over for fun!). And, it is okay to say no.
    Robin recently posted…ReflectionMy Profile

  7. I see you got tons-o-awesome advice in the comment section so I’ll not try to be redundant, especially since I’ve had to learn the hard way how to balance blogging and novelling just recently, so I have little advice to give! The blogosphere IS a tantalizing temptress. I can blow entire days just reading/commenting, and then, oh yeah, I’m supposed to be writing posts, too! (?)
    I recently cut my posting way back and make myself work on my novel (I’m in the editing/revisions stage) for several hours before I even let myself tip-toe into cyberspace. I had to tell myself NO in essence!

    You’re uber talented. You’ll get your balance mojo and it’ll all fall into place. Good Luck!
    Beth Teliho recently posted…That Time A Bear Ruined My HoneymoonMy Profile

    • That is such a good suggestion, Beth. I should start on the novel before venturing into the blogosphere for the day. You can get so sucked in!
      PS – I can’t wait to read what you’ve written!

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