I have a tendency to be a people pleaser. I like to help others, and I especially enjoy doing things for writers: to encourage them, support them, provide feedback, buy their book, and read their writing.
Helping other writers is why I have my blog and a newsletter about writing and publishing. Both my blog and newsletter are ways of helping writers and doing so on a bigger scale. Helping people in these ways, that is one-to-many, may not be as personal as one-on-one, but it’s certainly more effective and multiplies my reach.
But aside from blogging and my newsletter, I don’t have much extra time to help people. This season has been especially busy, jam-packed with writing. It seems I write, work, eat, and sleep. I often lose track of what day it is.
I’m certainly not complaining about having too many writing assignments and projects. It’s just that I’ve found myself saying “no” a lot more often. Even though this is necessary, I still feel a small pang of guilt each time I do.
When an email showed up a few days ago from an author asking if I would review her book, I wanted to say “yes.” Her request was respectful and not demanding as some are. She was humble, yet hopeful. But I knew I had to decline. I barely even had time to read her email, let alone her book.
I paused, took a deep breath, and said “no” as nicely as I could. It went something like this: “Your book sounds interesting, and I’d really like to review it, but I just don’t have the time. Sorry.”
[bctt tweet=” Saying “no” now provides the space to say “yes” to something even better later on.” username=”Peter_DeHaan”]
A smidgen of guilt poked me in my gut. I paused and reread my words. I was nice but firm. My words were not evasive or imply I might do so later. I had closed the door without slamming it shut. Then I hit send.
I felt good about my decision. There’s power in saying “no.” Declining secondary things allows me to better meet my current commitments; it also provides the space to say “yes” to something even better later on.