When I was still working at my day job, but desperate to become a full-time writer, I used to say yes to absolutely everything that came my way… I wrote free articles for the local newspaper; I went on every radio show that wanted me – even if it meant travelling for hours at my own expense; I contributed freely to documentaries (and often didn’t even get a thank you); I booked last-minute afternoons off work so that I could head to London to be interviewed on the news; and Richard and I even travelled to Wales with my entire Marilyn collection in the car, just to take part in a television show! The latter actually turned out to be quite fun, but it’s not something I’d ever do again!
I was so desperate to get my name out there that it never occurred to me to say no – to anything! This attitude went on for years, but now I’ve learned to turn down things that aren’t worth my time; feel a bit ‘iffy’; or I simply don’t want to do…
Over the past few years, I’ve said no to many things I would have previously said yes to. For instance, an international, billion-dollar company wanted me to be a ‘talking head’ on what sounded like a feature-length show. I said yes at first, but ultimately I decided against appearing because it just didn’t feel right for me. First of all the date of the shoot was sketchy, the location was unclear, and ultimately I had work deadlines of my own that were more worthy of my time.
Strangely, while it seemed apparent that every other person involved in the show would be paid, as an interviewee I was expected to give my time and expertise for free. Now don’t get me wrong, I will always do free work for good causes and friends if I’m able, but when a huge, mega rich corporation wants me to work on a substantial TV programme for no money (especially when they’re apparently fine with paying everyone else), I have to draw a line. At first I said I was okay with their policy, but as time went on I began to feel uncomfortable. When I eventually questioned why I’d be the only one not being paid, I was told that it would be unethical to pay me! Needless to say, it was very easy to walk away from that project.
Several years ago, I’d have likely given up a day of my time in order to do the interview, purely because I would have been embarrassed to say no. But I think as you get older (and maybe a wee bit wiser), embarrassment gets lower on your list of worries. Instead, you become more concerned with being respected and doing projects you feel are worthy of your time and are preferably fun!
So my creative friends, don’t be scared to turn down projects that you feel are more bother than they’re worth. If something doesn’t feel right then simply walk away and have faith that a perfect, joyful project may just be around the corner. Try it! I’ve been practicing the art of saying no for the past few years now, and you know what? It actually feels pretty good!
Until next time,