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“No” Is A Complete Sentence For Freelance Writers, Part 2

"no" is a complete sentenceOver in one of LinkedIN Ghostwriting Groups there was a lengthy and convoluted discussion as a result of someone asking if they should accept a questionable offer to write about something – I’ve forgotten the details.

I did, however, comment, “No is a complete sentence.” Maggie Payment Kirkbride, a ghostwriter also in San Diego although I don’t think we’ve met, replied “I love that. Great title for a post. Do it! There are so many “audiences” for that little sentence”

Of course, I have written about it before. When I read that older article I realized I have more to say. Oh, the original article stands up to the (internet) test of time. But it’s mostly about saying ‘no’ to low priced offers and how not to make yourself look, well, weak.

There’s more to saying ‘no’ than a fear of looking weak I think.

Why do we hesitate to say “No”?

I used to be scared to death to say ‘no’ to a client. I guess I was afraid I’d never have another chance.

For the most part we human beings are pretty nice folks. Liking to please people is not all codependency or poor self-worth. Wanting to make others happy is, not only a pretty sane survival skill when you think about it, it’s also feels good. Small wonder most of us prefer to say that other complete sentence, “Yes!”

There are a couple of issues I think.

One might be called a boundary issue. When we say “no” we’re setting a boundary. We’re standing up for ourselves, and making sure we’re not being exploited.

It helps me to remember that most of the people who contact me about doing some writing for them have absolutely no idea what it takes to get a blog post or an article or a book written. They literally don’t know what they’re asking of us.

In the beginning of my writing career I didn’t know what they were asking of me either, not the way I do with real experience behind me. In other words, I wasn’t always clear what I might be saying ‘no’ to. Maybe the client was right in his estimation of my value as a writer. These days I am, and it’s much easier for me to say ‘no.’

The other issue is we really don’t like making people unhappy. It turns out, of course, that saying “no” doesn’t mean the person will be unhappy. Maybe they’ll be relived. Or recognize they’re being unreasonable. Who knows – my wild imaginative side suggests maybe they’ll win a $1,000 bet with someone if you say ‘no.’

The point is we don’t know what the response will be – there isn’t as much risk as we might have thought.

Even if we lose a client

The big fear, or more accurately the most obvious fear is that we’ll lose a client or a potential client. And that does happen when we say ‘no.’ I’ve refused certain projects because the potential clients purpose in the writing didn’t align well with mine. I suspect I saved us both some real grief. I’ve said “no” to impossible deadlines and had the client find someone else. I was relived. I consistently turn down projects that don’t pay enough.

One of the things I’ve noticed about saying “no” in instances like these is it always frees me up for something else. I usually have a sense of relief, even lightness.

“No’ is not only a complete sentence, it’s a powerful one.

What’s your experience with saying ‘no’?

Write well and often,



{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Sue Chehrenegar

    This past year I said no to someone that wanted me to make video clips that I could submit along with my blog posts. I asked repeatedly for an indication of what he was willing to pay me. He never reponded; I am unable to make videos, and, therefore I said no.

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