Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for NO!

     Though my kids wouldn't agree, I'm not very good at saying 'No'.
     If the concession stand at the track meet needs an extra hand, I volunteer.
     If the Music Boosters could use a couple pies for the spaghetti supper fundraiser, I volunteer.
     When I see open time slots for Dog Walkers at the Humane Society, I have to stop myself from writing my name down for too many days.
     Yes, I'll do it.
     Sure. 
     No problem.
     You bet. 
     It's no trouble at all. 
     And it's really not. I like to help. The only problem with being generous with my time is that my writing time suffers.
     In between the volunteering, daily household stuff, substitute teaching, going to track and wrestling meets, football and baseball games, and shuttling the boys to and from practices, guess what ends up on the bottom of my 'to-do' list? Yeah, writing.     And why is that? Because it's the least necessary activity needing to be completed that day? Because it's flexible time? I can borrow a half hour of writing time and make it up tomorrow, right? Sure, but it never happens.
     When I wrote my first novel-length manuscript, I managed to clear the calendar. I didn't volunteer for anything. I turned down sub jobs. I made a daily word goal, and wrote a 50,000 word first draft in 30 days. And I haven't been able to produce like that since. Why? Because I fell off the 'just-say-no' wagon.
     If you find your writing time being whittled away, take a look at how you spend your days. Are there activities you can cut from your schedule to make more time for writing? Could you share a volunteer commitment with someone else to cut the time in half? Saying 'no', at least temporarily, might help you reach your writing goals in no time.

19 comments:

  1. Nice post. 50,000 words in 30 days is awesome! Sometimes it's not easy to say "no" but remembering there are only so many hours in a day can help you be more firm in turning down a request.

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    1. That's right. I really hate saying it, but when there's no writing time left at the end of the day, something has to give.

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  2. Learning to say no is something I'm practising really hard :-)

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  3. This is so true, Dawn. I used to give my time away like crazy. Now I'm quite stingy with it because I have learned to give my writing priority.

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    1. Me too. At first, the guilt killed me, though.

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  4. No is one of the hardest words to say. It's true, though. If we constantly give away our time, we won't truly do what we love.

    Play off the Page

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  5. I love it that you have a hard time saying NO to dog walking. But I see you point. I can say NO, but I sometimes wonder if maybe I should have said YES instead. So a double-edged sword, maybe? Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. Inger, if dog-walking was a paying job, I could do it all day!
      The second-guessing gets me, too. I like to think I now have a good balance of time spent on writing vs. volunteering. Now I should focus on saying 'Yes' to a clean house more often!

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  6. I need to learn say that word...to myself and others.

    Hope you’re enjoying the challenge so far!
    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. I AM enjoying it! Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. NO is the hardest thing to learn! Because we all want to be liked, and not disappoint. My favorite book on learning that message is Boundaries by Henry Cloud. Ever read it? The best! I'm popping in from a-z. Visit me at the Ballpark - clicking my name will take you there.

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    1. I have not read it, but thanks for the heads up!
      So glad you stopped here, Mare! Nice to meet you.

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  8. Oh, my gosh. You could have written this post about me (except for the subbing part)! Thanks for inspiring me to get back on the NO wagon...or at least cling desperately to it as it drags me along :-)

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    1. Yep, sometimes that's only the best we can do, tighten the grip and hang on!

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  9. I'm so glad to have read this. It looks like you place your priorities in areas that you enjoy doing such as volunteering, so it all balances itself out because you also completed your novel while only sacrificing the extra volunteer activities only temporary. We tend to find the time to make room for the most important things that matter to us, no matter what they are...even if that means doing nothing at all but staring out the window and watching other people manage the hustle and bustle of everyday tasks :)

    Reading this post, however, reminded me that I have a problem saying NO....to the wrong things. You see, In January, I started working on the screenplay for a short movie I want to make and when February rolled around, I lost my steam and have been slowly neglecting that script for weeks on end. I still blog and do freelance writing, which means I can't say that I stopped writing altogether. So lately, I've said Yes to everything BUT the one thing that I should be doing. I'll get on top of that...one of these days, lol.

    Cheers!

    ~Nicole
    Blog: The Madlab Post
    *Rockin' the A to Z Challenge! My recent posts include M for Matrimony; N for Neighbors from Hell*
    @MadlabPost on Twitter

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    1. Sometimes we don't make time for the things that ARE important to us, too, because we can't deal with the thought of not being cut out for the job or not living up to our own high standards or the criticism of others. That has held me back before. So I volunteer my time away to get my mind off of writing, and then complain I don't have any writing time. It's a vicious circle...
      Time to finish that screenplay, Nicole! You can do it!

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  10. I can relate. I am not very good at saying "no." I have a habit of saying, "maybe later" and/or "I don't think so" as if to soften the blow. lol

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