Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Power of No

I did something a little bit unusual for me recently. I turned down work, or more accurately turned down the possibility of work. It's not something a freelance ever does lightly, but I'm really glad I did.

It was for a job I'd had some ideas for, one of which got fairly fully developed and which I was very enthused by, but they weren't really gelling with the commissioner and it was suggested I come back with a different proposal. I had a bit of a think and realised that actually the problem here was me, and the most sensible way to tackle that was remove myself.

Basically, I'm not the kind of writer the commissioner really needed for that project because the idea I'd felt a strong sense was the right one for me didn't match their vision.
I felt the best that could happen next would be that I'd come up with an idea I liked less that I'd work up feeling it was inferior. Something decent might emerge but it would be a difficult creative process trying to fit in where I naturally didn't.
More realistically, with my instincts clearly being at odds with the desired direction for the project, I suspected any new idea I came up with would be rejected too. With deadlines looming it struck me the wisest thing to do was withdraw and let someone else have a crack, rather than mess around people I've a lot of respect for.

I've said yes to things when my instincts told me to say no in the past and ended up doing work I'm not proud of. I don't want to do that again if I can because I invariably get deeply involved in my work and while I can accept other people not rating it the bottom line is I have to.

So now I'm writing something else, in an entirely different genre and entirely on spec after a very gratifying run of commissions, but the important thing is it's to please me first and hopefully others later.

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