Monday 22 February 2021

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Learning To Say No


One big thing I learned last year was about saying no to things even when I thought that they might be good for me as an indie author. I've been doing this for a good fifteen years now, and while I'm not a big fish in the indie world, I have learned a few things here and there. I haven't always felt like I could say no, not when it was a massive opportunity and it might end up helping me along the way. Yet, before last year, I would find myself saying yes to things I didn't want to do, and also knew wouldn't help me in any way.

So what changed? I could say it's the confidence in me, I'm going through therapy and maybe being able to talk things out in that setting helped. I could also say it was a general lack of energy during 2020, making it hard for me to do a whole lot of things. It was the same for a lot of people with the pandemic and other issues eating into leisure time and relaxation time. It was possible a mix of all of these, but I wanted to talk about how freeing it was.

Before I jumped into that, lemme just sat that I'm not really a confident person, I am very much a people pleaser, I'll do whatever I have to, to make sure that as many people as possible are happy with the outcome. I've not always been like this, but things in life have shaped me to become the person I am now. So with that in mind, let's jump into the why, the how, and the way that you can learn to do the same.

There are so many reasons for this. Sometimes, like I said above, you realise that there's nothing in this for you. In this case I'm talking about things that aren't coming from friends, but relative strangers or acquaintances in the writing world. There would be people asking for me to review their book, or for me to sign up to this course and help them with this. And the majority of the time, even though I knew I wouldn't necessarily enjoy the book, or have the energy to help with the course, I would do it, because I didn't want to let them down.

The outcome was always the same, I was drained, had spent precious energy on things that I had no wish to be a part of, and then with the pandemic bringing everything to a standstill, I started to realise that I had nothing left to give. So when someone asked something of me that I knew I wouldn't enjoy, or want to do, I said no, and I got so freaking anxious about it. They were completely fine with it. They didn't hound me or anything, I'd just never had the confidence to say no before.

And it was so freeing! I could suddenly work out what I did and didn't want to do. I no longer felt pressure from myself to respond to every request with a yes. Whether this was people approaching me as a reviewer wanting to read one of my books, or as an author wanting me to be part of something they were doing. It freed up my time so that I could spend more of it on doing things I actually wanted to be a part of.

I don't need to tell you all to be polite about it, I know that you're probably not someone who would be nasty, but it's really simple to do and I'm kinda frustrated at myself for taking this long to get to the point where I realised that my time was my own, and I could control, and have some say, in how I spent that time.

For me it was about weighing things up, was I going to have fun? Was I going to enjoy the process? Or was it going to be stressful and fraught with tension at a time when I didn't need any more stress on my plate. If the answers were right, then I would continue to do them, but otherwise, I found it easier to be able to just say, hey I can't do this right now, good luck with your project.

The big thing I found was that a lot of other writers have the same anxieties that I have, they want to make sure that people are happy and supported, they want to make sure that they're helping when they can. I know there are always bad apples in any community, and there are here too, but knowing that I could be honest about my time and energy really helped me see the way forward.

So there you go, if you ever have trouble saying no to something you really don't want to do, then think about the why, the reasoning behind it, and see about trying to say no to it. You might find it really works for you.

Any questions? Lemme know below!

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