Say No

Are closed doors negative things?The creative life may be one of saying “yes,” but it necessarily also is one of saying “no.” To say “yes” to one thing is to say “no” to another thing. Both answers are frightening; the one incurs risk, and the other closes doors.

At least, “no” seems to close doors. It does in the sense that a person stops pursuing a particular aim – if only for a while. The person may be able to revisit that door at some point and to go through it. Then again, the door may remain closed, but many other doors will open as a result of saying “no” to that one door.

Choosing to say “no” is difficult, especially for some people. It’s hard to turn away opportunities when one is struggling to make ends meet. It’s tempting to accept an opportunity that seems almost too good to be true except for the niggling sense of doubt or uncertainty that accompanies it. It can be problematic to say “no” when presented with opportunities from friends who are trying to help.

Perhaps the only way to know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” is to take a closer look at one’s creative aims. Where does one want to go? How will one get there? What risks should be taken, should be told “yes,” and which opportunities – doors – should be closed or told “no”?


  1. There can be an art to saying “no”.  One that doesn’t offend, attempts not to burn bridges and not offend.  But there are times where you’ve got to be prepared for that to be a result of “no”.  We shouldn’t be afraid to say it; society and false humility makes us feel like we’ve either got to say “yes” or make a false excuse. 

    •  @Jacob Yount I feel as though I should borrow DannyBrown ‘s “awesome comment” statement. I agree with you; there is an art to saying “no.” Sometimes, though, no matter how tactful or honest (mixed with some graciousness) we are, we’re going to offend someone. We can’t please everyone, right?
      I just realized I haven’t been by your blog in a while. I need to remedy that.

  2. Saying “No” can often be as rewarding as saying “Yes”, for me at least. I tend to want to always say “Yes”, but the little voice in my head is getting wiser and will step in and let me know when I’m about to agree to something that will be a burden down the road.
    My little voice was nowhere to be found, yesterday, when I decided to give NaNo a try this year. Ugh.  I better go do some writing, as these words don’t advance my story, nor do they count towards the 50K.

    • @ExtremelyAvg I, too, have had to learn to say “no” and to listen to that cautionary voice.
      How goes NaNoWriMo? I’m always glad I’m a poet and not a novelist during National Novel Writing Month. 😉

      • @Erin F. I’ve made it to day 2, word wise. I hope to get to day 3 by 8:00 and hopefully be nearing the end of day three by bed.  Tomorrow, I want to get caught up. The actual word count is 1525, right now.

        • @Erin F. I meant 1725…stupid typo.  Okay, back to writing.

        • @Erin F. I’m up to 2640, now, so still waaaay behind.

        • @ExtremelyAvg I like that you give me the running tally. 🙂
          How are you scheduling your time? I’ve heard some people arrange for twenty-five full days of writing so that they have some flex time. Would doing that help you in any way?

        • @Erin F. I’m not really one to schedule. If I have something else I need to do (laundry and clean gutters, today), I’ll stop and do them, otherwise I’m pretty much thinking about the story.
          One thing I’m finding difficult, is since I haven’t finished the first book in the series and have no idea how it ends, there are times I feel like I should be referencing and giving back story for stuff that hasn’t been figured out, yet.
          It is possible, I’m completely nuts to try this.  hehe…which is perfect for me.

        • @ExtremelyAvg I usually just write myself a note when I touch upon points for which I don’t have information or need more information and continue writing. Is that what you’re doing?

        • @Erin F. Mostly I try to find out the missing information before I move on.

        • @ExtremelyAvg I guess that means you’ll have to make sure the first book aligns with the second. 🙂

        • @Erin F. I certainly will.  Who knows, it could all go horribly wrong, but words can always be fixed.

        • @ExtremelyAvg I once read a post that talked about getting through the ugly middle. Until you reach the ending or what could be the ending, you have to keep writing.