“A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read … especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.” —MBR Midwest Book Review

How to Say No

What part of the word 'No' don't you understand?

This was first published July 12, 2023, but it needed updating.

I’m deep into edits for my third middle grade novel (release sate May 1, 2025) and working on finalizing the first draft of a new adult paranormal series. When writing my previous two books, I learned that the secret to success in almost any endeavour is large, uninterrupted blocks of focused time. And this required learning how to say no.

I must decline for secret reasons. E.B.White
I’ve found that saying this baffles people long enough to derail them! And then I can make my escape.

This is especially true when I’m doing research. That means reading, taking notes, considering  where to use the information most effectively and, at the same time, ensure it enhances the story and doesn’t overwhelm it. There’s a lot going on and it takes time.

But how to get that time when there’s always someone who needs the answer to a question, a task done, an event attended. The only real option is to work on how to say no as nicely and firmly as possible. But so often there’s a rebuttal like the innocuous sounding, “But it will just take a minute!” A minute is all fine and good but, according to the lovely people at Mind Tools, it take 23 minutes (!) to regain focus after a single interruption. Who has that kind of time?

It’s impossible to accomplish anything of importance, professionally or personally without the ability to say ‘no’. And ‘NO!’ is a complete sentence.

What part of the word 'No' don't you understand?

If you want to soften it, consider using the E.B. White quote above. If nothing else, I’ve found it baffles people long enough to derail them! I’ve discovered that those who truly care about my wellbeing will not try to manipulate and cajole. They’re happy to wait until my work is done. Besides, how urgent can it be? Unless there’s arterial bleeding, a blocked windpipe, a heart attack, or stroke, quite frankly, it is not an emergency.

Happy and productive writing, everyone!

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