On face value, it may seem as though I've wasted a large portion of the last two months for nothing, but for me it's been a good experience. On Friday, after trying to write two lengthy and detailed draft chapters and a proposal for a new book idea, I decided to say "No."
Too many print outs, half-hearted self-editings, re-writes, enhancing the premise, finding more case studies and dry statistics, re-examining my examples and modifying the messages was leaving me drained and distinctly unexcited about the time and energy it was taking.
So I said no. "No" as in, "I'm not enjoying this. It doesn't really enthuse or interest me and my heart's not in it." I was writing it for the wrong reasons - because the topic was a lofty one not discussed at length before; the subject matter would hopefully touch upon a few raw nerves of readers I particularly wanted to annoy; the siren song of the dollar signs (potentially) on offer by the publisher was particularly alluring and - being brutally honest here - I thought it would give me a bit more attention.
The relief I now feel at saying, "No thanks" is bigger than my arse was after twelve weeks of sitting down, eating a family block of chocolate each day at the keyboard with little exposure to sunlight or exercise whilst writing the first book. As for the attention issue, I'm getting enough of it by finally just being myself and not by the exhausting and pointless process of trying to convince people I don't care about that there is indeed a brain of sorts lurking beneath my chubbo-cheeky exterior.
Saying 'No' is part of the advice given to readers in 'Work/Life Balance for Dummies' as a way of freeing up time for better and more important issues, having more control in what happens in work and home time and even enjoying the thrill in surprising people who automatically assume that the answer will always be "Yes, of course I'll do that for you." How nice it is to be finally taking my own advice.
"Yeah, the school fete day is going to be great, but no, I won't be able to be part of the fundraising committee this year." Why - because I've done it for four years in a row and my time from 9am to 3pm this year is to be spent trying to cram in all the research, writing, photography, ideas development, reviews and radio opportunities I can.
"No, I'm not going to accept being unfairly insulted and instead keep reminding myself to 'not take it personally' - instead I'll cease contact with you and wait for an apology which is what I deserve." Geez it felt so good to be able to say that after being such a good, understanding and tolerant girl all my sensible life.
"No, I don't want to go to that function next week..... Why?.....Because I don't feel like it and would rather stay home." After uttering this one, I honestly thought a friendship was over, but it wasn't. They liked hearing the truth and in the end they too decided that life was too short to go out to an event on a freezing cold weeknight out of duty (how much handmade jewellery at born yesterday prices does a girl need anyway?).
And my current favourite: "No, I'm not working on that one anymore. I'm going to start the book that's closer to my heart and is one that I'm genuinely itching to write." The book that makes me sit up in bed at 3am to jot down an unforgettable line or makes me laugh when I'm on the treadmill, the toilet or poring over the newspaper.
Oh don't ever forsake the classic "No, I think the floors can cope without being vacuumed for another week. Let's go out for lunch instead. " This is an essential for us all.
Try saying it; you'll like it.