Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saying No to Unpaid Work Gracefully and Respectfully

As a poet, adjunct professor and independent writing coach, I don't make a lot of "extra" money. Sometimes doing something for free - like a one time writing workshop - helps to support another organization while spreading the word about my services. And sometimes I (probably like you) am simply asked to work for free. 

The thought of losing potential income and, perhaps most importantly, time, angers me. Why would someone ask me to give away my expertise?

I recently stopped paying attention and asked someone for advice without considering that she probably charges for such work. (We all make mistakes; I was very sorry about this.) I was, amazingly, rewarded with a beautiful rejection note that inspired me to better respect others while teaching me how to say, "no." Here is her response, edited for writers: 

I would love to devote more time and energy to this conversation, but the unfortunate reality is that writers are very often approached to provide free labor on things like this. We simply can't say yes to everything the way we want too. I didn't want to leave you with nothing, so I hope the resources below are helpful. If you'd like to talk more extensively, I can happily arrange a coaching session in which I can give you my undivided attention (insert link here.)

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