Smelling the Roses and Suchlike

I recently read a little blurb in People magazine about Katy Perry:

While her hot streak is impressive, it’s time Perry went away for awhile. Her split with Russell Brand would have been the perfect moment to disappear, let the hair color go natural, and give the creative juices plenty of time to marinate for her next album. There’s a fatigue factor with today’s pop stars who seem afraid to step away from the limelight. Give yourself time to grow—and give us time to miss you.

The same might be said for any of us lesser mortals. With the New York Times reporting stories like this,

Authors are now pulling the literary equivalent of a double shift, churning out short stories, novellas or even an extra full-length book each year. They are trying to satisfy impatient readers who have become used to downloading any e-book they want at the touch of a button, and the publishers who are nudging them toward greater productivity in the belief that the more their authors’ names are out in public, the bigger stars they will become.

…and the never-ending Twitter chatter, Facebook fan pages, and even platform-growing blogs (not to mention e-mail), we are always on call, always wearing our public faces.

The temptation is to live in this world.

I met recently with a woman who is entering the freelance universe, and one of the things we discussed is turning away work. When one is self-employed, the temptation is to say yes to every project that comes one’s way. This has, on more than one occasion, gotten me into an overcommitted and underhoured situation. (One can give up sleep, of course; it’ll do for a while but eventually one gets cranky and the work suffers.)

So I have learned to say no. I say no because my schedule and the client’s schedule don’t mesh. Sometimes I say no because the work on offer is not the sort of work I want to do. But the astonishing thing—and it seems counterintuitive—is every time I have turned work down, the client (most of mine are publishers) has returned with another project later.

I think that’s the message here. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe if you do good work, your fans won’t forget you. And in order to do good work, you have to replenish the creative well. Which means saying no on occasion. (I don’t have any intention, however, of letting my hair color go natural, and Katy, honey, if you’re listening, that purple is lovely. I say go for it.)

Tweet: Is it bad for a freelancer to turn down work?
Tweet: If you do good work, your fans (or clients) won’t forget you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  1. By The Writer's Tapestry on 6 June, 2012 at 6:53 pm

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