Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Art of Saying No for Writers (And a Writing Book Give-Away)

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Writers are often asked to volunteer, give of their time and talents, bend, stretch, and fed guilt-lines to convince them to edit, speak, teach, write, mentor for free, read my book and tell me what’s wrong, and the list goes on. You probably have been posed the same question.

Please don’t misinterpret my thoughts about helping others. A willingness to serve is a positive trait for all of us. Unfortunately, too many times we say “yes” because we feel it’s our obligation to respond positively to all opportunities, but the art of saying “no” takes guts, planning, determination, and practice.

The problem of always saying “yes” can affect us negatively. Burn out can sour us permanently on what we once held as our deepest desire.
  • The writer’s manuscripts are late or are written poorly. The repercussions of this practice are developing an unprofessional reputation and losing credibility along with future contracts.
  • The writer sacrifices nutritionally sound eating, exercising, and quality sleeping hours. As a result, the writer’s physical health suffers.
  • The writer’s mental health spirals downhill, which means a mix of negative feelings and a poor self image. The writer can also become resentful of others.

Writers don't want all that extra baggage weighing them down!

How can we graciously decline a request without feeling stressed, guilty, or avoiding those who have solicited our help? For that matter, how many times have you refused to answer your phone or open an e-mail for fear someone is enlisting your help?
First determine if the request is an opportunity to contribute something worthwhile. Will you feel satisfaction and be proud of the work ahead and the finished product? Will you look back on the endeavor and be glad you were involved? If this isn’t a project for you, the following will help you in responding. Remember being truthful seals your integrity.
  • Thank you for thinking of me. I’m honored that you’d consider me for your event. My calendar is presently filled. Perhaps I can recommend another writer/speaker?
  • Thank you for the opportunity to assist in your plans. I’m currently on deadline and will need to decline. Would you like for me to suggest another professional?
  • Thank you for taking the time to contact me. Although I’m not currently taking on additional projects, feel free to contact me in the future.
  • Congratulations on finishing your writing project. I understand the importance of feedback before submitting your manuscript to an agent/editor. At the present, I’m unable to add additional work to my schedule. Thank you for thinking of me.

Take a deep breath. That wasn’t so difficult. You can say no and feel good about it!


Do you have a burning passion to pen a novel but don’t know where to begin? Have you been writing but your work still remains unpublished? Are you ready to take positive steps toward pursuing your dream of creating a polished novel? The Dance of Character and Plot is for you. This how-to book will take you from story idea to self-editing with lots of resources!

Comment below and be entered in a random drawing for a personalized or e-copy of The Dance of Character and Plot.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. 

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. 

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at


  1. Thanks DiAnn for your suggestions. Recently I had a friend who is writing a novel ask if she could pay me to edit her script. I really had to pray about that. I want to help her, but know if I commit to being paid to edit her script, it might affect our friendship plus take time away from my own writing. I offered to help when I could, but not for pay. Your suggestions above are helpful and not offending. Thank you.

  2. DiAnn, Thank you for this post. I have a hard time saying no. I want to help everyone. As a new writer I have done a few trade publication articles for free. They were well received. Now I will charge. I help a few writers with small tasks but nothing big yet. Thanks for preparing me to say no in a polite way.

  3. You knew I needed that, didn't you? I get really good at saying no, and then I slip again. Fortunately, I haven't missed any deadlines, but I need to cull out a few things.

  4. This is always one of the most difficult things to do, and there is always guilt attached. I get asked to read books for new authors not published, to edit, etc., and it's always awkward to say no. I've gotten a little better at it, but it's still a guilt-inducing process. Excellent post. Thank you.

  5. This is really good advice. Being a writer, you would think that I would have lots of ways to say NO, but that is not usually the case. Thanks for the tips and giveaway. This book is on my resource TBR list.

  6. I'm laughing at these comments because I'm right there with you! There are lots of wonderful projects for us to get involved in, but that doesn't mean we're supposed to do them!

  7. *sigh*
    Am guilty of being the one asking for help all the time. Mainly I just want an opinion and guidance since I haven't reached the editing stage.

    So despite the busy schedules am so so soooooo greatful to all the authors who take time out to read and give an opinion and advice even if it's just a couple of lines.

    Yep. For me the yes is a blessing. :D

    *Guilty as charged*

  8. Mav, you never know when you ask! Perhaps the next time you could offer writing a review for the author's book or inviting them to do a guest blog on your site or simply promote the person through social media.

  9. Wonderful suggestions, DiAnn. I'm not in that league yet, but I can see where this would come in helpful in any area that sucks away from writing time: PTA? No, I can't chair that position, but I'll help for a few hours on the day of the event.

  10. Thanks for the great suggestions. This is timely for me, too, but also such a quandary. Like Mav, I sometimes need to ask for help from those who are ahead of me in the writing journey so I try to be as helpful as I can. It's nice to see examples of how to graciously respond when we just can't fit in another "to do."

    1. Congratulations, Johnnie! Your name was drawn to receive a free copy of The Dance of Character and Plot. Would you kindly email me at with your address for a physical book or your preference for an e-book? Thank you!

    2. Wow! What a great surprise. Thank you!

  11. Such great advice once again. Watching our time is important. I'm trying now to return to the routine of writing daily - it is a struggle.

  12. I'm having so much fun reading your comments. Now to see who will will a copy of the Dance of Character and plot. Readers can comment until midnight.

  13. As a homeschooling mom for 24 years I learned early on how to say "no". If I didn't my three children would never have gotten lessons completed. Since I no longer teach my children I started writing (again). I've written two manuscripts that are in great need of revising and editing. I could really use all the help I can get and this book sounds perfect. Thanks!