Wednesday 11 June 2014

The Power of No

By Catherine Hudson

Photo ©

Life can get crazy. This seems to be exacerbated by the unprecedented technology available with all its choices—and that’s to say nothing of the usual chores that have to be done if we want to eat, sleep, and have clean clothes to put on in the morning.

This is where the smallest word can be the most powerful. NO.
This tiny word has the potential to enable, to bring freedom, and even to bring a framework or boundary to everyday modern life.

First up, NO opens the door to YES. Huh? Yes — you heard me, NO enables you to say yes. There are so many choices, so many ways to spend our time and energy and saying NO can make way for saying yes to something better or timelier.

We live in an age of more, but we can’t have it all. NO can eliminate, a sort of multi-choice method. All the options can be laid out on the table, making clear which items can be crossed from the list. We can choose then how to engage our time, energy and personal gifts.

This is particularly true of writers. There are several parts to the job: actually writing and editing (production), writing craft (study), and platform, better known as marketing. If publication is on the table, there’s a multitude of options that kind of boil down to two — Traditional publishing, or Indie.

Writers can work back from these two end results and ask what we want, saying NO to the myriad of demands and options, then focus our energy into what will bring the desired end result.

This works much the same for other areas of our life. Having a vision of where we want to end up can keep us heading in that direction and maintaining purpose along the way.

NO can give boundaries. Most commonly, NO creates boundaries within relationships. It’s the word that says “I will not overpower another, and neither will I be overpowered.” It creates mutuality. Of course it can bring tension — but then writers would simply harness that for story….

All jokes aside, NO has been a friend to me in keeping life ticking along, my writing moving forward, and strengthening the connections with those around me. How about you? Have you taken stock recently?

What is your desired end result?

What resources and giftings are available to reach it?

Where are the edges or boundaries? Can I define them better by saying NO?

Hopefully as we hit this mid-year mark we can slow the train and make sure we are on the right track whether for writing or our personal lives. I know this is something I have to do. Do you?

Catherine Hudson writes Historical and Contemporary romance for the CBA market. She was a finalist in the 2013 MARA Fiction from the Heartland contest.


  1. 'No enables you to say yes.' I like that Catherine - I remember in a workshop I attended in which the presenter put up a huge YES but when you looked closer it was made up of little 'no's. The point was to have discernment in how we use our time & not to say 'yes' just for the sake of it or to please others. When we say yes to everything we may end up saying no to what really matters. Thannks for the post.

    1. Thanks Jeanette - I wish I had a copy of that sign to put on my wall! It would have been a good picture for this post.

  2. Cat, I love this post! It's liberating to understand the importance of saying no when it's appropriate. Knowing your end goal can help you choose which opportunities to explore, and which ones to decline.

    I also think the way you say 'no' is really important. I was chatting with a friend the other day. She had contacted a large number of acquaintances to offer them a specific opportunity. She expected the majority would probably say no, and give her a thanks, but no thanks response. What did surprise her was the lack of manners exhibited, either in abrupt responses or her request being read (eg. Facebook messenger) and completely ignored. It's often not the no answer that can potentially damage relationships, but the way the whole exchange is handled.

    1. Thanks Narelle, it certainly is liberating and can prevent much stress.
      That's a shame your friend had that experience - here's hoping she says 'no' to allowing others responses to dwell in her thoughts and hurt her.

  3. Thanks for the wise reminder, Catherine. If you're sure of the reason behind the 'no' then that negates the guilt factor. We all want to be generous but must draw the lines to survive the busy times in which we live.

    1. Thanks Rita. It certainly can become about survival can't it? We want to live, not just survive.

  4. The art of saying 'no'. Beautifully said, a much-needed reminder that it's okay to choose what we say yes to rather than become a slave to 'what will people think if I say no?'

    1. Thanks Andrea. I wonder if too many of us spend too much time wondering what others are thinking of us and our choices - I suspect its far less than we think.

  5. Hi Cat, wonderful post! Especially for busy writers. I really liked your challenge in the end to consider defining our boundaries better by saying, 'no.'

    Wonderful to ponder as a writer that answering with a NO might take us to God's best place for us, afterall. :)

    Thanks for sharing.


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