Creative people say “no”

It has been a long time since my last post – two months, in fact. For a while, I considered not blogging anymore because I am having trouble keeping up and then, after a wacky dream, no less, I decided that this is something I really want to do, as part of realigning my priorities.

I think, hope, that I have finally learned that sometimes creative people have to say “no”.

Last March I read a blog post over at Two Hands Healing and Creative Arts which referenced an article from Business Insider. The article is “The Most Successful Creative People Constantly Say ‘No'”, by Kevin Ashton.

In the article, Ashton quotes management writer Peter Drucker: “One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe, whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours — productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well” (Italics mine).

Now of course if the Good Lord has “fitted” you to help the work of other people and that is what you enjoy doing then do it and do it well. However, if you feel called to write, make music, create art or do anything creative in order to do it well you must see your time as fleeting and valuable. You must learn to say “no” to a lot of things that would distract you from your work. In the end if you are doing what the Good Lord has fit you to do you will help other people. It’s a natural result.

Around the time that I stopped writing, I naively said ‘yes’ to a very good thing. The only problem is that it was completely out of my scope of priorities and I went off track. And while the activity was good, it was a major time consumer. In fact, it gobbled up all of my free time.  As a result, I faced frustration and anxiety. My store and my creative work suffered. My family, especially my husband, also suffered from my decision so while I said “yes” to a good thing, it turned out to not be such a good thing for me and my family.

Ashton writes, “We are not taught to say ‘no.’ We are taught not to say ‘no.’ ‘No’ is rude. ‘No’ is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. ‘No’ is for drugs and strangers with candy.”

Saying ‘no’ induces guilt. Saying ‘no’ means that some people may not like you. Saying ‘no’ may mean that you spend time alone. Conversely, saying ‘no’ means that you  may have some peace.

“Time is the raw material of creation,” Ashton writes.

I would like to hang that phrase somewhere so that I don’t forget. My priorities should consist of family and what God wants me to do. Most things fall under those two categories anyway.

 

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