Thursday, February 4, 2010

On Turning Down Work

This is a bit unbelievable to me, but I’m finally at a point where I’ve had to pass on writing opportunities twice this week.

Now, I should add that at least one request was from a company I work with writing regular online content. The work is divvied out weekly, so I can always just pick up more next time or another week. I’m finding that’s the nice thing about a regular gig that includes other writers—there always seems to be someone able to pick up the slack should you need them. The other opportunity was writing a few blog posts in only a few days. I’ve accepted these tight assignments before, and though I prefer a little more time to complete them, I’ve always been able to hunker down and get them done (even with a raging sinus infection where I could barely sit up). But this time—well, I had to decline.

I passed on both of these things because I’m working on larger assignments that are much more time-consuming. One article is a rather long feature on various businesses, so I have to do quite a few interviews for the piece, then turn those interviews into workable text. I’m basically chaining myself to the PC to get as much of it done as possible. I’m also coming up on deadlines with a few other larger pieces and, well, I just felt that the regular assignments will be there next go ‘round.

However, I totally surprised myself because I rarely turn down any kind of writing opportunity that’s offered, no matter how small or what the pay might be (although I did turn down a non-paying gig a few months back). Part of me thinks that if I don’t say yes to whoever is asking, they’ll never ask me again, and I don’t want to turn down any opportunity that might lead to more work, or even something semi-regular. But this time, I just had to say no. And you know what? I feel pretty good about it!

How often do you say “no” to opportunities? How do you weigh your decision on what to accept and what to decline? If you’ve turned down work once (rates and nature of the project were great, you were just too maxed out at the time), were you approached by the same person for other opportunities?

1 comment:

  1. I always try to turn down work when my gut tells me to. For instance, if I get a very bad feeling about an editor or a client, I will try to politely decline regardless of how busy I am. In these cases, I usually hope that they *don't* contact me again and I might make it clear in my email that their project is outside the scope of what I normally do. If it's appropriate, I might refer another freelancer, but I'd hate for them to be an uncomfortable position themselves. If you get offered work that you want to do but you're worried about overcommiting, you could try to negotiate a longer deadline. That way it's a win-win!