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Knowing When To Decline Writing Work Offers

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 24 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
Author; Authors; Writer; Writers; Write;

As any writer will tell you, sometimes the hardest word to say is, "No." However, if you truly want to work at your highest level, you occasionally need to decline a project or assignment, though it may pain you to do so.

There are plenty of excellent reasons to walk away from an opportunity to write; here, we'll look at a few of the times when walking away is truly the best decision you can make.

When You Know You Can't Finish the Job

If you're already swamped and a chance to write comes you way, you have to weigh your options very carefully.

Yes, this assignment might be incredibly lucrative, and it might be with a magazine or publication for which you've been "dying" to write. However, can you honestly do your best for this editor?

If you have any doubts as to whether you can finish this "chance of a lifetime" article, essay, or ghostwriting project, declining, though painful, may be your strongest move. After all, if you accept and either can't complete the job or, worse yet, turn in a lacklustre manuscript, you will have done yourself (and your reputation as a professional writer) a terrible service.

When You Don't Know (or Trust) the Editor

Sometimes, you'll be offered a very exciting-sounding writing project by an editor you don't know. Though you want to "bite" immediately, something tells you to be cautious.

If you're getting strange "gut feelings" about this particular editor or his or her organisation, you might want to pass on the assignment. Alternately, you might want to investigate the company or publication further before agreeing to do any work. Even if a huge money "carrot" is dangled in front of you, it might be better to turn down the offer than to find yourself working for someone on whom you cannot rely.

When You Don't Like the Direction of the Publication

If you find that you're offered an assignment with a publication whose focus offends you, it's best to turn down the assignment politely but firmly.

For example, if you're invited to become a columnist for a controversial webzine or publisher and you feel that you'd have to compromise your ethics or personal integrity to become an author for them, you need to say "thanks, but no thanks." You don't even have to give your reasoning. Just remember that at the end of the day, it's your eyes you'll see in the mirror.

When An Assignment Leaves You Cold

As authors, we often must accept jobs that aren't the crème de la crème, especially when we're just starting out. However, if you are truly bored by a topic area and have the opportunity to turn down the assignment without risking the wrath of an editor (or winding up with a zero balance in your bank account), feel free to do so. It's better to write about what you like whenever possible.

Yes, it's good to stretch your proverbial "wings", but if you keep accepting jobs that turn your brain to mush, you'll become less enchanted with your newfound occupation and more likely to turn in rubbish.

Again, it's never easy to walk away from a chance to write, especially in a market that's so bereft of security. But the author who can turn down assignments for specific, professional reasons is always going to be more powerful than he or she who takes on everything that's offered to him or her.

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