Sometimes You Just Have to Say No

The nonfiction journal Brevity has a great blog post about ways to avoid overbooking yourself as a writer. The guest author, Lev Raphael, admits that most young writers say yes to everything for the exposure. However, there is  a danger to that because committing to so many engagements pulls a writer from the daily work schedule. Raphael shares some useful advice he learned from another writer during an engagement at a Jewish Community Center. “It’s not just the day you’re there, she (the other author) said, if it’s only a day.  It’s the day before, getting ready, and then at least one day of re-entry into your regular schedule, sometimes more, depending on how complicated your visit was.”

Raphael also notes that writers should consider whether or not the gig will be fun or challenging, and whether or not the compensation, if there is any, is worth it. Raphael’s post made me reflect upon all of the writing engagements and readings I’ve done in the last few years, which has probably neared 100 or so. More recently, most of them have been worth it and have led to book sales and networking with different writers and literary communities. However, when I first started doing this, I said yes to everything. I’ve driven a few hundred miles round trip to read before five or six people. Looking back, I would have said thanks, but no thanks to some of those engagements. Like Raphael advises, guard your time and worry about the work first and foremost.  Research the conference or reading series. Make sure the drive or air travel is worth it.

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About Brian Fanelli

I'm a poet, teacher, music junkie and much more. My first chapbook of poems, Front Man, was published in 2010 by Big Table Publishing. My full-length book of poems, All That Remains, was published in 2013 by Unbound Content. My latest book, Waiting for the Dead to Speak, was published in the fall of 2016 by NYQ Books. My work has also been published by The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, Harpur Palate, Boston Literary Magazine, Kentucky Review, Verse Daily, Spillway, Portland Review, and several other publications. My poetry has also been featured on "The Writer's Almanac" with Garrison Keillor. Currently, I teach English full-time at Lackawanna College.
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4 Responses to Sometimes You Just Have to Say No

  1. Good advice. Keeping perspective. Thanks for sharing this, Brian.

  2. Lev Raphael says:

    I’m glad you found it helpful, Brian, and thanks for posting about it.

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