Having to say NO when I don’t want to – by Lynn Burke #WritersLife

I hardly know it all. Really.

But there’s something about having ‘published author’ attached to your name that makes people think you do. In the past few years I’ve had 20 publications but that does NOT make me a pro in the book writing field.

Funny enough, some people believe it does.

A handful of people have contacted me since my journey to publication began to sprout little seedlings, wanting to know if I would write their stories – their memoirs, their unique journeys through this life.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset by this in the least! Quite honored, actually. BUT, I’m a fiction writer. I don’t have a clue about memoirs or biographies, nor would I even know where to start.

I’ve even had a few pitch their own ideas / plots to me in the hopes that I would write the book for them.


How the heck do you say no to these people? These family members and friends who would do anything for YOU should you ask them??? NOT easy. As soon as someone says to me, “I have an idea I want to share with you” or “I’m wondering if you would be willing to write my life story…”

Yup. That’s my reaction. On the inside, anyway.

What do I say? How do I let them down gently? HOW can I even do either???!! The non-fiction idea peeps are easier to deal with, since I honestly don’t know anything about that market. Even so, I always feel like I’m offering excuses when I should be jumping at the chance to help them.

*Smash head on table*

Oh, but the others – those folks who have a plot line that just needs characters, a world, flesh, voice, and WORDS. Le sigh.

I really have a hard time telling them that it’s nearly impossible (for me) to write a story that wasn’t inspired by my own brain. You other writers know what I’m talking about? Yes, there are anthology calls I’ve submitted to, but ONLY ones that triggered an idea of my own. One my muse ran away with.

If it’s not my fictional baby, my own WiP, I find it impossible to say yes.

So, what do I do?

Encourage them to write it on their own. It’s their story, it should be in their voice, their style. THEN I offer to take a peek at it when they’re finished, or send them onto a rockin’ critique site like Scribophile where they can hone their craft and spit-shine that manuscript for submission.

*big cleansing breath*

How ’bout you? Can you say ‘NO’ when you really feel you shouldn’t / don’t want to? What’s the worst ‘would you mind…’ have you encountered?

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