Why do so many of us have trouble just saying no? Because most of us have been programmed to say yes, to be a people pleaser. Usually the problem is that we are afraid of conflict. We think, “What will this person do or say if I don’t help out?”
Well, if you can’t stand conflict in life, then you sure won’t be able to write conflict on the page. Conflict is what stories are made of, so get used to it. Enjoy it. When writers can’t stand to do bad things to their characters, they usually are terrified of conflict. These writers rarely have successful careers. Be assertive!
This tip is also all about sticking to your guns, because once you say no to someone, you have to stand firm. If you backpedal at all, you will lose all momentum for saying no again in the future. Be true to your word and to yourself. If you say no, it means no.
Also be careful of maybes. Sometimes we feel guilty for saying no, so we instead decide to say maybe to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Don’t do it. Maybes only lead other people on. It leaves them thinking there is hope and that they can wear you down. It also shows them that you devalue your other commitments and aren’t sure of yourself. Always say no firmly and directly. If you really feel bad, say, “No, not until next month when I am finished with a current commitment. Please feel free to check in with me next month.”