I have too many writing opportunities coming my way, and not sure which to pursue



The Context

In the world of visual design, whitespace is a critical compositional element. It literally enables objects to exist. Whitespace helps the work breathe. It creates balance, focus and sophistication. And it represents the aesthetic balance between positive and negative. Identity, then, is no different. We define the whitespace around ourselves every time we say no.

The Tool

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WHITESPACING — Defining your creative journey by the work you decline

You’re defined by what you decline. It’s a beautiful moment when you realize what you can’t do. After all, sometimes that’s the only way to free yourself to focus on what’s left. Like the boxer with a broken arm, you realize you have no choice but to develop your speed. What are you afraid to let go of? You've got to start saying no to the good to make room to say yes to the best.

I recently met with a potential client who requested a number of professional services, one of which was project management. Translation, tons of detailed, back and forth, technical process kind of work. Vomit. The mere thought of that work made my chest tighten. And so, I told him, you don’t want me for this job. It’s not my sweet spot, I’m not excited as I hear about it, and I know I wouldn’t be happy doing it. Thanks for the consideration, but agreeing to this work would be a disservice to your company. I was proud myself. That conversation was a healthy milestone for me. Especially because it’s so hard to say no when you’re hungry. When was the last time you turned down new business?

The Rest

Steve Jobs made a similar distinction, he said this. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. Remember, you're not inflexible or stiff, just focused. And when you focus yourself, you free yourself. What doors will saying no open for you?

The Benefits

Free yourself to focus on your strengths
Feel proud at having set artistic boundaries around your projects
Make creative room to say yes to the work that will have the highest impact and fulfilment
Avoid the erosion of your time, the decay of your focus and the meaninglessness of your work

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