How to turn down work


How to turn down work

By Bella Todd 26/11/14
That’s right. Turn down work. Advice tends to concentrate, for rather obvious reasons, on how to get your hands on the stuff. But how and why you say no to a job, contract or commission says a lot about you as a creative professional – and can have repercussions, good and bad, for your future career…

First, consult your comfort zone
Before you hit reply, ask yourself if fear is a factor in saying no. Eleanor Roosevelt famously reckoned we should do one thing every day that scares us (mind you, Eleanor Roosevelt was probably never asked to host a Q&A with Ginger Baker). Matthew Robins, a shadow puppeteer and animator who’s just completed a permanent display for the new Information Age gallery at the Science Museum, says he is now more inclined to say yes if it sounds like a tough project. “I really want to feel pushed and adrift and scared in my work,” he explains. “Then it progresses, and hopefully you produce something you were never expecting.”

Check in with your ego, too
Be wary of saying yes to work simply because you feel flattered by the offer. “Projects I admire and love are sometimes better off without me,” says Michael Page , an up and coming music producer currently working with Moats. “It’s important to have a clear idea about what you can offer and not let your ego get in the way. Sometimes I get offered work by people who have a good thing going on, and there is no obvious place for me in the project, or I think my inclusion might upset things. Band managers I explain this to tend to stay in contact.”

Save the excuses
“The most irritating thing is when people can’t make the deadline for something they pitched themselves, and give you a big list of excuses,” says Kate. “I get everything from ‘I don’t have wifi at the moment’ to ‘I’ve got friends coming to stay’. I don’t really care! And it can come across as a bit too tiny violins. Keeping it short and sweet is much better, so they can get on and find someone else.”

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