Articles

Category :

Career Advice

Saying no to everything else

Saying no to everything else

Steven Pressfield had called himself an author for years, but he’d never actually finished a book. He just went through life feeling smug, feeling better than those regular schmucks, because he thought of himself as an author.

But the psychological pain of not producing kept building until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He decided to finally beat that devil he calls “The Resistance”.

He created a situation with no escape. Rented a cabin with only a typewriter, and shut off all other options.

“I had a book in mind and I had decided I would finish it or kill myself. I could not run away again, or let people down again, or let myself down again. This was it, do or die.”

“I didn’t talk to anybody during [that year]. I didn’t hang out. I had no TV, no radio, no music. No sex, no sports. I didn’t read the newspaper. I just worked.”

After an incredibly difficult year of wrestling with those inner demons and avoiding all temptations, he did it. He finished his first book. It wasn’t a success, but it didn’t matter. He had finally beat The Resistance. He went on to write many successful novels.

He told this story in the great book “Turning Pro”, the third in his series of little books about the creative struggle, including “The War of Art” and “Do the Work”. Read all three.

When I read it in 2012, my own psychological pain of not producing had built up to an unbearable level. I had loudly announced Muckwork, my brilliant new business idea, in 2008, but never finished making it. I loudly announced Songtest, a free open song contest idea, in 2009, but never finished making it.

I started many times, but each time decided to chase some other distraction that didn’t put my ass on the line, instead. There are always more emails to answer, always more things to learn, and always more people with enticing requests for me to help them achieve their dreams. (Each one swearing it’ll be just an hour of my time, tops.)

To make it worse, I was living in distracting Singapore, surrounded by so many interesting people, and with a short flight I could be in 16 countries for under $200.

So I decided to do my version of the Steven Pressfield cabin. I moved to New Zealand. I shut off all other options. Time to finish what I started.

Except for better or for worse, I still answer my email. I still get a hundred requests a week, but now it’s easier to say no to all of them, since I’m not local.

It’s not the nicest mantra, saying “no”, “no”, “no” all day. But it is a reminder of why I’m here.

I’m posting this now because a few people have asked why I say no to all requests, so I hope this helps explain.

But also this makes it a follow-up to my popular “Hell Yeah or No” post. There’s another level beyond that. It’s saying yes to one thing, and no to absolutely everythingelse.




Originally a professional musician and circus clown, Derek Sivers created CD Baby in 1998.


It became the largest seller of independent music online, with $100M in sales for 150,000 musicians.


In 2008, Derek sold CD Baby for $22M, giving the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education.


He is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, with over 5 million views of his talks.


In 2011, he published a book which shot to #1 on all of its Amazon categories.




5 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Demo

Everything You Need to Know About Branding

How to Sell More Music as an Unsigned Artist

Musicians, the gig economy, and online learning... a happy (but dysfunctional) family.

If You Want to be a Recording Artist You Need the Right Development

15 Things You Must Do to Make it in the Music Industry

Managing Expectations

Consistency Equals Success

How To Get Better: Practice

Separate The Emotion From The Event

Turn it down a few notches, please!

Are You Taking Ownership Of Your Songwriting Success?

The Shawshank Songwriter

Show Me Your Songwriting Friends, And I'll Show You Your Future

Getting out of a bad place

Taking your Music From a Hobby to a Career

How to change or build your career

CHOOSING THE PERFECT BAND NAME

4 important qualities of a band manager

Touring Advantages/Disadvantages From Less Than Jake

What musicians can learn from Joan Rivers

What you can learn from Bob Dylan's Career

Yes You're Talented, But Remember This…

Two Things That You Can Do to Start Making Music Industry Contacts Today

Promoting Music Internationally – The Right Way

How to Sell More Merchandise at Your Show

How To Reach The Best Music Business Contacts. Period.

4 Ways To Be A Boss A$$ Indie Artist

Are you over looking this strategy to becoming a better musician

Why You Should Be Doing House Shows

It's All of Your Business

Don't Buy Your Own Tunes

What If You Didn't Need Money or Attention?

Why Bands Need to Stop Bitching

What's In Your Toolbox?

Why You Need a Live Music Producer (And Don't Even Know It)

Many Eggs, Many Baskets: How to Make a Living as a Musician in 2014

Your Music is Just a Hobby. So What? Part 1 of TBD

Defining Success And How To Achieve It With A Career In Music

Why Talent Isn't Enough

Why You Need Your Own Superhero Alter-Ego

How To Make It In The Music Industry

What If The Label Says "YES"?

How to Avoid Artistically Starving to Death

20 Worst Indie Artist Mistakes

Why Your Most Important Tool In Being A Successful Indie Musician Might Actually Be Your Day Job

The Importance of Branding as Recording Artists

Why Bad Days Can Do You A World Of Good

How To Tell If You Need Singing Lessons

How To Ruin Your Music Career In 10 Easy Steps – Part 2 (Steps 6-10)

How to Stay Motivated to Make Music

The Self-Promotion Tactic that Fails Every Time

3 Important Lessons In Success From Bob Dylan

Sell 1000 CD's In a Weekend

Music Licensing – 90 Day Challenge

Superfans: The Key to a Sustainable Music Career

A Solution To The DIY Artists Biggest Challenge

How To Ruin Your Music Career In 10 Easy Steps – Part 1 (Steps 1-5)

What to Look For In A Distributor

Does 99% of Jazz Suck? – The Jazz Kickstarter That Seduced 870 Backers

Are You Making These 9 Band Rehearsal Mistakes?

Enhancing Your Music Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Press Kits for Musicians

7 Important Aspects to Getting Noticed in the Music World

7 Tactics to Double the Size of Your Fanbase

Why The Vocals On Your Track Are Vitally Important And How You Can Improve Them

Top 3 Tips To Find The Right Singing Teacher

Some Will Always Say You're Wrong

That Time'n Thang

Leap Of Faith

Showtime

Question & Doubt

Eat Lighting

Connecting With People In The Industry

Five Reasons You're Not Licensing More Music

The Importance Of Following Up In The Music Licensing Business

How To Fund Your Band's Kickstarter When You Have No Fan Base

Human Intervention as a Competitive Advantage

A Quick & Dirty Guide to Branding

Why it Pays to Replace Self-Promotion with Selflessness

Rules for Confronting a Difficult Band Member

Valuable To Others, or Only You?

It's All Who You Know?

Ignore Your Website & Social Networks and Your Career Will Suffer

Three Intelligent Ways to Make a Living as a Musician

What Musicians Should Carry at all Times

Sometimes Big Promo Doesn't Work

Avoid Band Drama: Be Up Front

How To Effectively Handle A Flaky Band Member

Why No One Is Listening To Your Music

Establish Your Blueprint

How To Avoid Serious Mistakes When Choosing An Agent

Managing The Fear of The Unknown In The Music Industry

How To Balance A Family, Your Music Career, And Your Stresses

MusicPreneur - The New Music Industry Mindset

Band Leading 202 - Gigs

How Does An Independent Artist Stay Relevant While Creating New Music?

What It Takes To Be A Successful DIY Independent Artist

Band Leading 101 - Rehearsal

How To Make Lots Of Money Selling Your Merchandise

Why You Need Great Pictures As An Artist

Overnight Success - Does That Happen?

The Power of Positive Thinking

Goal Setting Tips That Work

Easy Tips For Engaging Your Fans

Getting Things Done As A Team

4 Common Newsletter Mistakes You Should Avoid

Creating Your Social Media Image

Effectively Utilize Your Youtube Music Videos

Tips For Building A Bigger Fanbase

How To Build A Professional Music Team

The Top 5 Ways To Get Noticed in Today's Music Industry

Why Radio Spins Matter And Tips On How To Get Them

Networking Essentials For The Music Business

Why You Should Be On Pinterest

Signup Free