Posted by: stelladuffy | June 1, 2011

new June, new regime

Right then, for some time now it has been increasingly apparent that I’m Doing Too Much. One book, two films, two ongoing theatre projects, there always seems to be a short story on the go, this blog (of course!), other events to promote books/teach writing/share ideas, as well as the vital things that are my garden, my wife, our friends, my buddhist practice, my life. And none of them in that order. Something has to change.
So I’ve been thinking about saying no.
‘No’ is a tricky one for me, I firmly believe that Yes is Bigger Than No (that’s the title of my as-yet-not-written-impro-as-self-help-book I’ve been going to write for about 15 years now), I honestly believe that saying Yes, Yes And, Accept and Build (trad, old-fashioned impro basic that it is) is the best way to live, to create, to work, to make work. It’s what’s led me to all the brilliant things I do that I love doing and to meeting so many amazing people, having the life I have that I always enjoy – as long as I’m not too knackered to enjoy it. But … sometimes (well, quite often actually) I find myself saying yes to things I really want to say no to. So yes has become almost a burden, the imposition to say yes. The self-imposition to say yes.
And here’s my way around it … when I really, truly want to say no, when saying no would actually be better for me/my work/my life, I’m going to say yes to saying no. (Yay! So it’s still saying yes!)
I thought I might wait until next year and do it for a year, not least because I have an already-booked very busy July, very busy October, even busier November.
And then I realised waiting 7 months to do something I really want to do is a big old No to myself. So, as of now, June 1st, I’m saying Yes to saying No.
I can’t see myself doing it much, but what I’m going to work on this month is putting the small things last (instead of my usual practice of putting the small things first, in order to ‘clear my desk’ as it were, and then finding I don’t quite have enough time for the big things that really matter.) That means, most days, this month, instead of clearing my email inbox first, I’m going to get on with my book edit first. The book edit is what I care about most right now, it’s most pressing and matters most to me. So I’m going to give it that attention. It may mean I’m less speedy on getting back about short story edits, or film project notes, or theatre making. Oh well, I’ll just be like most people. (I’ll probably get less of those “thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly” message, but there’s a chance they’re not quite as gratifying as I think they are.)
That doesn’t mean (those of you who think one project at a time is plenty!) that I’ll be doing less projects – oh no, I love ALL my projects, and each one feeds the others – it does mean I’m going to try prioritizing. Each day may have new priorities, I’ll see how that turns out.
Priority today was to swim, chant and be at my desk by 10am. Done.
Priority 2 was to start my edit by 10.30am – about to do.

Theodora’s published in paperback tomorrow (in the UK). Yay.


  1. Something to say yes to:
    I would like to personally invite you to attend the private view of ‘Current’ Contemporary Art from New Zealand and the Pacific, featuring Virginia King, Andy Leleisi’uao , Nic Moon, James F. Ormsby, Filipe Tohi & Rueben Paterson.
    It happens on Wednesday 22 June, 6pm and will be opened by Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, Chairman London & Partners in the presence of the artists.
    It would be lovely to see you and catch up on your extremely fabulous and busy life.

  2. Well that’s def something to say yes to – this Tokoroa girl would love to support Pacific art in London! I’ll email you to confirm. (busy yes, not sure you’d say fabulous if you saw the state of my desk and writing attire this morning!)

  3. Your words reminded me of Covey’s Circle of Concern/Circle of Influence & the 30-day proactivity challenge: ‘Put First Things First’ being his 3rd habit of effectiveness, doing what’s important, not what’s most urgent. Happy ‘saw sharpening’ when you get to #7.

  4. so is that good? Who’s Covey?

  5. Taking care of you and Shelley and doing whatever it takes to be happy most important. Doing too much not so good – you don’t want to end up like me. So glad you’re trying this. Big hugs xx

  6. We are what we repeatedly do,
    Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.


    Seven Habits of Effectiveness, Stephen Covey; 1970-something?

    Expresses a similar train of thought to yours today re our tendency to attend to whatever or whoever shouts loudest, rather than what’s most important.

    Covey also argues for greater awareness of the language we use – hence the allusion to the ’30-day Proactivity Challenge’ which is proposed in the book.

    Whilst in the business of acknowledging 1970’s contributions to personal awareness-raising re habitual language, I’m reminded of Jean Liedloff’s insightful little gem ‘The Continuum Concept’.

    Here’s wishing you a happy June. I applaud your ‘proactive’ response to the ‘Pinch, Punch, First Day of the new Month’. Do please blog on the 30th to report.


  7. then I must look Covey up. and Liedloff. and Aristotle, of course! thank you. always wise to check on language and use, totally believe choice of words makes a massive impact. and good idea to review on the 30th – I’ll let you know!

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