For a while, it seemed like I was getting sent this article, “Creative People Say No” at least twice a day. The idea is that creative geniuses say “no” to a lot of requests (like, a psychology professor researching processes of creative genius) in order to get their work done, so if you want to be a creative genius, you have to say no a lot so you can get your work done.
A bunch of people asked me what I thought about it, and I said, “It’s good advice for the rich and famous.”
Ian Bogost explains it nicely, here:
[Y]ou have to say ‘yes’ for a long while before you can earn the right to say ‘no.’ Even then, you usually can’t say ‘no’ at whim. By the time you can say ‘no’ indiscriminately, then you’re already so super-privileged that being able to say ‘no’ is not a prerequisite of success, but a result of it.
There was a little index card in the back of Steal Like An Artist that didn’t make it into the book that sums up my own point of view: “Be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.”