I'm well beyond the point in my career where I'll take whatever comes. I'm to the point, in fact, where I won't take a gig if it isn't ideal.

Here's my top criteria for even talking to a client about a gig:

  • It has to appeal to me
  • The pay has to be ideal
  • The job can't suck up most of my time
  • The client has to be respectful

There are other factors too, such as a gig that challenges me in a good way or a new area of concentration I've been wanting to try. Each opportunity that comes along has its own set of requirements, and they have to mesh with what I'm okay with.

Yet there I was recently, having been shoved into a conversation about a job I didn't want, have turned down twice, and will not be talked into. The guy is nice, but nice doesn't make the gig any less appealing. I've told him in email -- twice -- that not only am I not interested, but I don't think I'm going to fit the bill.

I cancelled a call I didn't want in the first place and told him -- one last time -- that this just wasn't going to work. I know he was under the gun as he'd lost someone he relied on heavily (full-time work beckoned). Not my fire, not my emergency.

It brings up a good point about writers and our resolve. We see each client as a person, yet when it comes to negotiations, we need to be turning that side of our brains off. Emotion has no place in negotiations, nor does it have any place in decision-making other than the criteria I listed above (I have to love it). Yet we cave unnecessarily. We give in because a friend asked, a client who's sweet is in need, or we reason that it can't be all that bad. We turn off our instincts long enough to screw up and resent ourselves for it.

So how many times has this happened to you? When was your A-ha moment, that point in your career where you stopped letting emotion rule? How often does it come up these days, and how do you handle it?

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