"No" Man or "Yes" Man, Which are you?

by Lisa Abeyta

August 2009


My family has a friend that we affectionately call the No Man.  Throw an idea out there, and he will put up at least five roadblocks.  Suggest solutions, and he will find more roadblocks.  He works very hard to find a reason to say no.

As writers, we need to ask whether we are No Men.  Do we spend our energy, creativity, and intellect finding excuses to not try something new, or do we believe that almost anything is possible if only we can find the right path?

Here is a short quiz to help you discover whether you are a Yes Man or No Man.

". . . this might be a real opportunity to get published." 

1. You are at a dinner party when you meet an interesting gentleman with a colorful history who tells you that he has thought about writing his own life’s story.  You:

A: nod your head politely and pretend to get a phone call.  The last thing you want to do is spend your evening talking to some guy about his past.  Besides, you have dreams of being a romance novelist, and this guy isn’t going to help you get there.

B: are mildly interested in the stories he is telling, but you don’t think you’re really qualified to offer this man any help.  After all, the only thing you can claim to have published is a short essay in your college newspaper. you hadn’t really thought about partnering on a memoir, but this might be a real opportunity to get published.

C: offer to meet the gentleman later in the week for coffee to talk about opportunities to work on the project together and make a point to pick up a few how-to books on writing memoirs so that you will be ready to answer his questions.  

". . . write a short one-page query letter to five relevant non-fiction markets.”

2. You are in the middle of doing research for your novel when you run across some interesting facts about a nearby town.  You:

A: think the facts are interesting and wonder if you could write an article about them for a local paper, but you don’t know who to contact or how to query for an article.  You pass over the facts and continue to research information for your novel.

B: see the potential for a nonfiction article but are fearful that you are not qualified to write the piece.  You call a reporter friend and give her the tip for the story.

C: check out a copy of Writer’s Market from your library, write a short one-page query letter to five relevant non-fiction markets, and file the facts in case one of the markets accepts your query.  You continue researching for your novel and follow up on each market after the specified time, sending out the query to yet another market when you receive a rejection.

". . .you just believe in yourself a little bit more . . ."

3. .You use your Depression glass to serve tea and snacks at a luncheon.  One of your guests asks you about the history of the antique dishes. 

A: You don’t want to bore the guests and brush off the question with a one-sentence reply.  Who wants to know about old dishes anyway?

B: realize you have extensive knowledge about Depression glass and wonder if there is any way to sell someone an article about it. You talk about it but decide that there have to be others better-qualified to write an article like that and give up.

C: tell your friend and other guests about the dishes, testing their responses to the information to gauge interest to different aspects of your tale.  After your guests have left, you create a list of ten possible angles to write articles, research markets, and hone your query letter to each market.


4. You discover a classified ad announcing a job opening for a freelance writer at a new weekly publication in your area. You:

A: wish you could be a writer but don’t think it is possible since you don’t have any formal training on writing.  You are sure other more-qualified people will apply and get the job anyway.  You turn to the comics page and forget about the ad.

B: cut out the advertisement.  You mean to call and inquire, but you’re just so busy. You eventually throw out the ad when you spill coffee on it.

C: write a short email to the email address listed in the ad and send it off before you go to bed that night.You may not be the most qualified, but you’re still willing to throw your hat in the ring and see what happens.


5. You finally finish your novel and breathe a sigh of relief that your five-year project is finished.  You ask your best friend to read it.  When you receive negative feedback, you:

A: Give up. If your best friend doesn’t like it, how will you ever find an agent or publisher?

B: You feel like a knife is twisting as you read through the list of criticisms. You decide that the work is flawed and decide to start something new.

C: Read through the criticism, asking yourself after each one if it is something that you need to fix.You rework portions of the novel to fix some errors, polish the manuscript, and research literary agents.


If you answered A to most of the questions, you are a No Man and need a serious attitude adjustment.  Your unwillingness to think outside the box and try new things are holding you back as a writer.

If you answered B to most of the questions, you are on your way to becoming a Yes Man if you just believe in yourself a little bit more.  You’re willing to think about new ideas, but your fear and lack of confidence are major roadblocks.

If you answered C, you’re a Yes Man.  You not only see the potential in new ideas and opportunities, but you jump in with both feet and keep running until the next new idea.  If you haven’t yet found the success you crave as a writer, you are well on your way.

About Regular Contributor
Lisa Abeyta

Lisa Abeyta is an award-winning writer, columnist and writing teacher. Having sold hundreds of articles to national and local publications, she also provides copywriting, web-copy, and other writing services to private and corporate clients. She is active in several online writing communities, moderating forums and providing guest articles on freelance writing. Lisa also serves as a guest lecturer, speaker and teaches writing to both adults and students.