Why the World Needs the Makers to Say No Boldly

shop the yard

I read an essay last week that was written in 2009. It’s called Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule written by Paul Graham and it’s my new battle cry. All creatives need to read this. All people who work with creatives need to read this. Everyone. Read this.

Basically, the author talks about the difference between Makers (creatives, but in his case he’s talking about programmers ) and Bosses (or anyone who works in hourly increments) and focuses on how meetings cost creatives more because it’s an interruption in their flow. I’d like to go further than just meetings–anything that is an outward demand for attention can cost a creative more when they are in the midst of their work…

“For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.”

I read it a few times, told my sister about it, then had Chad read it so that he could finally understand why when I’m deep in my work, a normal interruption like a scheduled meeting or a phone call can put me in a funk and ruin me. Even something as small as a text message buzzing through on vibrate (that’s my fault because that means I accidentally have my phone close by and I don’t have the discipline not to read it right then) but if it happens it messes with me because it stops the flow of creativity.

canvas via naptime diaries

I took the week off  last week, something I had to make happen especially after my book release at the end of April. Since I didn’t have the money to go on a beach vacation, I allowed myself to do whatever I wanted for the entire week. I pictured myself at the movies every day, eating chocolate ice cream for every meal. That’s not what I ended up wanting to do.

view from our yard

I didn’t crack my email open for a full seven days. I think that’s a record for me for at least SEVEN years. I had one urgent thing pop up and guess what, they found me anyway! I LOVED my staycation, I read parts of 8 or 10 different books, took 3 naps on three different days, listened to podcasts, took a ton of notes, went thrifting/antiquing three times, once alone, once with my mom and once with Chad.

I made dinner most nights because I wanted to–the other nights Chad cooked or we went out, only washed my hair once and even got up at 4:39 one morning.

I had the urge to work on blog stuff and future planning for Nesting Place and I let myself do that because this staycation was about only doing things that were life-giving to me. And this online space is life-giving in so many ways.

instagram, view from our driveway

My biggest take away, was that I realized how much I LOVE my work. I worked here at Nesting Place for a few years without any income, and if it all stopped, I’d keep doing this (only I wouldn’t be able to devote as much time because I’d be selling furniture or flowers or baking cookies on the side to help with our income).

I also realized how much I’ve allowed some parts of this online world to interrupt my days, boss me around, and steal my joy and creativity. Email is the biggest culprit but there are others–usually the other come about via email. I get a lot of email but it’s still my problem to deal with and I’m the kind of person who hates having a list of things unchecked or something big looming in my inbox so in the past my default has been to check it many times a day so I can respond and get it off my list. BAD IDEA. I have to stop that.


My addiction to checking email has caused me to be less creative, I’m 100% sure of it.

Here’s what Tim Ferris says about just checking your inbox real quick :

“I know from experience that any problem found in the inbox will linger on the brain for hours or days after you shut-down the computer, rendering “free time” useless with preoccupation. It’s the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation nor productivity. Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between.”

I thought a lot about my work and my personality and here’s what I considered, it’s a truthful list of what is and isn’t life-giving for me right now, it doesn’t mean I’m only doing the good and not doing the bad, it’s a tool to help me work smarter…

Parts of my work that are life-giving:

  • creative planning (funnest thing ever!)
  • writing posts when I feel I have something worth saying (I’ve learned not to hit publish unless it’s worth someone spending their time to read, I really don’t ever want to waste my time or yours)
  • thinking about future gatherings here at the barn (ahhhh!! I cannot wait!)
  • considering blog mentoring and what that means (this makes me nervous in a good way)
  • instagram (my favorite social media!)
  • making dinner (unless it’s 4:30 and our fridge is empty)
  • waking up at 4:40 and writing (yes I am an insane person)
  • cleaning my house (on my own terms, again with the insanity)
  • doing projects in our home (duh)
  • learning more about business, blogging, mentoring, creativity, intentionality (I love reading books and blogs and learning from smart people, I consider it part of my job, to keep learning how to do this well)

Parts of my work that are dreaded, burdensome, and creativity killers:

  • EMAIL (satan)
  • facebook (spawn of satan)
  • texting (I know, I’m a crazy person, I have no idea what is wrong with me)
  • phone messages (I solved that long ago and keep my inbox full so that I don’t have a bunch of to-dos in my messages any more, guess what, no one has died, people who know me and really need me, text me)
  • scheduling phone & TV interviews for my book (or over the past 18 months just any assignment that would pop up that needed to be done, make a webpage, a video, write a bio, back cover, edit stuff, write the book :)–it’s all great stuff and comes with the territory–which is great, I have a book! I just didn’t realize what it would cost me as a creative. I don’t mind the work itself  it’s the planning, anticipating and wrecking up of my day as a MAKER that cause these extra things to take over. My day is almost shot when I have to do this stuff and FINALLY I understand why after reading this article.

I’m not saying Makers should never take part in the things that are the creativity killers for them, that’s impossible. We have to do them intentionally.


If my MAIN work is as a Maker — a content creator, a DIYer, a planner, creative, deep thinker, observer, learner, slow living wife, mom, sister, friend and creative home blogger I have no choice but to protect myself as much as possible from the creativity killers. Otherwise I’ll do every interview, promptly answer all my emails every day forever, and never have another blog post or painted wall or fantastic idea again in my life. Is that what I want?

It’s becoming clearer every day that the price I pay for trying to attend to even just all the good things is my joy and creativity. Everything cannot be done. Or addressed. Or even acknowledged. This is a new thing from me as a person. It’s crept up slowly but now it slapped me in the face.

And more and more of us are feeling that way.

Just being a part of this wonderful online world can lead to lots of distraction.

And SO many good and wonderful things.

Too many for any one person.

We have to choose.


I’ve learned that I am the ONLY person who will protect my own creativity and livelihood. I am the only one who will protect this community at Nesting Place. I will fiercely watch over this place and I’m sure I’ll do it all wrong sometime but this space is worth it. The very thing that makes me so good at my job is the very thing that makes me a weirdo in the real world. My apologies to all humans that have to deal with me for anything other than finding encouragement in your home, because that’s my one sweet spot. I’m the worst at the rest of this stuff. I’m trying to learn balance and be true to myself and my giftings.

I’m learning what it means to be intentional with both my life-givers and creativity-killers. I don’t have a lot of answers but I no longer see the personality and scheduling ability of a Maker as a weakness.

Here’s to the saying of the NO from Makers everywhere in order to protect our art.

May you do so boldly.

makers, say no boldly

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  1. Thank you for sharing. I am trying desperately to build a creative business while working as a manager for a tech company. I get so frustrated with myself because I can’t switch to creative mode after a day of rushing from one thing to another. Weekends without distractions are my salvation. Reading this I finally get why! Now I can be more conscious with my time and schedule. THANKS YOU!!

  2. One of my favorite posts ever. My Husband is on board with this – he completely understands that if I am in the middle of writing a post and get interrupted it throws off my entire groove. It’s just unavoidable sometimes, especially as a Mom of three, but it helps that he gets it and works super hard to make sure I have those uninterrupted time.
    Love this.

  3. So sorry to add a trivial request to such a great post. I am in love with one of the pictures…Where did you get the Psalm 103 picture? Thank you for being such an inspiration to those of us trying to make our homes our own little nest. :)

  4. Oh you precious dear. Thank you for these words! A helpful hand in this encouraging conversation may be Fr. Richard Rohr, who has been of tremendous help (via an email subscription) in the growing and leaning toward my own gifts. Email is a bugger, oh yes!, I rally with you against it, but Rohr’s emails only redeem our painstaking turning toward that buggersome inbox. They are daily meditations, not daily to-do’s. And they come very early in the morning, before others are yet hunting us with their own emails and agendas. If you’re interested, you can register here: https://cac.org/richard-rohr

    Thank you for sharing with us your own growing into yourself!

  5. Wow, did I need to read this! Thank you so much for this post. I’m the creative arts coordinator at our church where my husband and I are also pastors. I’m also a newby blogger for a ministry that we’ve started on the side and I am SO passionate about it, but its been difficult trying to carve out time to work on the blog with all the “necessary” things of life demanding my attention. Thanks again for being authentic and sharing this insight. AND…if you ever do decide to do blog mentoring…sign me up! :)

  6. Beautiful post. Love the paragraph on “everything cannot be done.” Well said:)

    Would you be able to tell me where you found the gorgeous Ephesians 3 print? Is it something I can order or is it a one-of-a-kind? I LOVE that verse…and the painting around it is stunning! Hoping I can get a copy of that somewhere:):):)

    Thanks for always encouraging us wherever we are!

  7. Thank you, thank you! Your insights are just one of the reasons that I read your blog faithfully. You’ve identified that nagging in the back of the mind of “stuff” to do. Can I just tell you that retirement is one of the best things for a Maker? I give myself permission all the time to do what I want to do.

  8. Loved this post and resonated with much of it. Now I know why I hate meetings even though I love every single person that will be attending them. God bless you in your endeavor to use the gifts He has given you for His glory and your joy.

  9. Thank you for this post, and the article! I am a maker (which I knew in a sense), but now knowing a little more of the reason for my distraction when I get pulled in any number of directions helps tremendously!

    I’m glad you enjoyed your time off and can’t wait to hear what you are up to next! :)

  10. Thank you for sharing this…it was much needed TODAY! Going to read the book and learn more as I thought it was a problem I had not knowing that it’s how I’m naturally “bent”.

  11. Tracey Cross says

    Hello from Australia. Your “sweet spot” has changed me, my life — and my home of course. My favouritest blog ever – all others pale – thank you for your honesty and being so real – it just gets me thinking every time . Loving reading your book and those pictures – like having a little holiday each time I sit down to read. Thank you again. Tracey

  12. A great post thank you. I’ve not been able to use my creativity over the last year due to having 3 surgical procedures on my hands & 1 to go grrr lol but this has given me time to find some great ideas & inspiration on the Internet your lovely website included. Reading your post has made me understand/realise hit the nail on the head, as to why I’ve sooo often been (at 54yrs old lol) “in the middle”, I’ve been there today! I’ve needed to do a huge boring chore but wanted to potter in the garden as it’s a beautiful day here in Surrey England woo get us lol, but achieved neither! Because I didn’t “Focus” on the necessary.. This has put a spring in my step X

  13. This is interesting to me. I need to read the whole article, but I suppose the thing that makes me curious is what qualifies as a “maker.” I like to build things, and I write blog posts (not as many as you do!), and of course I have a lot of projects at work. And I get severely annoyed by anything that interrupts what I want to be doing right at the moment. (God forbid I have a project that takes several hours – or several days – and I have to stop it in the middle to start a DIFFERENT project. If I have two multi-day projects open at once and both have to be interrupted, I get extremely upset.) My short-term memory is shot, so getting back up to speed on a project I have set aside can be time-consuming (therefore, I make myself careful notes so I can resume without too much redundant work), and some of my home projects require significant ramp-up time (changing clothes, getting out tools and supplies, tons of cleanup at the end) or benefit from ongoing attention (knocking out two or three coats of paint in quick succession so I don’t have to wash all my things repeatedly). Then, of course, there are some that would benefit from eight uninterrupted hours only if I were Superman – trying to hang sheet rock for eight hours would cause me to collapse from exhaustion, I’m afraid, so 2-4 hours is plenty.

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, other than the purely logistical objections (not wanting to wash brushes twice, for example), as far as I can see, all of my objection to interrupting my work is emotional. As soon as I stop being angry that I have to switch projects and start getting into the new one, I’m fine; and after five minutes of grumpiness, I return to the old one without trouble. If my husband interrupts me in the middle of a blog post, I will be displeased, but once I decide to set it aside I can pay attention to something else, and then I can get back into it when I have time again (sometimes even with a fresh perspective on how to phrase something). And I can handle a one-minute interruption without losing my train of thought (which my DH cannot do – he is either ignoring the interruption or can’t get back to what he was doing before. Perhaps he is a “maker” for these purposes). I actually enjoy having a series of interlocking projects (when I’ve planned the day that way) – I’ll wash the dishes while I’m cooking while I’m baking while I’m doing laundry and be happy as a clam.

    So I think I need to read this whole essay, because according to the explanation you’ve provided, I doubt I qualify as a “maker.” But I do make stuff. And I don’t manage anybody.

  14. Love Love Love this post!

  15. This said in words what my brain and body have felt for years but couldn’t explain!!!!! Thank you!

  16. OH! My goodness. This doesn’t just speak to me, it screams. This is me. I suddenly make sense to myself. Thank you, M. Seriously, I’m going to absorb this one for quite a while and let it change me. For the better.

  17. Yes! I think that’s all I can say! Yes! Things clicked, so encouraging! Yes!

  18. Oh sister! Yes Fb is the spawn of Satan! I love creativity and I love people. I love seeing their children, and cheering on their accomplishments but all this comes with a cost…my time to create.

    Thank you for sharing this post (mmmmwwwwaaah) …turning off FB for a few days.

  19. Thank you for this wonderful post.

    “It’s becoming clearer every day that the price I pay for trying to attend to even just all the good things is my joy and creativity. Everything cannot be done. Or addressed. Or even acknowledged. This is a new thing from me as a person. It’s crept up slowly but now it slapped me in the face.”

    This means so much to me. I quit my teaching job a few weeks ago. I LOVED it but I didn’t love what it made me. I have two young children who were getting short-changed and a ton of stress and sleepless nights of me trying to get all the other things done. I had very little time to be creative which is something I need. It is always helpful to hear that others are feeling the same way that you are.

  20. and this is exactly why I stopped blogging. I know there is a way to do it without being a slave to the comment game and the email checking and the photo editing, but it just wasn’t working for me, so I gave it up. Now I am creative in different places and that has helped me a lot. Great post.

  21. This. Is. My. World. This is the last 9 months (or my entire adult life if I’m being truthful). I just finished my two weeks today at a job the Lord told me with fiery red flags not to take. My disobedience reaped a schedule that would crowd out my serve, crowd out my voice, crowd out my creativity, and crowd out the joy of my life- my family.

    I am a maker. Thank you for pouring into me.

  22. Superb post!! And I completely agree, and well I am guilty too- emails, Fb, Tv and all the distractions! I am bookmarking this post for a reminder which I may need time and again! Thank you for this! Love

  23. i just love this. can you write a book on it please? I’m trying to figure out how to get the stuff done that I don’t want to do so that I can actually do the stuff I love to do, which gives me life and makes me happy. thanks for your perspective. lately, what’s been working for me is focusing on my stuff, the art I love to create, and not run around the internet, comparing myself, wishing I had her style or her talent. it’s working! i enjoy creating so much more.

  24. Words I needed to hear. Validation. Thank you!

  25. Thanks for sharing this. I knew I wanted to take a social media/blogging break for the summer. I like how during your break you did only things that gave you life, which gave you permission to do work you loved.

  26. This really resonates with me. Thank you!!

  27. Carolyn S says

    It all comes down to priorities. . . something I saw often to myself. Great power in this post!

  28. We just might be the SAME person with quite similar lists. ;-)
    keep your head up and say no. lots of that going on around here these days. love to you friend!

  29. I just read that essay and it was SO interesting! I can totally relate, being in a more “maker “job, but working at a “manager” type company. It’s definitely a tough balance but I feel like if nothing else it just helps to KNOW all this!

  30. oh my. I’m a maker. And trying to read this article (your blog posts are life giving for me) while my 3 year old and 6 year old shoot balloons at me. I really want an hour of quiet writing, but these two (with 15 and 12 summers left) are maniacs!

    I’ll have to come back and read later.

  31. This made me just about burst into tears with the feeling of being “understood”. I need to print this off and instead of doing the creativity killers first (obsessive desire to have an empty inbox, as if that is at least ONE thing done) I will reread this and start with the most important first. God should never be on my “to do” list for example

  32. Genius post. Brilliant writing (as usual). Making me think about making my list for me and my business!! :) and ps. Please start blog mentoring!!!!! :)

  33. Thanks for putting into words what I’ve been feeling but unable to identify. I’ve been a maker since before I knew what one was and I’m only recently discovering that sometimes something’s gotta give…and a well said “no” can be the key. Living with intention is my daily goal sometimes, I’m more successful than others. Hugs, Kimberly

  34. I was reading your “what I learned in 2014 post” and ended up here. I don’t really read any blog faithfully, however; if I need some encouragement or inspiration I’ll visit here or ann voskamp’s blog. After reading a couple of your links from 2014 post, I realized why I’m drawn back to your help: as a fellow maker I tend to struggle with becoming consumed in a task and regretting it later. I enjoy being a creative, but don’t always use my talents to bless my family or others. So, what’s rare about your blog is that Your Maker has taught you to create purposefully. Your blessing your family with income, creating a beautiful home from the inside out, which is the only way something is every really beautiful, and pointing those needing inspiration or encouragement to the greatest Creative One. THANK YOU!

  35. I know I’m late to this party, but I just came across this post now, and man, did it just click for me. The most frustrating thing is when the people in your life aren’t on the maker schedule with you and don’t understand how you operate. It can make you feel like perhaps your work isn’t as worthwhile as the other “more real” work… even though I know that isn’t true.

  36. Myquillin!!! This is quite possibly the most revolutionary, life-altering post I’ve ever encountered! In point of fact, I have never even posted a comment on someone’s blog before, but I just had to write and say thank you for your words- they were a balm to my trampled artist soul! I have been wondering why I constantly feel like I’m caught in a pinball machine, bouncing around from one busy thing to the next, exhausting myself, and then always feeling despondent over the fact that I never actually got around to all the MAKER stuff, which is my joy and strength. I read the link to the article you posted by Paul Graham and would ditto what you said: everyone who is a creative needs to read this and apply it to their life. As a creative who is just starting my own website offering advice to families on how to foster art and creativity in their children and homes, (Visit my site and you will see a VERY embryonic blog with ZERO content right now!) this post and your encouraging words are pinging my radar at EXACTLY the right time. Henceforth and forevermore I hereby will do my best to abide by a MAKER’s schedule. Amen! PS I really enjoyed your Instavaluable course!!

  37. Wow. Pondering this. Because I’m a Maker, and interruptions are JUST as you described for me here in my home. I look at the calendar & see just 1 event/day, day after day, and I unravel inside, because my creative energy is all consumed in the break up of hours- the going/doing/events/getting the kids ready/etc. While I crave those long uninterrupted spaces of time to dive in & CREATE. Organize. Paint. Beautify. Tackle. Dream. Write. Plan. Accomplish. To trust the Lord for a Godly balance, and Godly responses for those events that must be inevitable. Many of those interruptions end up being a blessing, when I first viewed them as a curse… So, while I’m completely relating to feeling this way, still trying to find a balance. And still trying to get those with whom I live (all 9 of them) to understand how wife/mom ticks. How God made me tick! And why my alone creative times are not only a good thing for me, but for those I seek to love… Good stuff.

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