LABOR OF LOVE
I generally spend about three hours a day working on my acting and even more since I began writing. Then there’s marketing, updating my websites and resumes, writing, rewriting, and rewriting my rewrites.
We chose a difficult business of incessant self-promotion and it’s hard to not get caught up in it all the time. With the advent of social media, it’s in your face constantly and I tend to feel guilty if a day goes by and I didn’t spend at least an hour doing something to promote myself or my writing.
When I hop on social media, I can see that everyone else did. This business requires large amounts of your time (whatever time you have leftover from your survival job!), but it’s a constantly exciting challenge and truly a labor of love.
Whenever I get overwhelmed in my life and I feel overscheduled, overworked and just generally overstretched, without enough time to devote to my passions, all I can think is how much time is getting away from me.
The ‘what am I not doing’ feeling. When am I going to finish writing that episode? When am I going to rehearse my monologue? That scene? Start my screenplay? Take a shower for god’s sake? And above all, when do I take time for myself and not feel guilty about it?
I’ve realized that as a result of feeling this way, I’ve created a small but distinct itch of anxiety that I experience on a constant level. It’s like an IV drip of nervous energy. And it feeds the beast: the pressure to keep plugging, keep trying, keep booking, keep pushing.
LIVE YOUR LIFE
The thing is, all of the above is true. It’s our reality. This business is tough. If you don’t arm yourself with the tools to survive, you can easily crumble. Yes, it’s a huge time commitment, but it’s important to take the time that hard work requires. You’re worth it. Your dreams are worth it. Otherwise, why do we do this? We love it. It’s exhilarating! But it is also imperative that you live life outside of The Biz.
Often what you need is to stop pushing. Stop trying so hard. Just be. You know that saying that love finds you when you stop looking for it? It’s the same. Live your life! In 2006, Ernst & Young conducted a study on its employees and found that for every 10 hours of extra vacation time their employees took, their year-end performance ratings increased by 8%. Those who took frequent vacations were significantly less likely to leave the firm. So there it is: take a day and spend it doing things you love. With people you love. Once a week at least. Ride the train. Go to the park. Listen to people. You will find that from there, even though it’s not your immediate focus, your career magically grows. It is those life experiences that feed your writing. Fuel your passions. Carve out relationships and solidify stories. It allows the universe to give back to you what you’re putting into it. The stories are writing themselves all around you! I’ve developed countless characters and scenes based on people I see on the subway. Or the coffee shop. Or on dates.
When you stop amidst your anxiety and sit back and take notice, you’ll find you have a wealth of material and a rich, full life. AND you’re a happier person. Just something to keep in mind during your daily grind: Dream big. Be bold. And remember that you don’t have to waste your spirit to achieve your dreams.
Live, love, and stop and smell the roses!