As an actor, creating a rich character means making choices. Not just any choices – STRONG choices. Choices that differentiate you from the 999 other people who are auditioning for the same gig. And sometimes, as you read through your 10th audition of the day for a gig you’d kill to book, you sit in your VO booth and lay down a track that is pure. unmitigated. crap. Or not crap, but you think it’s crap. Because you’re not sure if your choices are strong enough. Because you wonder if the choice takes you down the wrong path. Because, because, because…so many things.
When I catch myself spinning my wheels on an audition, I do a couple of things:
1) I step away. If I have a little time before the submission deadline, I take a break from that piece, and do something else for a little while. Sometimes you get so into the work that you start second guessing yourself.
2) I phone a friend. Or skype, text, facebook them. And I ask for a little feedback. 5 minutes to call them and read through a piece or talk through the copy and get some objective feedback and direction.
Then I take a breath and step back into the work of the audition.
The thing is – there is no wrong choice. As an actor, my job is to audition. As much as humanly possible, and to the best of my abilities, my job is to get in the booth, or in front of that camera, or on a stage – and leave everything I’ve got in the room. It’s not my job to decide who gets the job, it’s my job to make strong choices that leave an impression. After I’ve done the audition, it’s my job to let it go and move onto the next task.
This happens in life too. It happens when we’re working on a project that means a lot to us: maybe we’re writing the personal statement that we hope gets us into our dream college or grad school. Maybe we’re prepping for a presentation or pitch that could make or break our careers. Maybe we’re contemplating a life change: a breakup, a marriage, a family, a move to a faraway city – something that feels … HUGE.
The moment we catch ourselves spinning our wheels – second guessing, playing endless cycles of “what if”, and hashing and rehashing our work until everything we create sounds “stupid,” it’s time to take a step back. Take a breath, step away, phone a friend. If you can, sleep on it. Then come back to it with fresh eyes in the morning.
Ultimately, it’s not our jobs to judge whether or not something is worthy. It’s our job to tell our story, in the best way possible. It’s our job to make strong choices. And leave our best work behind. Other people will make those judgements, whether we want them to or not. And while it’s really difficult not to be married to a particular outcome, we have to detach from that too – the outcome is out of our hands. All we can do is make a strong choice, tell a compelling story…and the rest will unfold as it will.
What are you spinning your wheels on? What will you do to move forward? Let me know in the comments!