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  • Writer's pictureClare Lopez

AN ACTOR'S GUIDE TO WEATHERING THE STORM

Updated: Apr 8

How do we as storytellers navigate those times when we are no longer able to be creative because we are too busy trying to survive? When the industry becomes unbearably slow and we are struggling to make ends meet. In short: how do we weather the storm?

Right now we are all experiencing a collective slowdown in the industry. And while the industry will always be unpredictable and ever changing, right now feels like something different. It's our first time in history seeing the spring season in a post pandemic, post double strike, pending IATSE strike world. We've read the Deadline Article. We are more aware than ever how challenging and hard this season is, and will continue to be. So what can we do about any of it? It's hard not to let the panic set in - to let all our choices from here on out be driven by scarcity and fear. But I'd like to offer something different.

In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me.” ― Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way

BE GENTLE & REPLENISH: Feed your basic needs first.

 

The only thing worse than feeling the crushing pressure of depression - is pretending it's not there. So if we are going to face some difficult emotional spaces, the best thing we can do is acknowledge it. Don't judge yourself for not handling things better- just allow yourself to feel. Sit with where you are, and go do something that reminds you that you are worthy. Stay gentle with yourself as you navigate times of scarcity or fear.

 

It is hard to be inspired to make art when we are struggling to make ends meet. (See Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) It is not our job to make art when we don't know how we are going to pay the rent.  We need to look inward and take stock of where we are, and how we are doing. (See Mental Health Status Check). Take that time to really listen to ourselves. Attend to your basic needs. Deal with what is most pressing. Before you try to do something creative, just fill your cup. Replenish, heal, rest.

“You are loved. Massively. Ferociously. Unconditionally. The Universe is totally freaking out about how awesome you are. It’s got you wrapped in a warm gorilla hug of adoration. It wants to give you everything you desire. It wants you to be happy. It wants you to see what it sees in you.”― Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

CELEBRATE THE WIN

 

I know it’s hard to see ourselves winning at much of anything these days. But the truth is, we often overlook so many achievements because we don't think they are worthy of celebrating. But we get to define what winning is for ourselves. A win can be any time we take the risk to put ourselves out there when we could have chosen not to. It’s any time choose to show up for ourselves rather than for someone else's expectation of us.

 

We can only win at what we can control: Our attitudes. Our responses. Our choices.

We can’t control our bookings. We can’t control our outcomes. Can we be grateful for a booking? You betcha! You can totally celebrate a booking, but don't lose perspective . Seasons of Booking, like everything else in this industry, are temporary and transitory. And you don't have to latch on to those elusive bookings as a measure of your worth.

 

The good news is: if a booking isn’t a win then the absence of booking is not a loss. Of course it's natural to feel disappointed and disheartened. You are allowed to feel your feelings. But don't let them for a second make you doubt your worthiness. Because like busy seasons, slow seasons are temporary. And somewhere, future you won’t even remember what auditions you didn't book. You will remember how hard you worked, and you will have discovered a resilience you never knew you had.

 

So what is a win? For some of us, it could be as simple as putting on pants. It could be waking up before 10:00 am. It might be making some tea and not to look at your phone for an entire day. A win might be choosing to turn down an audition because you really needed to get some rest. Even the smallest victory is meaningful, and worthy of celebrating. You are allowed to revel in the joy you feel each time you show up for yourself. When you recognize your alignment is what matters most, you will see that your enough-ness is an unshakable force that can never be destroyed. 

“Recognizing that people's reactions don't belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you've created, terrific. If people ignore what you've created, too bad.... And what if people absolutely hate what you've created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest - as politely as you possibly can - that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

BE CHILDLIKE: EMBRACE PLAYFUL WONDERMENT.

 

When we are born and start our journey out in the world, we immediately engage with our environment through play. Everything is a game. Everything is an opportunity to imagine. A cardboard box is a spaceship. A towel is a cape. Our mashed potatoes, a fortress to keep out the evil peas. As we get older, we are told that unless something makes us money--- it’s not worth doing. We feel that unless we are flawless at a skill, we shouldn't even bother trying. Perfectionism, at its worst, cripples us from ever being able to do anything. And we forget to play. And we simply stop trying. We stop exploring, and we forget how to have fun. What a colossal loss! It's entirely counterintuitive to how skill development works. We can only get better by choosing to practice. And the reality is, we won't necessarily have anyone in our corner encouraging us to keep at it. As much as we may look for it - there isn't always going to be someone giving you permission to try. But the reality is: You don’t need permission to be creative.

When you recall your own childlike wonderment-- when you engage in play for the sake of its own joy-- the only question you need to ask is “What excites me?” And then gleefully go chase that puppy around.

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

When you are ready. When you feel inspired. Bring your whole creative self and PLAY. Feel free to dig into your new routine. Let yourself get inspired to write or paint or sing or do what moves you. Use your creative momentum to become productive, when it excites you to do so. Manage all the things you’ve been putting off. Deep clean the house. Organize your 2023 receipts. Make that website or fix up your cover letter. Edit your screenplay or create something entirely new. And if at any point you feel yourself slipping into the old pitfalls of burn out... If you catch yourself reverting to those tired habits of doing something out of obligation, or the need of external validation-- Pause. Go back. Return to step one and Be Gentle.


As Jen Sincero says, "What you choose to focus on becomes your reality."





 

RESOURCES: to doing this inner work and feeding your creative self:

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