All too often, during pilot season especially, we get caught up in the whirlwind of possibilities. After all, there is nothing more seductive than the hope of landing that meaty role that will bring us the Big Break. Working at the business of acting becomes our full-time job, rather than working at acting itself. We self-tape, we take accent courses and start jogging/lifting/yoga-ing. We buy new make-up and get our haircut and drop shifts at work to get to auditions and save up for LA and network and excitedly indulge in the fantasy of our Big Break. But “Break” is used here in both its meanings, because unfortunately, it is just after a busy period of working at the preproduction of landing that gig that the dreaded burnout hits us. Pilot season, or any other high season of opportunity, can leave us as broken as post vacation depression. The giddiness of the prospect of work often gets to our head more than the actual experience of work, and we get obsessed with busying ourselves in the industry.
As a challenge to your inner artist, try to make this time of year a calm one. Maintain yourself as though it were a professional necessity, and avoid the lure of busy-ness to favour the reality of productivity. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take that workshop – just ask yourself if you are taking it because it sounds good to say that you are taking it when asked “What are you up to these days?” or whether it will truly help you grow in your craft. If you wouldn’t get your hair drastically transformed in August, maybe don’t transition to a pixie cut in January. Stick with what you know works for you, or if you truly do want to strike out and give something out of the ordinary a shot, have a little look into your heart first.
Amy Poehler said it best – “Treat your career like a bad boyfriend.” It won’t call you when you need it, it’ll only call when it needs you. Try not to give it the satisfaction of changing who you are to try make it happy, because it won’t notice your nice haircut or your passionate dedication. Do these things for you and not for whatever your version of Hollywood is. Self care is vital at these times of emotional highs and lows, and it can be tempting to dive in all at once. But just like the lecture we get annually about New Year’s Resolutions, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Try as hard as you can not to compete by measuring how busy you are, how tired you are, or how much coffee you’ve been drinking, and remember the difference between working as an actor, and working at working as an actor. Balance is the key, and mindfulness is also the key, and before you know it, you have a whole set of keys on your keyring and you can unlock any doors that present themselves when the time comes.