“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
I’d like to take a break this week from what has become our usual format of discussing equipment and construction to talk about perseverance.
It’s easy to get discouraged when undertaking a new project. This can apply to something as simple as hobby, or as complex as starting a career in Voice work.
The key is to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But if we take the running metaphor one step further (pun intended) we can also say that daily practice will increase your ability, until you are able to make it to the finish line.
Take time each and every day to work on your craft. Maybe an hour, or maybe just thirty minutes. Whatever you can spare. Daily practice will increase your range and the quality of your voice.
Start with warm up exercises, then go on to read and record samples of the kind of voice work you’d like to do. If you want to do commercials, find and record a commercial script. If you want to do audio books, try to record one chapter a day from your favorite book.
Continue reading and recording that same commercial, or that same chapter each day until you feel that you have mastered it. Then, move on to the next one.
For most of my life I worked for other people. Then several years ago, I had the opportunity to start my own business. Having never been self-employed before I was nervous. So I went to a friend of mine who has work for many years as an independent general contractor. I asked him “what is the secret to running your own business?”
He said, “first of all, you need to figure out how much money you need to make each day in order to stay in business. If you could make $100 a day as a supermarket cashier, but only make $80 a day as a plumber then it makes no sense to be a plumber. Figure out what your daily minimum is. Then each day make three lists: must do, should do, and can do. ‘Must do’ are the things you have to get done that day. It might take one hour, or 10 hours, but you don’t get to quit until that list has been completed. ‘should do’ are the things that it would be nice if you could accomplish, if you had the time. Typically today’s ‘should do’ items become tomorrow’s ‘must do’ list. Finally ‘can do’ are the things that could be beneficial but are not mission-critical.”
I encourage each and everyone of you to view your potential career in Voice work through the lens of these two rules. First, don’t quit your job as a waiter or waitress until you are making more doing voice work than you are as an hourly employee. That’s not to say you shouldn’t pursue a career in Voice work. Just don’t consider it your primary occupation until you have establish yourself.
Then, when you are working for yourself as a professional voice actor make those three lists each day. It will keep you on track and insure your productivity.
I know it can be frustrating. I know it might feel like the pieces are never going to come together. But they will. Believe in yourself. Stay committed. Given enough time and effort, you will achieve your goal.