Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Introductory Offer: two blog entries in one!

Well here we are. My blog, welcome back. Can I just say right now that 2011 pretty much sucked thank you very much. Last year, all in all, more shit things happened than good. I’d really like to avoid any clich├ęs about how the New Year is good for starting new things and resetting yourself and blah blah blah. But they’re all true.

So that’s how I’m viewing the beginning of this year. Never mind that it’s already February; I feel exceptionally ready to take control of my future, many thanks to the three weeks over Christmas I spent in America with friends and family. Man I needed that.

Actors will agree with me that it’s terribly common to hold a day job while building up acting experience and waiting for an acting career to take off. Well I’m so sick of waiting around for my career to take off that I’ve realised how vital it is that I go for it on my own terms. I need to stop waiting. I currently have a stable but temporary day job and I’ve been telling myself I’d be able save up some money so I could eventually have a proper go at acting, but instead, after two months, I’m broke already. I need to prepare myself for that moment when I don’t have a day job and no guaranteed income. Considering I’ve told myself I could live off little and therefore manage to save money – and haven’t – I must admit it’s an indicator that I could be headed down the same path if I’m not careful. I’m also afraid that suddenly six months – half a YEAR – will have gone by where I’m not advancing my acting career. I can’t let that happen.

So I’ve had some luck already. I’m in a new play. That’s good! (Click here for details!) It’s handy – and I’m lucky – that it fits in with my day job. I’m very excited about it. But if I just do that play and don’t capitalise on it, I’m back in the same situation I was before. So what I will do is re-kindle all my contacts, milk my networking for all that it’s worth, and get reviewers and casting directors and producers and everyone I know to come see it. But that will take effort, and it won’t happen all by itself. I must go about networking my play to the extreme. Actors cannot wait around for the right casting director or producer to see them. They have to find that person. I have recently realised I have to make my work myself, but now this has to become more than just an occasional job. It has to be my career. And I can't wait much longer.

When I am not acting, I want to be writing.

“There is no such thing as writer’s block. All writers should allow themselves to write crap once in a while.”

That quote is based on a tweet I read recently; I don’t remember who said it and the words are not exactly what I had read, so in a way I guess you could say it is my quote, except that it’s not really and it doesn’t matter anyway. In any case, the point is still valid, as well as pertinent to me. Any writer – whether you are a blogger, author, playwright, musician, etc. – cannot be expected to create a perfect composition every time they sit down at a keyboard. (See what I did there with my words? Pertains to musicians too!) This expectation – which I know is sometimes self-imposed – causes writers to self-edit as they go, which disrupts the internal creative process. Writers, you know what I’m talking about.

This entire double-blog is a perfect example. When I first sat down to write something (a few weeks ago), I wanted to write about how 2011 wasn’t that great, and about how I have new plans for 2012, etc. But I began to do that self-editing thing as I went along: I doubted every other word I typed, went back on ideas and phrases, and struggled over words I couldn’t quite pin down. I think I ended up hitting my backspace key more than all other letters combined. I thought to myself, “Cheese and rice, I’ll never accomplish anything at this pace!”

But then I saw that quote, and, like advice you hear over and over from one friend but never actually take until you hear it from another friend in a different way, it finally sunk in. I decided to write whatever came to my head, and not to judge anything I wrote as I wrote it. I even resisted the urge to correct grammatical errors! (Those who know me understand how difficult this was for me.) After 4 pages and almost 2,000 words I stopped. And the result! … well it was mostly crap. But some of it was interesting crap! Looking over what I wrote, I see I had duologues with myself, provided self-encouragement, tried to be clever at points and then admonished myself for not being clever, and then eventually tried to determine why I haven’t posted in here since May last year.

Of course I’ve whittled it down a lot and added things since I finished, and no, I don’t pretend that it’s gold. But the result (like it or not) is a much better version than my rambling original! That’s what my head is usually like, though: a rambling, incoherent mess of ideas strung together with the most tenuous of threads. Getting my thoughts on paper is such a good way of getting them off my mind, which also allows me not only to organize them, but also to continue writing with a clear head.

I don’t proclaim to “suffer” from writer’s block, but this is a method I’m going to continue to use. From here on out I am going to utilise my 69 WPM fingers and write unrestrainedly! I will whip out the writing that unleashes my bottled anger, my hidden fears, and my unbounded joy! Or whatever. I’m not promising anything.

I strongly encourage any other aspiring writers to do the same. I know I’m not a famous author or anything, but I have seen things I’ve written produced, and the best things that you write will be the things that you write without restraint.

It’s what I’ll be doing from now on. I’ll use it when writing blogs as well as plays I’ve been working on. There are already a number of plays I’m in the process of writing, and I even have fellow actors in mind for specific roles, but the writing is currently stalled because every time I actually sit down at the keyboard, I start to self-edit. It’s time I stop doing that and pick up that writing again.

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