Sunday, January 28, 2007

One Day at a Time

Today's questions: "How much is too much to accomplish in a given day? How much "down time" do we need?

It's barely noon on a Sunday as I write this, and I've already read the paper, worked out, edited and printed agendas for two meetings I have tomorrow, written an article about a seminar I attended, printed off and prepared to mail a copy of a 350+ page manuscript for my agent, caught up on e-mail and talked to a friend. Still on the list are: finishing another article, preparing for an online writing workshop I'm giving starting next week (with an author who has sold more than seventy books. We'll be reprising and adding to the workshop we did at a national writing conference about persistence at different stages of your career), and researching what I'll want and who can design my soon to be created acting and freelance writing Web sites. Plus laundry and a couple of other household and home organization chores.

I could choose to be distracted by pursuits such as Web surfing, TV watching, reading. I could choose to procrastinate. But then I'll just have all the more to do tomorrow.

So much of our life is spent planning for the future, both short and long term. When a friend wants to have lunch, when we're scheduling a meeting, doctor or other appointment, we whip out our calendars (mine is still a print Day-Timer) and plan around all the things we've already entered. How many times a day do you think or say, "This weekend I'm going to (fill in the blank)? Or "Next week I've got to..."

When do we live in the moment, and appreciate what we are doing here and now, instead of always looking toward what's coming next? I think many days we're so busy rushing from one scheduled event to the next we create our own stress. And we also create a false sense of urgency because there are so many things we think we HAVE to do. Don't we also have to make time to decide what we really want to do with our time?

Time is our most valuable commodity. We owe it to ourselves to do the best we can to choose and control how we use it, rather than allowing it to control us.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Worry Wart

Do you ever worry too much? I'm familiar with most of the platitudes designed to keep one from worrying: "don't worry about things you cannot change," "do the best you can, it's all anyone can do," etc.

But sometimes, niggling thoughts burrow into your mind and stay there. If they dig deep enough, they can distract your concentration from the tasks at hand. My worry of the moment has to do with possible (perhaps not probable) scheduling conflicts from auditions I have today and tomorrow and the vagaries of how to prepare for events that might or might not arise. What is "the right thing?"

Who said, "When it rains, it pours?"

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The TelePrompTer

Have you ever used a TelePrompTer, the thing that displays scripts so that news anchors can read them while looking into the TV camera? It's not as easy as it looks.

First of all, there's usually a person scrolling the text and trying to keep up with you (there is an automatic setting but that can be tricky). Talk too fast, and you may run out of words before the new ones scroll into view. Talk too slow, or take too long a pause, and a new sentence may appear before you can finish the one you're saying.

Second, you have to read in a smooth flow and without moving your eyeballs too much (up/down/side to side), while maintaining a pleasant expression (not looking like you're trying to read) and sounding friendly, not stiff.

Fortunately, it's a skill somewhat like riding a bike, and I learned how to do it in college.

Today I auditioned to be the co-host of a new health TV show, and had to read the introduction from a TelePrompTer. Apparently, plenty of other people in Chicago say they can use TelePrompTers, because the woman who ran the audition told me they're auditioning all week. That's showbiz.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Process Trailer

Though I've been on more than 50 movie sets, I didn't know what a process trailer was until last night, when I went to shoot my second day as a noxious cab passenger for an independent feature film. It's used to film car scenes and make it look like the driver is actually driving.

The cab was mounted on a trailerbed attached to a truck, with spotlights all around. The director and crew rode outside the taxi, on the trailer. We made our way up and down Michigan Avenue until 2:00am. The "taxi driver", my "date" and I were toasty inside the cab, leaving the crew exposed to frosty late night lake winds. As you might expect, passers-by and other cars slowed to check out our brightly lit setup.

One of the things I had to do was smoke. It took me a while to get the hang of deftly using the cigarette lighter and lighting the cigarette...the things we do for our art!