Thursday, March 31, 2011

Turning on a dime

Last Thursday, I wrote about dealing with disappointment to encourage myself and others to keep going in the face of setbacks. My roller coaster of freelancing had stalled, then seemed to be going downhill in fits and starts.    

Friday didn’t start out too well. Finalists in two national writing contests (the RITA® for published authors, the Golden Heart® for as yet unpublished) were being announced. The list posted online of those who’d gotten the call kept growing as the morning progressed, and some categories were approaching the maximum number of finalists. People, including several friends, were sharing their excitement all over the Internet.

In the as yet unpublished contest, approximately 1,200 manuscripts are entered in 10 categories. Acquiring editors judge the final round; over the years numerous finalists have sold. To final, five judges had to score your manuscript high enough to put it in the top 10%. My chances of finaling were better than winning the lottery, but….  

My phone remained silent. Until 11:47 am, when I got the call!!!   

I’m honored and grateful for my friends' support…I received so many congratulations via email, phone and Facebook, I could barely keep up with them all.

As they say, my life had turned on a dime.  Good news on many levels keeps rolling in.  And this week has been one of my busiest ever as an actress…six auditions and two availability checks--one job was cancelled, I booked the other, also this week. Last night a client informed me about a VO job I’ll be getting today (with another one or two to follow)…

It may be difficult when the going gets rough, but find a way to keep the faith and believe in yourself.  Because you never know when your hard work and persistence will pay off in a big way. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dealing with Disappointment

Is there anyone who doesn’t face disappointments? Job seekers don’t get hired, homebuyers are denied loans, kids don’t get into their top pick schools, the guy/girl doesn’t call or do as promised. People fail to follow through, let you down or get caught in a lie or omission, so you don’t know what to believe.  Developments like these can test your trust and faith.  It’s not surprising that when I searched “handling disappointment,” many entries had religious leanings.

As a freelancer constantly putting my talents out there, some days I feel like I’m in the arcade game Whac-a-Mole…I optimistically pop up out of holes again and again only to get bashed on the head with a mallet every time. You didn’t get this or that acting gig.  I don’t want to buy/represent your book. Sorry, that big audition was canceled.

Other days, disappointments are more subtle…the phone doesn’t ring. No emails for jobs or auditions appear in my in box. It can be challenging to find the motivation and discipline to poke my head out again. Or as Fred and Ginger sang in Swing Time, to “Pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, Start all over again.”

Being an actress/writer/editor is similar to working in sales: even if you have great, useful and appropriately priced products, not every potential client will want them. The main difference is that the products are more personal.  There are no employer supplied marketing materials.  (Or base salary, paid vacation, health insurance.)

How do I take disappointments in stride and let them go? Having things to look forward to, like upcoming auditions or bookings, helps. I believe that each ‘no’ gets me closer to the next ‘yes,’ which encourages me to keep submitting. I focus on the many benefits of freelancing. I remind myself that I’m pursuing my dreams, which not everyone has the wherewithal or perspicacity to do.

How do you deal with disappointment?

3 Steps for Handling Disappointment

Handling Disappointment

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Friends Indeed

Modern technologies like social networking and e-mail make it so easy when you need a little help from or want to help out a friend…via a referral, an answer to a question, get people to attend an event, buy a book or hire you for a project. And they make it easy to reconnect or stay connected. In seconds you can message or text friends you’ve known for years and those you just added.

Remember the old days, even back in the early 90’s, when you’d have to phone everyone on your list? What about the days before answering machines…you’d have to call back if your friend didn’t pick up. The power of social networking still existed, but took a little more effort to utilize. When I was in college, I needed a long gown for a chorus concert. We usually wore black, but for some reason we were told to wear pastels. I walked the halls of my sorority house, and within 15 minutes had 10 dresses to choose from.

Some people you don’t spend time with or talk to as often as you used to, but when something brings you back in contact --from a friending on Facebook to a chance meeting at an event-- the connection and understanding are still there. You pick up right where you left off, wonder why you hadn’t communicated more frequently, and look forward to continuing your friendship.

For example, a recent FB request for information led to great responses within hours, and a couple of those sparked interesting e-conversations. And it occurred to me that someone I hadn’t talked to in more than ten years might be able to help with one of my books. Via a FB message, I got what I needed. We e-chatted and are in touch again.

The key is to enjoy and make the most of social networking without spending so much time e-chatting and commenting that it becomes a time suck keeping you from being productive. The wonders of the Internet make it far easier than it used to be to stay in touch with friends near and far. You never know when people will come into your life or how you can support each other.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Efficient & Effective Communication

In our fast-paced, multi-tasking world, in person and phone communication have taken a back seat to e-mail, texting and instant chatting. I’ve discussed this before, here, but the issue seems to be even more prevalent.

Many are so quick to respond to any incoming e-mail, text or chat notification they stop what they were working on to answer, whether they needed to or not. This leads to lost focus and wasted time and energy figuring out where you were and getting back in the zone.

It starts simply: a friend or co-worker sends a snappy or humorous note. You compose a witty reply. Before you know it, you’ve dropped everything you needed to be doing and are engaged in a lengthy stream of banter or commenting on friends’ of friends FB pages. Taking specific breaks to do this is one thing, letting the Internet or any e-communication interrupt your flow is another.

I've worked with people who'll interrupt a conversation to check a non-urgent e-communication. To me, this isn't good etiquette in a work or a social situation. If you're talking to someone, talk. The vast majority of e-mails, texts, etc. can wait until you've completed your discussion. Shouldn't the person you're with take precedence over the person in the ether? The next time you're at a bar or restaurant, notice how many are using their phones instead of enjoying the people in front of them.

Not only are many tied to their cells--not to make or receive calls but to e-mail or text, many are in such a rush that they skim over or don’t process all the info in a given e-mail, leaving the sender exasperated by the reply and maybe even unable to move forward. I try to make sure my e-mails are as clear and concise as possible, though there are those who ramble or obfuscate. As a freelancer working with a variety of clients and communication styles, I pick up the phone to speed up response time.

I think in person and phone conversations are better for building relationships. You have verbal and/or visual cues to help interpret tone and meaning. You’re talking in real words, not abbreviations and acronyms. LOL is no substitute for hearing an actual laugh. On the other hand, there are times you want something in writing, or time to compose exactly what you want to say. And on the other other hand, others take too long carefully crafting every word of every missive they send.

How much time do you spend a day on e-communication compared to doing actual work? Do you get distracted by i-chat or Facebook chat? Consider keeping track of how much time you spend on work and social interruptions, fun or not, instead of being productive for a week. More or less than you expected? How long do you spend responding to the average e-mail? Once you’re aware of how much time/energy you’re investing on unproductive habits, you can make changes to sway the balance to your favor. Too Much Texting in the Workplace

Top of Mind: Too much Emailing, Too Much Texting Makes you Stupid!

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Memory. For some, the famous song from Cats will come to mind. Others will think of computer storage and speed. And still others will wonder if they are losing theirs.

Most of us are forgetful from time to time. The other day, I’d made a tasty lunch but didn’t realize I’d left it in the fridge until I was en route. Some of us don’t recall we’ve left our keys or cell phones (I prevent that from happening by leaving things in the same place.) Some appliances, like coffee makers and irons, turn off automatically so we don’t have to worry if we’ve left them on.

Years ago I learned writing down everything I need to do was much easier than trying to keep it all in my head. Occasionally I'll open my Day-Timer (yes, I still prefer the paper to the electronic calendar, which IMO requires too much typing and I already do quite enough of that) and see things I’ve written but don’t remember until that moment.

Sometimes I think my brain is like a computer. Some info is quickly retrieved. To find other bits, my mind has to search through folders. The other day I ran into someone at an event. I thought he looked familiar, but couldn’t quite place how I knew him. He reminded me, but it took a couple of minutes until I retrieved those memories and details fell into place.

Actors need another kind of memory: the ability to quickly learn and retain copy/dialogue. This week I had a live industrial (usually means some kind of presentation at a big meeting) I was told was non-speaking. When I got there, a few of us were going to have lines. I volunteered because I’m a quick study. The director read all the lines from his phone, but I’m a visual learner. I asked if he'd email the script to my phone, which he did. We ran through the scene a few times, and the three of us were great. But not everyone is comfortable with on the spot memorization and performance.

I’ve also had the experience, as I’m sure most actors have, where I know I had it down in the car or waiting area, but somehow the pressure of being in front of auditioners sucks the script right out of my head. Actors also need to remember any choices they’ve made…words to emphasize, gestures, facial expressions, when to pause, where to look, anything the auditioners added at the last minute, etc. Getting thrown off and asking to start over (like many auditionees on American Idol) can be embarrassing.

For longer auditions, I use an ear prompter. (I record the copy onto a small tape recorder, then play it back through a newscaster-like earphone during the audition.) But if they ask me to do it slower or faster, or if they’ve changed the amount of copy, adjusting on the fly can be a nerve-wracking challenge. Ah, the joys of the voiceover audition, where you can read from the script and don't have to worry about what you look like.

How do you remember things?

A few sites on the topic:


Memory Improvement Tips