Thursday, March 28, 2013

New line of work?

A few days ago, I had Thai food with a friend.  My fortune: You are soon going to change your present line of work.

Interesting timing, because recently I've been seriously considering just that.  Not a complete change, like giving up performing to return to corporate America, but a definite change of focus involving dropping one longtime pursuit and adding something new and different.  Should I?  Yes.  No.  Yes?

Change is scary.  Instead of putting ourselves out there, sometimes we stay in jobs, relationships or other situations we don't love.  Because, as they say, "Better the devil you know."  Taking risks can be uncomfortable and exciting at the same time.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained...but also perhaps, nothing failed.  

Change can be a lot of work.  You've become used to pursuing or doing one thing, and now need to create material you're not sure how to create or even what it should consist of. Then you need to research markets and industry professionals, who's already successful in that field, create proposals and materials, submit them...and hope your new project is well-received.  And that it'll eventually produce some income.

Change is even more difficult on your own. I'm fortunate to have friends who'll share information and a supportive advisor to run ideas and content by.  I need to believe I'm moving in the right direction, but validation and critiques are very helpful.    

Change can open new doors.

Time will tell. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Feeling special

What makes you feel special?  Do you just know that you are?  Does it take an accomplishment like getting a promotion, sealing a big deal, winning an award?  Compliments or extra attention from someone you respect?  An unexpected gift, such as flowers?  Treating yourself to a mani/pedi or massage? 

Not comparing yourself to others, living with gratitude, taking physical, financial and emotional responsibility for your feelings rather than relying on others to shore you up are examples of advice offered in articles and self-help books.  Even so, at times it's rewarding to let others know via words and deeds that they're special to you.  It's nice to receive external validation.

But as an actor, author and resident of a big city, sometimes it's easy to feel like a number, not a person. For example, when you're crammed amidst fellow phone-tapping, huge backpack wielding passengers on public transportation.  When you actually are a number: at a print looksee where they're calling in different types.  You stop by a photographer's studio any time during a designated period, hold a dry erase board with your number (and name) and smile for a few pictures that take less than a minute. 

The other day I was #210, and there were several hours to go.  Or course I'm glad for the opportunity.  Better odds than the lottery.  If you're not in it, you can't win it. There's a slim chance if you don't get this project, you may be called in for another.  Etc.

When industry professionals say they'll get back to you within a certain time but don't, even after you follow up as requested. An editor requested one of my manuscripts last April. And said in early January 2013 that I'd hear "very soon."

Or I go to an audition where very specific wardrobe is required.  I need to remember the unique abilities I bring to the table when I see a room full of similarly aged women dressed just like me.  For some projects, selections may be based on physical characteristics alone.  "I need a tall go with the husband I already picked." "I need someone older, younger, fatter, thinner, less attractive, more attractive..." 

On to the next opportunity.  Because pursuing your dreams, not giving up, is special.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

People who need people...

...are they the luckiest in the world, as the song says?  Is self-sufficiency overrated? 

Remember when you were a kid...and your mom or babysitter tried to help you tie your shoelaces, but you said, “I can do it myself!”  The urge to be independent, to not rely on anyone else, can be strong.  We don’t want to feel needy, weak or incapable.

But many say asking for help (as opposed to a handout or having someone complete whatever task for you) makes you stronger.  If truthful assistance encourages you to achieve more, and makes the work more enjoyable, why go it alone all the time?

A friend who’s a NYT and USA Today bestselling novelist is creating a workshop about her success being a team effort.  She acknowledges that she wouldn’t be where she is today if not for her editor, agent, virtual assistant, and her critique partners--me and a fellow writer.  She sends her works in progress to us before they go to her industry professionals.  We give  honest feedback and suggest changes.
In award acceptance speeches, recipients often thank their agents or managers, fellow cast members and crew, spouses and family.  They may thank the person/people who connected them to the opportunity that led to the award. 

For example, when I won my Golden Heart® award in 2011 and gave a short speech in front of around 1,500 authors and industry professionals, I thanked the author who’d suggested I write that kind of manuscript, friends in my writing organization, and those who'd encouraged me in person or via phone/emails.  Support can be a key element of success.

When I had a “real job,” colleagues and I often tossed ideas around in the office or asked each other’s opinions about this or that element of a presentation or how to handle a situation.  We all learned and benefitted from the process.

The feelancer often works alone, which at times can be, well, lonely.  It can be a challenge to motivate yourself when your deadline is far off or is self-determined.  I sometimes work with a neighbor, other writers or colleagues so we all get more done.  Going to a coffee shop myself is a nice change of environment, but teaming with a colleague helps us both stay focused, and it's helpful to have someone to run things by.
It's nice and helpful to have others' support, but we need self-discipline the rest of the time.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A watched pot...

A frustrating yet exciting aspect of being a feelancer is that you never know when the phone is going to ring or when an email will pop up inquiring about or offering work. It's frustrating when a day or days go by with radio silence. It's exciting when you get an opportunity--or opportunities--to audition or submit information. But after you hit send, you have to let each one go until actual work is offered.  Wasting energy and time wondering if that opportunity will come to fruition or counting chickens hinders productivity.

No matter how many irons we put in the fire, we can't predict when or if returning or new clients or talent agent(s) will contact us, or if we'll be fortunate enough to get referrals from colleagues or clients, or if someone will find us via our websites or previous work.  We can't know when an ongoing project will end, if projects that are already running will earn additional usage fees/residuals, or if a spot I already did will be recut into another.  I woke up today to find my first international inquiry via my website about possible ongoing work.  :-)

At least when I was gainfully employed,  there'd be work on my plate every day, either standing appointments, previously scheduled training sessions or seminars, contract packages to put together, data to gather, things to discuss with local or home office colleagues, attending company meetings or learning about new products and features.  Sometimes, being in corporate sales, marketing and training, I did have to seek work out.  But my clients were provided to me, and since they already had my product and their firms encouraged them to learn how to use it efficiently, most people were predisposed to meet with me.  So filling my day was fairly easy.

Now, if there are no incoming items to follow up on, no auditions, sessions or shoots to go to, it's incumbent on me to locate and research prospects.  I'm my own salesperson, marketer, and product.  During a slow week, keeping up momentum can be a challenge.  As can trusting that more auditions and work are on the way.