In a time of inevitable uncertainty surrounding a health crisis unlike anything most of us have seen in our lifetimes, for those of us who are fortunate enough to even be able to self-isolate inside of our homes, there are still countless frustrations we are facing. As artists, we are certainly not immune to these struggles- having passions for inherently extroverted and community-based forms of work, creation, and self-expression while being stuck in our homes. It is frustrating to maintain the same level of desire to make art as any other time but seemingly have no outlet for it.
This is not unique to this crisis either- the same sort of frustration is likely to surface whenever we are at a lull in our artistic careers, have yet to have found our artistic communities, or even just find ourselves lacking inspiration. When we find ourselves at this impasse, this frustration, we ultimately have two choices: let ourselves fold inward and stay frustrated OR expand. Expand our knowledge. Expand our idea of what art creation could look like. Expand our communication.
Channel Your Inner Ravenclaw
Okay, I realize I may have lost some of you with this Harry Potter reference but stay with me here. For many of us, seeking out as much knowledge as possible about any given subject may not be our immediate instinct, so when a curveball is thrown and we are forced to adapt we may be thrown off and simply stop in our tracks.
Voice Actors in particular are facing this right now, many of whom must choose to either teach themselves how to use online tools such as Source Connect or miss out on any possible V.O. gigs. Why, however, would we wait to expand our knowledge about commonly used technology like this until we are in a position in our careers where we need to know it? Why would we not want to be constantly making ourselves as hireable and adaptable as possible?
The same can be said about any aspect of artists’ various art forms. If we have some free time and are passionate about something, would it not make sense to constantly be learning more about our art? Use this time to seek out classes, read books, and envelop yourself in the thing that makes you happy now while there is no pressure to build specific skills! Slightly altering our perspective to lower the stakes in the endeavor of building our understanding and gaining information will ease us through the most difficult hurdle: self-motivating and simply getting started. If the subject matter is what you really love doing, studying up on it should be enjoyable!
Always Be Creating
Things may be slow right now when it comes to opportunities for your art, but that doesn’t mean the creation has to slow down as well. There is so much we can be doing to create and consume art on our own, particularly with the technology we have now. Filmed Broadway shows, streaming platforms with countless films and TV shows (animated or otherwise), and all sorts of other source material are all available at our fingertips. I recently ordered 21 new play scripts online that arrived recently and while many people may not be able to afford regular purchases like this (myself included- those scripts were 100% the result of a gift certificate that the shop owners were kind and tech-savvy enough to turn into a digital certificate for me), there are a multitude of scripts out there for free to read for enjoyment, inspiration, or practice if you just take some time to research!
If the work isn’t coming to you and you don’t want to keep utilizing other people’s work, there is no better time to start creating the work for yourself. Write things. Film things. Record things. Try things out in the comfort of your own home. Everything you work on doesn’t have to be production or consumer-ready. Create for the sake of creating, even if it is never with the intention of being seen or heard by anyone else. If you keep at it, you are bound to cultivate something you are proud of showing to people.
Open Up Lines of Communication
If you’ve attended any of Steve’s live Teaching Series Voiceover Classes, you are probably already somewhat familiar with online communication platforms such as Zoom. The use of this technology does not have to be limited to pre-structured classes and work meetings. In the last few weeks, I have participated in several play readings with members of my theatre company and a few of our close friends via Zoom for the purpose of simultaneously expanding the repertoire of plays we have all read and to keep acting. It is so incredibly easy to organize these types of virtual meet-ups and I can guarantee there are other people who will be interested in making them happen with you if you reach out to friends, acquaintances, or various groups online!
Readings and practice don’t have to be the only artistic motivators for jumping on a Zoom call either. Create some online writing groups and use tools like Google Docs to work together on the same project. Perhaps offer up a writing prompt or even a small list of items that everyone must include in a scene and give everyone a time limit. See what you can create when you are collaborating with other people and keeping each other accountable! If you are feeling stuck on your own, you can bet there are others feeling the same way who could all benefit from working with you.
Expand your knowledge.
Expand your idea of what art creation could or should look like.
Expand your methods of communication and the circle of people you are communicating with.
PS: I just want to add in here that this blog is geared toward those who feel that they want to be creative in this or any other time time but have no outlet. That being said, I also want to stress that you should never feel pressure to be proactive in your creativity at the expense of your mental or emotional health. This is a frightening time for everyone so please take time to breathe and relax as well if you are able!