One of my favourite books and a book that I rarely leave the house without is the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it and yet every time I do, I find a new perspective, a new gem, a new ‘oh shit’ moment. The passage below feels particularly relevant to the following article:
Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
Nobody has unlimited creativity, or, they certainly don’t have unlimited high quality creativity. I am someone that is able to work and work and work and continue to produce art in many different forms without a break and although some of that work is of high value, not all of it is, something starts to suffer and that something is more often than not, me.
There’s a culture that has been created within the entertainment industry, 16 hour days, 7 day weeks, 24 hour turnarounds. It’s drilled into that you must be on the go 24/7 if you want to succeed. It’s not true.
The job itself, being on set, is strenuous at times and you certainly have to build up a stamina to be filming back to back 12 hour days – there’s no getting away from that. I’m talking more about when we’re out of work, the restlessness that comes with this, the waiting by the phone, the sense of “Am I doing enough?”
Think of anything fun in life, anything enjoyable and then imagine being forced to do it, and then imagine being forced to do it AND enjoy it.
We have a huge issue with “work”. Working hard, this concept of the harder you work the more successful you’ll be and I think, actually, it’s bullshit.
Working all the time creates stress, stress leads to anxiety and depression and neither of those are good for creativity. We need to get OUT of our heads! And a heavy workload, packed timetable and a compulsive need to work, work, work does the complete opposite!
There’s so much pressure. I remember hearing a casting director address a room of actors, she told them they must be picking up 20 scripts a week if they want to be successful.
What. The. Fuck.
Look, being able to learn lines and interpret text quickly IS important and as an actor you should be able to learn a couple of pages of script in less than 10 minutes, because it’s your job! But do it in a healthy way.
How do I do that?
Get in tune with yourself.
Meditate. Walk. Exercise. Eat nice food. Use your free time wisely. Switch off, actually switch off, no phone, no bullshit. Let your mind rest, unwind, check in with your self. Allow things to come to you naturally, organically, pick up a script because you want to pick one up and if you’re passionate about your craft you will want to, trust yourself.
Be prepared to be impulsive and spontaneous.
There is value in setting specific times to do things and routine is really good for some people but isn’t life exciting when you don’t know whats coming? Doesn’t it make you feel more alive?
Allow your creativity to flow naturally, forcing it ain’t gonna work and if you do, you might produce something alright, but alright ain’t gonna cut it is it?
A lot of people are on tight schedules, trying to make ends meet, working 40+ hours to pay rent. It’s hard and you feel guilty if you don’t spend time working on your dream, there’s a sense of hopelessness when a week goes by and you’ve done nothing to further your career, but that guilt, that self-deprecation is useless, stop that, right now. Let it be.
Allow yourself to rest. Allow yourself to enjoy life. Be clear in your mind in the direction that you want to head and allow things to happen naturally, they will happen when the times right.
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