We read a lot about, “How to make it in VO,” consuming content voraciously in an effort to get a foothold in the business. Eventually, however, many voice actors will put the pieces together and develop a thriving business. Success rarely comes without a good amount of sacrifice, hence the importance of having outside interests.
Unfortunately, sometimes being the dog that caught the car comes with challenges of its own. Once a VO talent experiences some steady success, it can be a struggle to look at the studio as anything other than a little ATM machine, and time away from it as lost opportunity.
Look, being an entrepreneur is no cake walk. And being an entrepreneur in an industry that is always changing and highly subjective is even tougher. Wearing every hat from talent to marketing to bookkeeping to HR can take up a lot of time, money, and mental space.
But if you haven’t seen the sun in weeks, and weekends are something you vaguely remember having once, but aren’t sure, OR you start every conversation with “I was just narrating a piece about…” OR your kids are starting to fear that “hunched over troll that used to be mom” who lives in the small room in the basement… you may need to take a break, because burnout is real.
We’ve heard a lot of messages in this past year about taking time for self-care, paying attention to your mental health, and slowing down to focus on what’s important. I would add, find outside interests that have nothing to do with voice over (and bonus points if that something is FUN.)
This career is a long game, full of rejection, trial and error, and jagged roads to success. Your primary workload involves putting yourself out there, handling no’s and coming back for more. You don’t do yourself (or the quality of your work) any favors if you don’t allow yourself some distractions and give your brain some time away from constantly obsessing over your next audition.
No one will be surprised that my own outside interests include finding incredible dining experiences and travel, (when the world is normal.) But what some of you may not know is that I’m a trained political scientist and a devoted student of history (World War II era especially.) Those interests led me to read every New York Times newspaper cover to cover starting from January 1, 1930. I’ve read every one through December 15th, 1934 so far and I have plans to read at least a decade more. Not only am I completely fascinated by what I’m reading, but it gives me a mental break from voice over work. It gives my brain something new to focus on and enjoy.
Planning blocks of time into your schedule for marketing, auditioning, and recording are all very important to maximize the efficiency of your work-time management. But don’t forget to schedule-in periods of time to step away and recharge. Pursue something other than voice over. Allow yourself to have fun.
Be interested in more than one thing. Your sanity will thank you.