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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Endless Distractions

We all face them. They come in many shapes and sizes. They seem so very, very compelling in the moment.

And they do absolutely nothing for us.

Let's stop for a moment. Do we know what our acting career goals are? If we don't, that's probably the first priority. If we don't have a direction that we're actively headed, getting diverted from that path really doesn't matter too much, does it? :)

Now, once we have defined what it is that we want, let's look at the things that seem to take time away from that goal.

Sleep. Okay, unless you're spending more than 9 hours in bed, I think you're fine on this one. A bigger problem here is usually the opposite. Pushing so hard, burning the candle at both ends (and possibly from the middle as well), that we end up collapsing. Just in case it's not clear, when we go face-down we're probably not going to be pursuing our goals all that well.

Work. Another one that's kinda important. We need to pay the bills. Not doing so is cause for some pretty interesting (read: painful) experiences--no heat, no electricity, no food, no place in which to lie our pretty little heads. Again, this is not too conducive to pursuing our career objectives. The one challenge here is not to sacrifice what we want long term for what we want right now. I know an awful lot of unhappy real estate agents who just want to act.

Food. Ah, food. My friend, my solace, my downfall. Are we eating to live, or living to eat? Do we eat unhealthily? Do we eat to make the emptiness go away? Or are we eating out so often that we have to work overtime in order to pay for our habit (see above). It's important that we stay healthy, and eating properly is a huge part of that.

Exercise. This is a no-brainer. Just do it. It will actually increase the amount of your productive time by giving you more available energy. Plus, you'll look better, feel better and have greater confidence.

Now, for all the rest, take an honest look and assess. Is this taking me closer to or further away from my goals? If it's the former, keep it up. The latter? Cut that sucker out, if at all possible. A partial list of possible distractions? I'm not even going to go there. We know.

But here's the biggest distraction that I see in a lot of actors (and one that will make you absolutely crazy): worrying about things that have we have no control over. Why didn't I get that last callback? They loved my callback; why didn't I get the part? Am I too old to have a successful career now? What if the casting director doesn't like me?

Stop it! It's not helping you.

Sometimes, in order to stop thinking about the things we have no control over, we'll go in the opposite direction. We obsess over completely trivial things simply because we do have control over them. Should I part my hair on the right or the left? Blue shirt or red one? Blond or brunette? Dress professionally or dress up like the character? Paper or plastic???

Can these things have an effect? Sure. But it's rare for us to know what that effect will be ahead of time. So stop stressing about it. Think about being prepared. Think about developing your craft. Think about connecting.

All the other stuff is just that...stuff.


  1. It can be easy to get distracted. We have to take control. Only let the things we care about and can do something about distract us. I'm older and have a family, they are important and are the cause of many distractions. You have to decide, can I take the time to be distracted now?, what will happen if I do nothing? What happens when you are distracted while you are distracted? Deal with all these problems as best as you can and store away the life experience so that you can call on it again when your character deals with it.

  2. OMG!! I agree! I used to get SO caught up about stressing over uncontrollable situations. Good one!