A daily routine

January 13, 2014 | Filed Under Acting, Dubious pearls of wisdom, General News 

So this year, I’m trying to evolve a daily routine. When you’re an actor, unless you’re profoundly fortunate/successful (delete as appropriate), you’ll likely spend a lot more time looking for work than, you know, doing it. In the times in which you are not acting or earning that month’s rent, it is essential to have a routine, so that when that all-important audition calls, it will not find you croaking, hunched, and blinking mole-like in the daylight, while wearing slippers, Saturday’s underpants and an ex-girlfriend’s strappy vest top, with bags under your eyes and orange Wotsits dust liberally coating your three-week-old castaway beard.

So, my proposed 2014 daily routine:

  • Get up at 9am, no excuses.
  • Do some exercise – some sit-ups, some chin-ups, some press-ups.*
  • Do some semi -supine, because lying down and trying not to do anything at all is essential after doing some exercise.**
  • Do some vocal warm-ups, to keep the voice mellifluous and beautiful.
  • Have a shower, get dressed, have a cup of tea and face the day.
  • Answer any outstanding e-mails.
  • Browse casting websites, apply for any jobs that turn up.
  • Work on the current screenplay, or if it’s not coming that day:
  • research the next one. Always have a second project on the go.
  • Have lunch. Dip into the casting sites every so often.
  • Do a household chore as a way of having a screen break.
  • Research IMDB Pro for possible casting directors to write to. In it to win it, shy bairns get no sweets, etc.
  • Casting sites again. Write a blog post. Look into networking options, workshops, training opportunities. Repeat options 7-12 as appropriate.
  • At 6pm, STOP. Give yourself the freedom to enjoy your evening, safe in the knowledge that you’ve spent the day working diligently at your career.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out like this. So far, it’s been closer to:

  • Get up by 11am (this is crucially important, however tempting it may be to hide in the dark warmth under the duvet until 2pm).
  • Look at the chin-up bar and whimper.
  • Sod the semi-supine, you’ve spent the whole morning lying down already.
  • Fail to find the voice book you bought LAST FEBRUARY, you slacker.
  • Splash water on the face, front and forks, get dressed, have a cup of tea and feel guilty.
  • Browse casting websites – Spotlight (to torture yourself, wondering if your agent has stuck you up for anything good), CCP, Star Now (pff), Equity (hah!), The Stage (double hah! Didn’t spend three years studying film to become a teacher, thankyouverymuch).
  • Gripe on Facebook about all the unpaid work on offer.
  • Stare at the screen blankly, willing a scene to come into existence.
  • Check the casting websites again. Wonder mournfully why half the applications you send don’t get read.
  • Read a screenplay you find online – it’s research, right? ‘Course it is! That’s how you learn, folks, by studying the best.***
  • Check the casting websites again. F*ck me, there’s a paid job! Yeah, it’s only NMW. Sod it, go for it anyway. Load up the form letter, give it a tweak, send it off.****
  • Have another cup of tea. Watch a film and call it research. Feel guilty.
  • Rinse and repeat until 7pm, when you finally crack, boot up some computer game, and go to bed at 2am feeling guilty. Your career is doomed, your future is doomed, even the cat thinks you’re lazy, and looks forward to the day you die and she can eat you.

Onward to victory!

So as you can see, I’ve got a sure-fire play for success planned out, and I’m working it like Dustin Hoffman in a shiny suit. Actors! Writers! Other freelancers! Do you have any great hints, tips or suggestions for keeping on top of the crushing ennui of your daily lives and actually making progress? Share them here! And if you feel you need advice, I’ll be happy to take all calls, and my advice comes at no charge, because we are all rising together. Just not before lunchtime, and give me two days’ notice of a face-to-face, so I can shave and brush the wotsits dust off my face.

 

*In With Nails, Richard E Grant tells how, on the advice of his agent, he spent six months in the gym toning his physique, got the part of Withnail, and was promptly told to let it all go again, because Withnail is a wreck. My belief is that it it’s better to stay trim and then let yourself go to hell if need be, rather than to be an out-of-shape sad-sack and suddenly have to get fighting-fit in three weeks. Not that I’ll ever get cast in something that requires me to be fighting fit, but hey.

**Semi-supine is a part of Alexander Technique, which is a big part of having a neutral posture. My posture used to be bloody shocking, but after months of AT, it is now merely bad. Mostly, it’s just an excuse to lie down.

***This is actually a really good thing to do, both as an actor and a writer, and I’ll come to why in a future blog post. I hear you salivate with anticipation.

****If they want a bespoke letter, they can pay more than £5/hour.

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