Yeah, that’s a weird title, but I hope the hyphen clarifies what I meant – taking hold of that feeling of discouragement, and taking away its comfort level by giving it a dose of itself, in order to move it far, far away from our consciousness.
A few months ago I found this funny (but painfully accurate) voiceover meme:
(If the image is difficult to see, its premise is that our friends and family may think of us voiceover artists as all being wildly successful icons like Don Lafontaine, while the reality for many (like me) seems at times like the last image of a struggling artist pleading for the phone to ring).
That meme has been especially accurate of late, as I have gone the last 4 months without winning any jobs on Voice123.com. Along with auditions, I have kept myself busy each weekday practicing my reads, weather forecasting, marketing, updating this blog, volunteering with VoiceCorps, and picking up other paid work that has come my way. But the lack of any successful auditions on V123 bothered me.
You see, I had landed my first job last year on Voice123 on my 20th audition, and then again on my 40th. It was another 2 months before I was successful a third time – and then the long drought.
I was discussing this with my wife last week, and she asked me if I was discouraged. I felt like saying yes, but then I realized if I did, I would be admitting defeat. So I said, “No – but I am disappointed. I thought I would be doing better by now.” And right then I felt better as a voice actor. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it solidified my motivation as to why I chose to pursue voiceover – because I like it, and because I know there are clients out there who will eventually hire me if I’m hungry enough and want it bad enough.
Coincidentally, during our last two monthly Meet-Ups for Central Ohio voice actors, the subject of dealing with non-success and strategies to strive for improvement no matter what were discussed heavily – and just when I needed it the most. My fellow group members are some of the best resources available, and they are happy to share their thoughts and suggestions when asked.
I guess all those things made me buckle down by doing a few auditions this past Saturday, when I would normally not work. One project was a very small part, just two lines – and with a foreign accent. I hadn’t auditioned with that accent before, but I thought I could do it pretty well, and I sent it in and forgot about it.
Three days later, while going out for lunch, I got the notification I’d been selected, and my jaw dropped when I saw which spot it was. I came back home, re-recorded and polished it, and thanked the client for the business.
Interestingly, my successful jobs have been using voices that are, in my opinion, NOT in my wheelhouse: a read that has “rookie” written all over it with over-enunciation, one with a “young adult male” voice (I’m 58 and I was proud of that one!), one with a plain flat voice with no inflection reading testimonial letters, and now one with an accent.
Then again, maybe my strengths are somehow in my weaknesses? I’ll have to think about that one.
In any case, that little guy that calls himself “discouragement” has left the building for now. He may try to hang out with me again someday, but for now I’m too busy, and may need to put on my sunglasses, a la Timbuk 3.
How about you readers out there? Any anecdotes you’d like to share on how you deal with discouragement and disappointment, especially as a voice actor? I’d love to hear from you, just click on “Leave A Reply” in the top right of this message. (No spam or solicitations, please – those WILL be terminated with extreme prejudice).
That’s all for now. Until next time, keep your best voice forward, and give yourself a mental shot of courage to dis-courage that discouragement. Take care.