10 Things To Do When You Don't Have A Gig
Gaps in work happen to everyone. Sometimes they are short welcome vacations from the grind and other times they are long dry deserts and you wonder if you're ever going to work again. Either way they are good and necessary especially for actors and other creatives. We often need to clear out our "creative palette" from project to project and it's much easier to go from cocaine addicted, edgy single mother in an low budget indy film to fairy princess in a TYA show that can belt to an F if we have a moment to push the reset button. Still I often get caught up in the, not working thing, and forget about all the great things I could be doing with my extra down time. Here's a list to help you remember to embrace the season you're in no matter how long or short.
1. Stay off Facebook: stay off of social media period. EVERYONE'S life will look more full, and more exciting then yours. You will think EVERYONE is booking, or EVERYONE is on vacation or EVERYONE just bought an $800 farm table for their Mc'mansion. It's the highlight reels ya'll and it's so deceptive.
2. Cry: you are human, you are out of work, it's okay to be sad, scared, frustrated.. So cry and then get over it. Don't get too high in the high times, don't get to low in the low times.
3. Work: on your craft. Take classes and workshops, find a coach or get a group together to work on scenes and monologues. Don't get stagnate, acting is a muscle.
4. Learn a new skill: guitar, combat fighting, even getting yoga certified can be marketable. Learning will help you feel less like you are standing still while everyone else is moving forward. Talk to your agent, or others in the industry and find out what's hot right now and learn it. Who knows maybe something you already do well needs to be on your resume and you didn't even know it.
5. Self-reflection: and meditation are necessary in order to clean your plate and move forward. With all this extra time on your hands you have the perfect opportunity to create a vision and/or vision board for yourself. Think about what you've learned and what what has gone wrong and right in the past few months or years. Maybe it's time to change directions or maybe it's time to make that move to a bigger or smaller market. Breaks in work give you much need perspective.
6. Your Look: this one may just be for me but I am so bad with make-up. I often get called to be on set hair and make-up ready. So I could use an afternoon in front of the mirror with some YouTube tutorials. Maybe you've got makeup down but you need to work on hair, or throwing some audition ready outfits together, whatever helps you perfect your signature look, or the look that get's you booked...work on that.
7. Build Relationships: meet with your agent, manager, your BFF, your mama. Get out of the house. You can take some initiative and sit down with your agent and figure out your next move. You can also connect with friends and family. Working, especially the crazy hours of acting, can often leave friends and family confused as to when you're available. Let them know you love them and reach out. Be prepared for them to not be available but keep trying (that's a whole other post).
8. Declutter: simplify, simplify, simplify. My house gets totally berserk when you're working. Cleaning out closets, donating somethings and getting organized always make me feel a little bit lighter and free. Unpack all that stuff you brought home from your dressing room or set and get ready for the next project.
9. Create: write, compose, make your own opportunities. If they won't hire you hire yourself.
10. Watch, learn, listen: don't do that thing where you feel bad about not having another project so you hide out in your house. Go see plays, movies, readings, concerts. Study in your seat, get inspired in the aisles. Just be prepared with a stock answer to "so what are you working on now" when you inevitably run into someone you know in the industry.
Whatever you do, don't close yourself off. If all else fails book non-refundable tickets on a vacation and magically auditions and can't pass up opportunities will appear. It's up to you whether you honor that down time and go on the trip or go with the flow and hop back on the hustle.
One last tip: schedule and plan a few of these things before the curtain comes down, or the shoot wraps. You will feel a little less of that post show slump if you do.