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Tell the voice over in your head to shut up

Recently, I read a blog post by Remit Sethi (the “I will teach you to be rich” guy) called “How to stop feeling guilty” and a lot of what he says definitely applies to voice actors. Just about every day, I get emails, Facebook messages, LinkedIn messages, etc. like these from discouraged voice actors:

Since my agent can’t find me any work, and neither can Voice123, I can safely assume that mine simply isn’t the type of voice that people want to hire.

I went to a Broadcasting school five years ago. I have sent Resumes. I did get some leads, and that is it. I am FRUSTRATED. What am I doing wrong?

I’m ready to take the next step to get back on track…just not too sure where to begin. Just feeling very frustrated and stuck!

Make your studio a “safe room”

You will get discouraged in the voice over industry. It happens to every single voice actor, no matter how experienced, famous, or talented. This discouragement and frustration will start to manifest itself in your auditions, so it’s important to walk into the studio with a “blank slate”. Every audition is a new beginning; forget that job that you just knew that you were going to book yesterday or that client that said “thanks, but we are going with someone else for this one.” They don’t exist inside your studio. Your home studio should be a safe place where nothing exists outside of it. Once you hit that record button, everything and everyone else in the world should fade away. However, letting go of negative energy is much easier if you don’t create it in the first place. ;)

Quit sabotaging yourself before you begin

Okay, so I know I spend a lot of time warning you not to audition for everything. This is still true, of course, if you are auditioning for projects that you are not right for, you won’t get jobs and you will definitely get discouraged, so don’t set yourself up for failure. But, what I am talking about here is your mindset. It’s very difficult to find that perfect balance of not getting your hopes up too much about an audition and not caring at all.

In Remit’s blog post, he says,

Yes, you ARE responsible for being stuck. No, it’s not your mom, or society, or the heteronormative patriarchal bonds that hold you down. (Do they have an influence on all of us? Of course. Can we control them? No.)

But you can control one thing: yourself. This might be uncomfortable to hear, but it’s true.

This is really good advice for voice actors because you can’t control what potential clients are listening for in auditions. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse that morning and your voice happens to remind them of their wife or husband. How many times have you heard a commercial or video you auditioned for and thought, “They picked that guy/girl?!?!” Seriously, so much is out of your control in this industry, but, at the same time, so much is. Focus on what you can control and accept what you can’t.

Controlling negative self talk

Who are the critics in your life? Is there someone in your life telling you that you just aren’t good enough? Have you read comments in forums that “newbies” need to stay out of voice acting and leave it to the veteran professionals? If so, realize that their negativity is their problem, not yours. Stop feeling guilty about pursuing your passion and turn that guilt into action. While you may have actual critics who try to discourage you, most of the time we figure out that we are our own worst critics. Stop for a moment. Look around and you are sure to find much more support than negativity.

Check out this recent popular post on Reddit.com. If you know anything about Reddit, you know that it is hard to get a post seen by so many people. This thread has recently blown up: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1w6yti/iama_a_bottom_feeder_voice_actor_i_do_voice_overs/

This guy basically says he doesn’t have money for a good demo and coaching, so he’s stuck voicing the “low paying crap that no other voice actors want to do.” I encourage you to check out the thread and see some of the comments that have been posted. You will find that he is getting lots of good advice and positivity from people all over the planet. He needs to take his comment and turn it into a positive, something like, “I will save $xxx dollars from my low budget work for the next few months and use it to take a voice acting class”.

At the same time, you can find tons of forums and communities bashing individual voice actors, websites, clients, etc. This kind of negativity is rampant across the Internet. Don’t get caught up in it! Remember that potential clients may Google you before they hire you. If the first thing they find online is you ranting and bashing one of your former clients in a forum somewhere, they are definitely going to think twice about hiring you! I say, just stay away and stay positive. Here’s some great advice from Ramit about how to do that:

Bad rankings happen

It’s part of being a voice actor. Not everyone is going to love your voice! Take those rankings from clients with a grain of salt. In fact, just ignore them. Yes, I know that the ranking system is one of the parts of Voice123.com that voice actors love, but, if you’re like me (and most other voice talents), you get a few great ones, a few medicore ones, and a few bad ones. It all evens out, so I just audition and forget it. If they love me, they’ll contact me; if they don’t, they won’t. What good does it do to brood on that audition? Who cares? I’m going to go into my “safe room” studio with my blank slate to do my best on the next one.

What does that negative voice over in your head tell you?

Mine says: “You’re getting too old to pull off a sexy read.” Yeah. Really. I know! So, how do you make that voice shut up? You turn it into a positive. Instead, I tell myself, “You can pull off the more mature and sophisticated sexy reads, plus, you’re great at ‘mom’ reads now!”

Do you have a negative voice persisting in your head? What is it saying? How can you make it a positive?

I encourage you to post your answers to this question in the comments. This blog is also a “safe room” – other voice actors may draw some inspiration from you and be able to offer some advice and encouragement. :)

Special thanks to Remit Sethi for the inspiration.

photo credit: tim caynes via photopin cc