Top tips for maintaining a creative career

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Having worked with a variety of Directors, Actors and Writers I’ve managed to just about understand what works (for me) for continuing to work in the creative industry. The experience has made me look at being an artist from a business perspective as well as holistically. When taking these approaches it provides an element of security as well as a desire to maintain a creative career.

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So…here are my top tips for getting into the creative industry and staying there!

Don’t work for free
This can be a really challenging area. Now that I have reached a certain level of experience that I feel confident enough to deliver projects I won’t really work for free unless I feel I’m getting something out of it. An exchange of some kind may be appropriate for a one off. This may come in the form of some video footage, for example or working with a certain Director or adding a specific credential to your C.V. There is a lot of expectation to work for free via a lot of actors websites so just really think about whether you can firstly, afford to and secondly, whether it will be worth your while.

Believe in the work you do
Realise that you have a right to exist and a right to do the things that you want to do. With this belief brings perseverance because no matter what anyone tells you about your work, you will continue to push through with the idea of self belief and capability. Most of the challenging conversations will probably come from loved ones. Either because they are supporting you or are concerned about the future but if you have the belief that you have to make this happen for yourself then it more likely will.

As an actor it’s important to get the balance right between following direction and questioning everything with a sigh or with hesitation. People are very good at picking up on energies and won’t book a person if they feel they are too difficult to work with. Saying that, it’s always really important to protect oneself. If something doesn’t feel or sound right then it’s important to speak up. However if it is not a serious issue that affects you personally then there are always ways of asking questions and making suggestions, to the direction given, without coming across dismissive of all the ideas. I have worked with some Actors who simply vomit their words into the room with disgust when they read some dialogue I’ve written and it can really offend. Even though the person can be (sometimes) right in what they are saying, the way they put their thoughts across has put me off working with them again.

As a Writer who receives feedback too, listening is also about self belief (above) too. Just because one person doesn’t like the ending of the story you’ve written, doesn’t mean you need to run off and change it. Choose to listen to whatever feedback you think will elevate your work. However, be wary of the authors voice in the text and do what’s right for the piece. Equally if 10 people are saying the same thing then it might be worth listening to that feedback. The more people we ask the better our work will become.

Have a Purpose
Once we have achieved something whether that be a casting or a commission or completed a self produced project it’ really important to understand why we do what we do. Creating a purpose behind our creativity allows the validity from the project, we may be searching for, to be lifted. If we depend on the project to give us self esteem then we will never be happy. It will just become an endless cycle of chasing one project after another searching for something that we are not quite sure of. Understanding that we truly are enough with or without the project will create a sense of relief allowing us to place purpose behind the project. So get curious about you! For example, my purpose is to create equality and awareness when it comes to authentic representation. Seeing as I have an interest in the arts, this would be the best platform to express and pursue that purpose.

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Never stop learning
Being able to apply a style, technique, a moment or gesture from something we have seen or read, quickly to a project that we are working on will develop the project. Everything we love doing starts off as a part time hobby but if you dedicate some time to mastering it, everyday, you’ll only get better and better. Although I believe that writers can not make a sole living from writing (maybe apart from journalists) that doesn’t mean we cannot master it. Read how to books, understand what works and what doesn’t. Have a strong desire to learn constantly and consistently. If you’re a playwright, go to the theatre regularly so you know what’s being put on at the moment. If you’re a screenwriter, look into the structure of writing and apply it to the next film you watch. The same applies for most professions. Read!

Celebrate your successes
No matter how small the win is, it’s one step closer to achieving what you want. So get yourself a slice of cake or go out with a friend for the weekend to celebrate those wins. This puts us in the mind frame and energies to want to continue winning.