Last Thursday I embarked on a new journey. Well, technically not new because I started it before back in 2008– omg how time flies. Anyway, it’s a kind of 12-step program– 12 weeks to be exact– in the form of a book, that is actually one of the books on my actor’s reading list: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
I first bought the book in 2008 when I wasn’t ready. I was in this weird in-between phase… just out of college but far enough from graduating that I wasn’t really a recent college-grad. Living in San Francisco but dreaming of Los Angeles. Part-time job at a social media start-up, not quite willing to commit to a full 9-5. In other words, full of fear. So much so that I couldn’t get through just a menial layer to even finish week 1 of the 12 in the book. What’s ironic about it all is that the purpose of the book is to get through, past your fears and make your art, whatever that may be. But I guess it’s kind of like therapy. You have to want to go in order to get the therapy in the first place. So, I wasn’t ready and that’s okay. Now, I feel ready. I still feel scared, anxious, apprehensive, skeptical, but I’m ready and I’m doing it!
I know I will be faced with many challenges throughout the next 12 weeks, but I already feel good about week 1. Last night I picked up a paintbrush, which I haven’t done in a long, long time. Art was my first love after all– yes, even before acting. Granted, it was just slightly before but it was first none the less. Picking up the paintbrush wasn’t easy. First, I had to make the decision to do art. I was feeling bored (which is really just fear in disguise) and then I was feeling indecisive– go out to a Hawaiian themed Christmas party, or make art. Once I finally settled on option 2, I had to decide what kind of art– drawing? painting? holiday cards? And, what medium– pencil, pen, colored pencil, acrylic, oil, water color? On cardboard or paper or canvas? Too many options! Just enough to say, “You know what, forget it. I’ll just go out for a drink.” Fortunately, I silenced that voice. The book is full of helpful reminders to get past all those voices. I said to myself, “It doesn’t matter. Who cares what kind of art I do, as long as I do it.” So I settled on making an acrylic painting. But don’t think I was off the hook yet! No, no…. Once I started that painting I had to then silence my inner critic who wouldn’t shut up! “This doesn’t look right. The proportions are wrong. The color is ugly. The composition is boring. You’re wasting paint.” And on and on. Again, I had to remind myself: “It doesn’t matter.” I repeated what my 3rd grade art teacher used to tell us in after school art club, “There are no mistakes in art.” It’s become my mantra.
I realized, in this process of creating a simple painting, that this is so applicable to acting as well. I need to stop being concerned with how talented I am or am not or comparing myself to other’s abilities or other’s careers (not that I really do this a lot, but I think we’ve all been there…) I need to stop being concerned with how the lines come out as long as I’m truthful. I need to stop being worried about all the “shoulds” (i.e. you should do casting director workshops) and “shouldn’ts” (i.e. you shouldn’t do obscure non-union black box theater, it’s a waste of time) and just DO. I need to not be afraid to be bad. I have to silence that inner critic and hone in on that original voice, the one that called me to acting in the first place. There is a reason I heard it. That’s why I’m here, in LA finally committing to my dream, writing this blog, and embarking on this journey…