"Resting": What to do In-between Jobs
words by Kara Chamberlain
"Resting" is a term commonly used to describe an actor or artist who is between jobs. Affectionate as it may seem, periods of unemployment can be anything but restful.
If you have your next job lined up already, you may look like this...
But in the (more common) scenario that you are staring into the empty void of unemployment it can be a bit more...
Often the response to this lack of work is to throw yourself into the job hunt, emailing and phoning as many people as possible to try and get work, coming up with plans and schemes to get your toe in the door....you know, "resting".
What can we be doing to keep ourselves moving forward? Here are a few things you can do to stay productive without burning yourself out.
**COVID-19 EDIT: Right now most of us in the arts are out of a job, and with many industries at a complete stand-still there are no opportunities to apply for. This is a uniquely stress-inducing situation, but one that has a sliver of hope: we are all in the same boat. There is no need for FOMO because there is nothing to miss out on, taking time to rest and recover is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your career. Now, more than ever, we need to stay present and practice "resting", so that we are ready to go when opportunities start to reappear.
Keep yourself performance-ready.
This applies to any art form. If you are a painter, what techniques do you need to practice so you can ace your next commission? If you are an actor, what body and voice work do you need to do in order to play your dream character? It is important to remember that this is not the time to tire yourself out with daily 5 hour workouts or endless still life paintings, you just need to maintain your base level of proficiency so that when your next job comes you aren't playing catch-up. This is one of the most important things you can do (that is coming from someone who has long neglected her vocal practice and is having to climb back on that horse).
As Seneca says, "luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation". And you know he's right, otherwise his wisdom wouldn't have stuck around for so long.
Catch up on your industry knowledge.
Watch a new series and make note of the casting director, check out an exhibit at the Tate Modern (which you can do online during lockdown here) and jot down things that inspire you, this is the time to get back in touch with your industry. Keeping a list of who you are inspired by, who you want to work with, and who you already know can be a helpful part of figuring out where your next job is going to come from. As an actor, it is important for me to know who is casting what. That way I can get in touch with casting directors in a meaningful way when I think I might be right for a project.
Avoid madly emailing everyone you know in the hopes that someone has a lead on a new job. Be mindful and intentional about who you contact, and remember that the right email at the right time could result in opportunity - but bombarding people constantly will get you sent straight to voicemail.
Remind yourself of what inspires you.
Sometimes my most inspired work has come when I have no creative projects on the go. Having space and time to see what comes to you is a great way to discover new muses. I've dabbled in poetry, drawing, music, knitting, writing...all because my creative energy was able to flow wherever it wanted. Giving yourself some space can be the creative kick-start you've been waiting for, so take time to explore new ideas and humour all of your creative whimsies.
Connect with your community.
Finally, many artists will know that when we get stuck into a project our friends and family will have to move mountains to get our attention. Hopefully you have wonderful, understanding people in your life who support your work and let you off the hook for not returning their calls or for missing their parties. Now is the time to give them your attention, thank them for their support, and reconnect. People who fill up your energetic cup are an invaluable resource, so use this time to foster those relationships. When you inevitably become busy again you'll be grateful that you built a strong foundation in your relationships.
Being out of work is hard. It can take a financial toll as well as an artistic one. So be gentle with yourself, and remember that there is some truth in the idea of being a resting artist. Art making takes a lot out of us, so honour the time you have to refuel so that you can ace the next opportunity that comes your way.