As actors and artists, it can be tempting to want to search for inspiration in our attempt to achieve excellence. So we wait for inspiration to guide us towards excellence.
We see famous people who work in the industry and wonder how they were able to pull off a role, or become so in tune with their character without much time to rehearse. Admittedly, I like to assume they were just inspired out of the blue and then ran with the gold they were given.
I mean, surely they were able to soak in inspiration and ooze it out in their performances simply because they were born with a special brain.
As convincing as this can sound in my head, it’s usually not the case. It all comes down to how much work they put in and decided not to quit when things got tough. We usually don’t see their struggles or tireless effort, but it’s there.
The best actors are the ones who sweat the most and who work day and night on their projects.
You gotta believe
One of the biggest things which helped me put the time and effort into whatever I do, is believing I’ll get better at it and I’ll learn new things. This has taken me so long to learn, and to be sure, I’m still learning it.
It can be tough to put in the hard work and the effort when you don’t really believe you can get better, or you don’t see immediate results. A motivation killer to be sure, which is why it’s good to reassess what you believe.
What you believe will affect your work more than you know. If you believe you can succeed, you’re more likely to live and work in such a way it proves to be true. Not to say that success and excellence comes to all those who believe, but it will come to you a lot sooner than someone who believes they can’t succeed and lives out that prophecy of self.
How do you build a house? One brick at a time
Another thing I’ve learned about hard work is it’s so beneficial to learn discipline and do a little bit of work each day. Are there acting exercises you can do? Improv games you can practice with yourself or with someone else? Then schedule a little time each day to practice those exercises.
The little things will add up into something big. There’s a great quote about this by my favourite painter, Van Gogh, who said, “great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
When it comes to hard work, the best kind of work is what you can train yourself to do each day to build yourself and close the gap between where you are now in your acting and where you want to be. But it takes patience and discipline.
Both are yours if you believe they are and live it out. The way you practically do this is by setting aside time, like thirty minutes or an hour each day and committing the time to what you want to grow in. You will learn both patience and discipline if you keep to the schedule you make.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” -Van Gogh
Sometimes the only difference between those who are able to perform and create excellently and those who don’t, is the choice to keep doing something.
Despite whatever doubts, lies, or lack of inspiration they might’ve had, they still put in the work. Doing something as opposed to doing nothing seems basic, but it can’t be stressed enough. And then, when you practice doing something, even a little something, you can tackle more and more over time.
The best example I can give is the example of climbing a mountain:
You stand at the base and look up, knowing how to climb the mountain. You understand it’s not going to be easy, but the view from the top is worth it. The only thing which gets you to the top is taking one step at a time. Each day you put in the effort and take a step closer to the top. Some parts of the hike are steeper than others. Some days will seem harder than others.
But in taking those steps you’ll find yourself at the top of the mountain, and maybe even find the inspiration you were looking for when you look back on how far you’ve come.
When it comes to getting where you want to go, there’s nothing which will help more than the sweat which comes from daily effort. Effort which is only possible if you believe you can make it and get better.
Here’s a great video by Ira Glass which talks about the importance of doing lots of work.
May it be an inspiration to all actors and artists who perspire for excellence.