Let Us Not Confuse Waiting In Line with Productivity
A few years ago, I asked my clients who regularly attend cattle call auditions (EPAs, ECCs, and open calls) to accept a challenge. It consisted of two tasks:
Calculate how many hours you spent waiting in line to get into an audition room last week.
Reject waiting in line this week. Instead, take that same number of hours this week and use them to pursue different ways to get into the audition room with an appointment.
Those who accepted the challenge couldn’t fill the time. There were too many hours. But most chickened out and didn’t accept the challenge at all. Instead they continued to wait in line.
See, waiting is easy. And it is seductive. It seduces you into believing that you have been productive.
But waiting is the opposite of productive. When something is productive, it actually produces results. Waiting produces nothing.
So why are you waiting?
I’ll tell you why. Because you are afraid of the hard part. You are afraid that if you aggressively pursue the things you believe in, the projects you could contribute to in a meaningful way, the collaborations that could impact the world, you will have to make good on your promise of excellence. And then what?
“No, Jen, that’s not it…
I have to pay my dues.
It is inappropriate to reach out.
Casting will blacklist me.
The music director will think I’m a stalker.
My agent says I have to be patient.
… I’m not afraid. I just don’t want to rock the boat or step on someone’s toes.”
I will push back.
You are afraid to share your greatest gifts with the people who could use them.
You are afraid of success.
You are afraid to see what you are truly capable of.
Waiting in that line is the antidote to your fear. It allows you to pretend that you are doing something to advance your vision, to "do the work", to move your career forward. With so much love, I am here to tell you that you are fooling yourself.
Get creative. Find a solution. Pave new roads. Innovate. Doggedly pursue what you want. Generously share what you know you can give. Contribute something meaningful to those fellow artists whose work matters to you.
For every excuse you give me as to why you can’t/won’t/shouldn’t/mustn’t do anything but follow the rules and wait in line, I will tell you a story of an artist who wrote their own rules, took a risk, and got themselves into the room without having to wait. I know these artists. They are not hypothetical. They exist. They are scared shitless too. But they face their fear and do it anyway. Because they are pros.
Your excuses are no good here.
What are you waiting for?