I have many friends in theater - Actors, musicians, dancers, puppeteers and many more. They often ask me how do I make a successful living as a performer. Well. Its quite simple and very difficult.
a. People perform fo a variety of reasons, but mostly because they love it.
b. Theater succeeds because audiences buy tickets.
A & B are not the same and are only marginally related. Caring about something, even if you care a great deal, will not cause it to become a successful business.
Over the years I have many (many, many) friends try and create a successful theater business...and nearly all fail. In their defense they usually have tons of talent and infinite drive. But you need that and a business sense.(1) And capital. And luck.
There are some theater models that tend to work:(2)
- Dinner theater
- talent shows
- Stand-up comedy
- renaissance fairs
And there are some that almost never work:
- bagpipe musicals
- all mime
In the Twin Cities there are 50+ theater companies; and they mostly do the same things. They are successful.
BIG IDEA: Before you start a theater business (or ANY business) do a little research -- Find out which models tend to work.
1. Know anything about marketing? reading a P&L sheet? The difference between an employee and a contractor? The non-profit model?
2. Mostly by being popular, selling food and alcohol and keeping expenses under gross income.)
Where do you get all your ideas, Dave? You write perform, coach, create film and even teach creativity -- How do you do it?
Don't you even find yourself with nothing to write about? ( Joke about, create, film, build, teach, etc.)
Hasn't everything already been done/ told/ created?
I have writer's block.
No. You have a case of lazy.
Writer's block is a completely made up thingie. It is an excuse to not write. You can't think of ANYTHING to write about - really?
Here's an idea; Make a list of nouns. Write about those. (Seriously ask me about the 5x5 exercise)
You might not be writing because you are letting your editor interfere with your writer -- Hint -- when you are writing, just write - no editing, no judging no cross outs. Just write.
Want short story ideas? Mash stuff together. A place, a device and two women. A feeling, your childhood, food preparation.
Part of being a writer ( or any sort of creative) is working. And part of that work - possibly the most of it -- is coming up with things to do. You will spend time thinking, experimenting and running up dead ends. A lot of time. Its part of the job, its part of your process.
Tonight's big idea: Creative work requires work. Often lots of it. The raw material of most creative projects is ideas; acquiring them, remembering them and trying them out. Get used to it.
rule 1 Get over it. You are smart/ funny/ beautiful/ intelligent. Stop trying to hide it/ move yourself to the boring middle/ not using your superpowers. Shut the up about how hard it is to be an artist/ MC/ potter/ alt/rocker/ smureffette impressionist.
I meet lots of people who are new creatives. They ask me fairly frequently how this and that is done, and almost every question is, at its center-- "How do you do it?"
It being success.
I really liked Pulp Fiction; way too violent but genius in the way it makes YOU put it together and figure out the rules as you go - work it out and keep up bub, or miss the party.
So this essay is some helpful rules and lots of tough love.
rule 2. study the masters. Whatever fields interest you have a past - use it. Study whatever is available.
rule 3. Is it totally unnecessary to figure out what field you are in.
Rule 4. start. This is actually number one. Stop reading books about writing books. Stop collecting bound journals and pens -- There is NO coloration between the quality of your notebook and the quality of your writing.
Rule 5 there are lots of ways to work; but for the purpose of rule 7 lets talk about returning the favor when a mentor helps.**
Rule 6 Creativity is the same across all media, fields and disciplines. A dancer uses the same toolbox as a writer, as a comic, as a bronze sculptor as a teacher as....
Rule 7 when you start your stuff ( whatever it is you do / are making= your stuff) will look like the masters stuff. Ok actually your stuff will be bad***
***rule 8 be bad. Make lots of mistakes. Seriously, stink up the room. Prob. The most important rule ( see also failure} but I had to bury it here at 8 so you wouldn't stop reading at number one.
Rule 9 Creative? You will need to get over the need for finished ideas, closed projects and sequntial numbering.
Rule 10 Make space for art. In your house, in your day. In your life. “art” is whatever you want it to be.
For my friends it might be writing, movie making or jokes.
Rule 11 Its hard!
Rule 12 The people in your life who don't like your projects (stuff)? Get them out of your life – release them gently and calmly, but you need support.
Rule 13 Stop with the time wasters. TV is one, smoking another. You need time to learn, sit, fail, create.
Rule 14 get a notebook.
Rule 15 Get a notebook
Rule 16 get a notebook, cary it everywhere, show only those you trust,
its for ideas. Write them down. draw them...
Rule one.You don't need to make a living with your creativity to be happy.
Rule 17. College might help. It might not.
** how do you pay someone back who makes a major major difference in your development?
Money. Say ' thank you”. Be great. Pay it forward. Fix their Buick. Etc.
That wasn't really nineteen. I've saving nineteen for when I see you
Rule 20 Don't steal. You will not grow and it hurts the one person who thought was so good that your had to use their 'stuff.” Ask permission. Create your own. Pay them. Yes, you may quote this and repost with attribution. Stealers have excuses; creators create. Pick your ethics early
Rule 21 There are very few rockstars.
Rule 22 Nearly every success creative professional I've every met had most of the following attributes; worked hard, disciplined, lucky, smart, had health care paid for by their partner's job, worked 10 years minimum before they were successful, had a good sense of business and marketing, is driven by a need to do their 'stuff,' lives fairly cheaply, works weekends, has talent, keeps learning, reads, is friendly,