Downtime

Since 1993 I have worked consistently in entertainment, but that does not mean that I have worked every day, or every week, or every month, or every six months. Once in my twenties I went almost a full year between gigs, and in my 30’s I had a nine month dry spell that very nearly broke me. I was newly married and deeply in debt. I started calling friends in the corporate world, weighing my other options, then somehow things turned around.

In the long stretches between jobs, where every day is my own, I can putter around the apartment, organize my camera gear, go to the gym, have a leisurely coffee with a friend, play video games, learn about ham radio, or ideally….write something. Despite the endless possibilities, actually because of them, time off is fucking stressful, and no matter what credits you have, or how much money you have in the bank, these periods can get bleak. The ability to stay remotely positive during these fallow periods is the single determining factor in my view, moreso even than creative talent, in determining who is cut out for a life in the arts, and who will end up moving on to something with more structure.

Remember this and you’ll have it right: working is the vacation, surviving between jobs is the actual job. And even though you may feel a constant pressure to create projects, write scripts, have meetings, take a few minutes every day to remind yourself to let all of that go. Sure it’s good to write scripts. Meetings are awesome too. But focus on the basics, like be nice to people and don’t die. I’m talking about really redefining what it means, in these quiet times, to be successful. If you can go from sunrise to sunset with minimal impact on the earth, and without hurting another living thing, then you’ve had a productive day. And you’re that much closer to your next gig.

2 thoughts on “Downtime”

  1. Michael… I stumbled on to your comment about downtime, and it is brilliant.
    I go through the same bloody thoughts, and it doesn’t matter how well you’ve done, it is still hard. But your points are correct, and it is why, I think, I have managed to survive and thrive in this crazy business we call “show business” .

    I wish you the best
    Cheers
    Michel

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