Creativity for actors is the ability to let your heart, mind, and intuition guide you as your body and voice bring words to life. So actors need to be ready to do their best work whenever opportunity knocks. Keeping your creative juices flowing keeps you sharp and will help you reach your career goals faster. Here are 10 ways to stay in top creative shape.
1. Make a creative workspace.
Select a space in your home as your “creative place” where all of your projects, dreams, inspirations, and goals come together. We’re creatures of habit; a dedicated space where we’re used to being creative prompts us to be creative whenever we enter it.
2. Start writing.
Understanding the writer’s intent and how they achieve it is central to the actor’s craft. The more you learn about storytelling, the more creative (and effective) your storytelling becomes. Writing also puts you in touch with your own stories and helps you clarify thoughts and feelings about what’s most important to you. Start writing and your acting will improve.
3. Make sure to sleep.
Sometimes you get a gig with a lot of text on short notice so you stay up and cram because you know your creativity won’t help if you don’t know your lines. But in most cases, getting less sleep is actually the opposite of what your brain needs. Brain waves during REM sleep look a lot like brain waves during high-level concentration and thinking when we’re awake. That great idea you get in the middle of the night will probably come during REM sleep. If you don’t really need to pull that all-nighter, more sleep will help you be more creative.
4. Become a student of your craft and industry!
The more you know, the more you have to draw on and use in your work. Read about acting and actors you admire. Watch great performances. Read great plays, screenplays, books about filmmaking, television production, and subscribe to trade publications. Research gives you different perspectives on your craft, allowing you to explore it in new ways. To be a working actor in the entertainment industry requires uniqueness, ability, and professionalism. Understanding your industry clarifies what your job is within it and opens your mind to ways you can be a more capable contributor.
5. Remember to exercise.
Studies have shown that as little as 15 minutes of aerobic exercise improves mental performance. Adding a morning workout to your day or taking a short walk before your daily actor’s workout will help you think more clearly. Exercising outdoors in nature always centers me, clears my head, and sets me up to do my best work.
6. Make something by hand.
Working with your hands lets you express yourself in a new way. Painting, drawing, sculpting, making furniture, or crocheting can free your mind from familiar patterns and spark your creativity.
7. Take time to daydream.
When you’re hard at work and not getting anywhere, daydreaming can distract your attention from the task giving you a welcome break and allowing new ideas to appear.
8. Try to meditate.
Meditation reduces stress, improves focus, attention, and your ability to ignore distractions—it’s like strength training for the brain. Daily meditation helps you problem solve, sharpen your mind, and think more creatively, enabling you to perform at a higher level more consistently and with less effort.
9. Get inspired.
Doing the same things, again and again, can put you in a creative rut. To break out, try doing something outside your #ActorsWorld. Read about architecture, philosophy, science, or anything new that interests you. Visit (virtually for now if you can) a museum, zoo, or botanical garden. Attend online music or dance concerts you might not normally see. The more interests you have, the more interesting you become.
10. Be inspired by “rejection.”
If not being cast feels like a rejection, you’re going to be a very unhappy actor. If you choose steak instead of fish from a lunch menu, it’s not personal. You like fish, you just felt like eating steak today. The fish would be foolish to feel rejected. When you audition and aren’t cast, it’s also not personal. Instead of feeling rejected, use it as an opportunity to think creatively about your preparation and performance and explore new ways you can communicate more effectively through your work.
*This post was originally published on April 30, 2018. It has since been updated.
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