Thursday, November 5, 2015

6 Necessary Steps to Becoming A Professional Creator - Part 1

Yesterday I received another email from a former student asking for career advice. She wants to know what she needs to do to have a professional career as a musical theatre performer.

This type of email is exactly why I started Creatavita. I could have spent an evening writing an email that only she would read.  Instead I'm writing these posts. More of you will be informed and inspired, and I'll have more time for my own creating!

Here's what I think you need to do if you want to become a professional creator.  You'll notice that I usually refer to the theatre industry, but these steps can apply to any creative business.  There's quite a bit of information in here, so I'll be sending it out in two posts.  

What do you need to do?  You need to:

1.  Craft a 5-year plan. You are starting a business, a business in a highly challenging, yet highly rewarding industry. You need a plan.

Start by picking a start date. Tomorrow works well. So does today. Write it down. Now write down the same date and change the year to five years from now. Congrats! You've started your plan. By giving yourself five years with a specific start and end, you now have a reasonable deadline.

Now, begin to write your plan. Really. Look at this post for more help. Enlist someone you trust completely to hold you accountable to sticking with your plan. This step is super difficult, but trust me, please trust me, THIS WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. Yes, I am yelling, but I am yelling from my own experience as well as an honest desire to help you fulfill your dreams.

Review your plan weekly for the first 8 weeks. Are you on track? Have you taken any steps? After the first 8 weeks, review it monthly. Oh, and that start date? Happy Anniversary! Every year, on that date, you are going to visit your plan and make any necessary changes. It's your plan, so feel free to adapt it.

2. Find a Parallel Career. What is a parallel career? That's the job that sustains you when you aren't being sustained by your creative career. Sustain can mean money, but it also means your soul. Remember that.

These are the qualities you want in a parallel career:
    1. Good income
    2. Reasonable level of fulfillment
    3. Work you can envision yourself doing for the rest of your life.
    4. Flexibility
Thanks to the Internet, finding a lucrative, fulfilling parallel career has become easier. Stay tuned to Creatavita because there will be an upcoming post about parallel careers. In the meantime, roll back to this one to get started.

3. Get Out There. Or as one of my colleagues said, “There's work out there for me. I have to find it.” Start auditioning, showing your portfolio, submitting writing samples, your demos, etc. to appropriate organizations. Yesterday. This is still the main road to finding work. Keep track and after you've done a certain number, let's say six, give yourself a reward.

Let's return to appropriate – you've got to be smart about where to market your wares.  I'll use the theatre industry as an example. If you're an actor and your resume is full of community theatre credits, auditioning for principal roles at an Equity regional theatre is probably an inefficient use of your time and energy. You're missing experience levels that tell the producers you have what they need for their productions. Yes, it is tempting to focus on that one person (out of thousands) who left Podunkville and went straight to a lead on Broadway. This is a rare situation. Move that focus over to getting real credits with appropriate companies. The vast majority of us work our way up. Join us. We're loads of fun.

You'll find plenty of auditioning resources online. For instance, actors can check out the audition listings on While predominantly NYC-based, auditions taking place in other parts of the country are also posted. A quick Google search of your town theatre auditions is bound to get you some information. You can also go right to the websites of theatres in which you are interested. Check out their seasons, look at the casts (anyone with credits like yours?) and explore how to submit for auditions.

Make a habit of checking these resources on a regular basis. They change daily.

There.  You've got some work to do.  Get started and I'll be back next week with Part 2.

Thanks for Creataviting with me!

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