You’ll find it right there in the Voice Over Dictionary:
VO Fatigue: “…a psycho/physiological syndrome exhibited by the accumulative stress and exhaustion resulting from the endless pursuit of freelance voice over success…”
We’ve all been there. The syndrome strikes irrespective of age, gender, race, time of year, time of day, or relative humidity.
Some of the obvious signs and symptoms are:
- dry mouth
- (and sometimes, hair-loss, gout, rickets, and vertigo)
I kid. But I think you get the picture, and it’s not necessarily unique to voice acting, but it IS common among those who strive to run their own business.
Everything is ultimately on YOUR shoulders. That can mean good things… like when that big fat check comes in for a long project you just completed. But more often than not, it means the strain of constantly propping-up the business with the sheer force of your will. Day after day, week after week, the success of your VO endeavour depends on you. Your energy. Your talent. Your determination. Your resourcefulness.
Unless you take some intercessory steps here ‘n’ there, the pressure of it can lead to VO Fatigue.
“… You KNOW fatigue is gonna hit you sooner or later. Plan for it. I’m serious. Write out a step-by-step escape plan, seal it in an envelope, and keep it in a safe place…”
Herewith, then, my 12+ Ways to Avoid VO Fatigue:
Walk Away Leave the premises. See a movie. Waste time in the park with your dog. You’d be surprised how much good an hour can do engaged in something mindless. Severe cases may require a coupla days…even a week. Plan for it. Then do it. Everybody needs a break, even freelancers.
Call a Friend No one is going to “get” your situation more than a trusted friend (esp. a VO friend). If a friend called you, wouldn’t you listen? Reverse the roles, and fire away. One of these days he/she will call, and you can return the favor.
Cut Your Losses Two ways this works: 1) Dump clients who pay too little, and bother you too much. 2) Unsubscribe from services that are giving you little-to-no return on your investment. Either way, be sensible and realistic. Why continue in relationships that don’t benefit your bottom line?
Maintain Your Health How many times have you heard “if you have your health, you have everything”? A strong constitution will see you through a lot of trials and troubles. Not that you should abuse it, but when you are in good shape, you can push the envelope a little more and not suffer for it. This includes getting enough sleep!
Ask for Help Chances are someone has just the answer to your quandary, or your predicament, or frustration. Like “call a friend”, there is no shame in raising a red flag and seeking assistance. Online. On the phone. Via Skype. Float a balloon, be amazed how quickly someone grabs it.
Keep a Routine Routines are funny things. On a creative day, routine can seem like a ball ‘n’ chain, but when you’ve reached of fatigue, the comfort factor of a routine can put you back on the rails. A routine adds structure that will see you through frustration.
No Excuses, No Procrastination If it gets that bad, utilize #1 above (take a walk). Put your big britches on and face the music. Like Nike, Just Do It. I’ve often convinced myself that a 5 minute hurdle is bigger than Mt. Everest. It’s not. Think through the task, and you’ll realize it’s not that bad.
Realize rejection is not personal This is HUGE in our business. What’s the saying? “audition, then forget it”. Get more coaching, sure. Improve your demo, yeah. But hand-wringing over a lost audition is wasted tears. Move on.
Have a Strategy for Eventuality You KNOW fatigue is gonna hit you sooner or later. Plan for it. I’m serious. Write out a step-by-step escape plan, seal it in an envelope, and keep it in a safe place. When the gremlins get to be too much…break open the envelope, and follow your plan to the letter.
Curry Non-VO friendships Not that voice actors aren’t the most charming people in the world, but balance is a good thing. Don’t neglect old friendships from school or an earlier career, or even the next-door-neighbor who re-upholsters furniture for a living. It helps you to put things in perspective.
Get One Thing Done It can be really small. Just do it, and do it right. Take a moment to revel in the instant of the achievement, then maybe tackle something a little harder. We all want a “win”. Parlay one win into another.
Take a Social Media Break (or watch mindless TV) You’ll soon realize one of two things: 1) Everyone else’s troubles are worse than yours 2) The world is a crazy place, and you have more than earned your place in it. A half-hour on FaceBook or Twitter will usually shake you out of your blues.
HONORABLE MENTION: Laughter really is the best medicine When I least wanted to, my daughter used to call to me to come and see something. It was usually stupid cat videos on YouTube, but I gotta admit, the chuckle (or belly-laugh) it gave me brought me out of my funk. Keep good humor, and spread good humor. Making others laugh is magical.
|AUTHOR NOTE: this evergreen blog article is more worthy now than ever. I’m having my worst VO year EVAR in terms of revenue. Add to that the pandemic, the political craziness, and (the tipping point) A.I. voices… and you’ve got the perfect storm of anxiety.
I’d quit, but I’m in too deep. ‘Know the feeling? Luckily, I have a full-time job sustaining me in TV News, but make no mistake THAT arena is being struck by all the same challenges and then some.
It’s a great time to hold your family and friends close, and hold your own sanity even closer|