I received a very nice email over the weekend from someone who has been reading this blog for a little while. Someone who wanted to offer a word of thanks. It was truly a blessing to read.
The writer also mentioned being pretty early in the process of becoming a voice actor and commented that it was hard being patient, because of a strong desire to move forward quickly.
That comment triggered something in my mind, so I wrote back with some comments about patience. I’m not identifying my correspondent in this case, because I didn’t ask permission to quote anything that was said to me. However, what’s below is my reply, plus a bit of editing and clarification, and thus needs only my own permission to post.
Patience is indeed vitally important. I grew up on a farm in Minnesota. I think there’s a strong parallel between farming and voiceover work. You begin with preparation. You can’t just dash out into the fields in the spring and throw a bunch of seed around and expect to get a decent harvest. The soil has to be prepared, broken up and smoothed out. After that, you plant the seeds. And then you wait a while. Then you cultivate. Fertilize. Cultivate some more. And then there’s more waiting. The seeds don’t germinate, sprout, grow and yield a harvest in a day or even several days. It takes months of careful attention and cultivation and only then do you get to reap the harvest.
I don’t know exactly where you are on your voiceover journey. You may be just starting to explore this whole field. You may be a working professional. Or somewhere in between. Whatever the case, I’m sure you have to deal with this matter of patience. I certainly do.
If you’re new, you do because you want to see things get started. You want to start doing the work. What you don’t realize yet is that most of the time, even after you’re well established and working, you’re going to be preparing, marketing, looking for work. (Harlan Hogan said in his presentation at Dan O’Day’s Summit a couple of years ago that 98% of the time is spent looking for work and only 2% is actually spent in the studio doing it.)
If you’re a working professional, at whatever level, you have to deal with it too. Maybe it’s wanting to break through to a new level of the business. Maybe it’s getting into a different field of work. Animation. Trailers. Audiobooks. Network promos. ADR. The list is nearly endless.
In every case, there’s a whole lot of tilling, planting, and cultivating involved. None of it is fun. At least not in the traditional sense of the word. But, it’s all necessary to get you where you want to go. I don’t like it either. But, the harvest makes it worth the wait and the effort.
There are two differences between farming and voiceover work, though. The first is that you can prepare, sow, cultivate and harvest at any time of year. You don’t have to wait for spring to plant or fall or harvest.
The second is that, even at its hardest, voiceover work is a whole lot easier than working for a living.