We all find reasons to procrastinate. And practice is very easy to put off.
Here are six practical ways to get over the stumbling blocks that may keep you from practicing every day.
1. “I can’t find a quiet place to practice.”
For practice, background noise is okay. (It’s just not okay for auditions and real jobs.
So if it’s too loud where you live:
* practice in a room at a local community center, * ask your health club if you can use their sales office, * work in a classroom after school has let out . . . * even practice VO in the shower instead of singing!
At Edge Studio, people have told us they practice in their car or minivan (quiet, sound absorbent, comfortable). Some in their closets.
One guy even told us, “I stand in my bedroom and speak into my wife’s pants, as that prevents echo.”
Does practicing with others around make you feel self-conscious? It shouldn’t.
You’re a professional, doing what a professional does. Others respect that, even if they don’t fully understand.
And if you’re still self-conscious, consider the guy with the pants.
2. “I’m new at this and not sure how or what to practice.”
Practice at least 15 minutes a day, every day, reading not just the kind of VO material you specialize in, but also other copy to prevent monotony and help break you out of bad habits.
Even read your junk mail – there’s a steady supply, it’s a daily cue, and if you can make it sound real, you’re doing well.
Very important: record yourself and listen back with a critical ear.
For practice, almost any mic and recorder will do. But if your recorder’s not handy, get your daily practice in anyway.
3. “I’m not a beginner anymore. I don’t need to practice.”
Granted, Mel Torme and Elvis didn’t sing in the shower or hum to pass the time (so it’s said). But they sang virtually every day, no doubt.
A-Rod didn’t hit all those homers without ongoing practice, either.
You, too, should perform every day.
Obviously, an actual gig is not the time to warm up, flex your pipes, and spot ruts and bad habits you may have developed.
Every pro, no matter how experienced, benefits by keeping in shape and improving or broadening their capabilities. Regardless of your experience level, you need to practice.
4. “I don’t have time to practice.”
Oh? How do you find time to perform?
Make practice time a routine part of your business day, because that’s what your VO career is – a business.
Time of day doesn’t matter, but you might take a cue from novelists and other creative writers. Many of them get up relatively early and write for an hour before the day “really” begins.
Or they write from 9 till noon then call it a day.
The good news is, your practice doesn’t need to require three hours, nor even one hour. Even a few minutes a day can have a dramatic effect if you’re consistent.
5. “I’m just not the consistent, regimented type.”
That’s not unusual. Okay, practice when you can. But don’t put it off.
Here’s a trick: you undoubtedly have several “what should I do next” moments in your day. Make VO practice your standard answer.
Then, just do it.
Finding some sort of “trigger” is the way to overcome procrastination, lethargy, or laziness. Like physical exercise, once you get in the good habit of practicing daily, you’ll find it much, much easier to remember it and do it. And you’ll enjoy it more.
6. “Sorry, there always seems something more interesting or more important to do.”
Ain’t it the truth. It might be a day job, kids, unforeseen circumstances, anything.
But it’s either a daily occurrence that you can schedule around, or a temporary situation you will come back from.
If fitting practice into your schedule is still difficult, make a list. Write your schedule down.
Think of yourself as a business. Running a business involves certain responsibilities, not all of them fun.
The good news? Voice over practice is a LOT more fun than many of the professional responsibilities most other people have! And if you ever doubt its importance, listen to some of your old practice recordings.
I guarantee, if you’ve applied yourself in regular daily practice, you’ll sound better today.
Have you found a practice technique that might help others? Let us know!