In this blog post, Victoria Firth reflects on her experience of writing, performing, producing & touring her one-woman show How To Be Amazingly Happy! and expels invaluable advice on how to genuinely take care of yourself when doing it all yourself.
You can catch the show here Friday 17 – Saturday 18 January. Click here to find out more.
Self-care is being talked about all over theatre town but what does it actually mean?
For me I think about snuggly blankets, eating greens, sleeping well and (probably) exercising – and all that definitely helps. But self-care is a very personal business. It’s about knowing what you need to do to take care of your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and creative self – and taking that seriously is probably the first step.
Over the last two years, I’ve been writing, performing, producing and touring a one-woman autobiographical show and even though everyone told me how hard it would be, it still took me by surprise. Here are a few things I’ve started to clock along my way which I hope might help you to think about what you need along your way…
- You have to be shit. You can’t ever be good or get better at something without being shit first. All the brilliant artists have the same feelings about being shit like you do. Making mistakes and figuring things out is an essential and inescapable bit of every process. So as hard as it might be, don’t let the earworm about being shit stop you doing anything. The doing it means you are already on the way to being better.
- Set your own measures of success. It’s very easy to compare and think that other people get better reviews, sell more tickets, have more followers, have better hair etc.. Think about what you want to achieve in each particular project, what your creative goals are, what you want to say to an audience and use that as your compass.
- Don’t be afraid to ask – for help, for favours, for information. All the artists I have asked have been extremely generous and encouraging. Venues are there to support you and they need interesting work. Research what you can first – there’s a wealth of information online and then knock on doors for what you need. Also don’t take it personally if people don’t reply. It isn’t any reflection on you. They are just having their own nightmare days.
- What you can do is enough. When you are self-promoting you can always hand out more flyers, send more emails, do another tweet. But even if you’re the artist version of The Terminator there is always more you could do. Let yourself off the hook when you need a break or need to unplug for a while. You are the talent that you need to look after. Sometimes it’s good to change gear. Sometimes it’s productive to have a rest.
- Know your cheerleaders. Who can you ask to tell you you are brilliant on the days you feel wobbly? Or for feedback in the way you want it? I don’t think I have ever been more vulnerable than when trying to make work that matters and being freelance can feel solitary so you need back up. Keep all the nice things people have ever said about you and your work on your phone, in a notebook, on your fridge door – wherever you can see it when you need it.
That’s my top five but it’s just the start of the story. Why not give yourself the gift of time to think about, and action, yours. I know you’re worth it x
Victoria Firth is a performer and theatre maker from Yorkshire. Her show ‘How to be amazingly happy!’ is on at Camden People’s Theatre this Friday 17th and Saturday 18th January at 9pm and then touring. You can find out more at www.victoriafirth.co.uk or follow her on twitter and instagram as @msvhf and on facebook as @msvictoriafirth.