What Actors and Authors Have in Common

Writing is a Personal JourneyI was watching Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show when it struck me. Jimmy greeted the actor with a cheek-to-cheek kiss, before ushering her to the comfy studio couch so they could share a cup and a chat.

After some banter about a recent encounter they’d had at the party of a mutual friend, they discussed some morsels about their personal lives, focusing on commonalities they shared. Then they got to the real reason for the staged visit.

Fallon gushed, as he introduced the new movie title. “Gosh, it’s so, so good. I just love it. I mean when you… Oops. I almost spoiled it, but it’s just that good.”

Listen So Others SpeakThe actor giggled. “Thanks, Jimmy. I was honored to play this role, I know I’m supposed to say I love it too, but I really mean it. This is probably my favorite project so far. I only hope the people who watch it are touched as much as I was making the film.” She raised her hands in the global prayer pose symbolizing humility.

As I watched their interchange, I reflected on other shows I’d seen her on, and her other movies. It seemed every year she was cast in a new release, some blockbusters, some with a cooler audience embrace. That’s when it hit me — how similar a successful author’s experience is to that of an actor.

My third published book just released, and as I promote it, pursue the next big project, while juggling my personal life in the process, I realize the importance of strategic planning. I wish I had the resources, connections, and energy of a Hollywood public relations machine behind me, but even without, I can learn from their methods.

7 Common Factors Between Actors and Authors:

  • Getting Through What You Can't Get OverThe actors are the face of the movie, so no matter what anyone else does behind the scenes, it is the actor who must make public appearances and visit shows on the interview circuit. An actor’s passionate voice, joined with an intriguing movie trailer, is what drives audiences to theaters and streaming sites. For authors, it’s no different. We are the face of our books. Our passionate voice about our message, mingled with intrigue about our book’s content, is what drives readers to want to know more.
  • Each actor brings their own distinct personality to promotion. Some outgoing and bubbly, some serious and reflective. Both work, they will simply attract those of similar taste. Be who you are as an author, and allow natural attraction to draw people.
  • A fresh movie release shifts the actor’s focus to a new message. As authors, I think hearing the branding mantra sometimes makes us sound stale and boring — think broken record. Personally, I believe it’s not only acceptable, but interesting, if we moderately mix up our messages, while staying true to who we are.
  • Getting Through What You Can't Get Over EndorsementA good actor hunts for new scripts and contracts — sometimes preparing for years before they can make a movie they are excited about. Successful authors should do no less. Keep your ears open for hot topics, and drop ideas, research information, quotes, and more for future books into a program like Scrivener — Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over started this way.
  • Most actors would prefer to spend more time on their craft than on marketing, and many authors feel the same. However, actors and authors both know that without solid marketing, we won’t get the opportunity to do another new project.
  • No matter how many shows an actor guests on, if the movie is lousy, sales will spiral. The same is true of our books. We can’t get around it. Good content is, and always will be, the marketing king.
  • Actors cannot produce inspiring art alone. They require support people like agents, fellow actors, experts in PR, producers, directors, etc. Authors also need a group like this to expand their message reach.

The more I reflect on what it takes to release a successful movie, the more I see the connection to releasing successful books. The Hollywood model has worked for decades, which tells me that as much as things are changing, some things stay the same.

What commonalities between actors and authors do you see that I failed to mention?

 

 

 

Motivating an Unmotivated Writer

Writing Quote E.B. White I’m going through one of those seasons of life where I’m not feeling motivated. My mind could go in either one of two directions. I could wallow and give up — allowing myself to succumb to fatigue, discouragement, and fear due to circumstances beyond my control. Or I could remind myself that I am an author, and as such, absolutely everything is potential writing fodder. I’m choosing the latter.

Writing is Harder for a WriterTo maintain any productivity, my way of putting words on the page has changed over the past month. For instance, instead of scheduling hours at a time for writing, I’m snatching snippets and seconds. Scrivener is my friend, as I drop ideas, research links, and summaries of real-time happenings for anecdotal use into project files. Life has required I do things differently, but I refuse to let it stop me.

Writing the WorstI’m also offering myself an extra dose of patience and forgiveness. If I expend emotional energy on unreasonable expectations and unhealthy guilt, I will pay for it in wasted physical and mental energy. It’s taken me years to learn this about myself, but now that I know it, I can approach writing with a healthier perspective.

Writing Quote by Stephen KingAnother motivational boost comes from reminding myself that I am a professional. This means I don’t just think about writing, dream about writing, or talk about writing — I do it. A professional writer puts the same integrity, (doing the right thing whether anyone else can see or hear them or not), into their craft as the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. I refuse to be the amateur Stephen King talks about.

Writing What Others Can't SayMy past and present circumstances are more than writing fodder, they are also qualifiers. My unique experiences qualify me to speak about subjects, while my role as a professional writer enables me to say what others cannot due to willingness or ability. This is why writing is both privilege and responsibility. This thought alone motivates me to action when I feel unmotivated.

In speaking with many of my author friends, I find I’m not the only one who needs the occasional reminder to move my fingers across the keyboard when I feel like pushing buttons on the remote. The truth is, writing is hard under ideal conditions, but it can feel excruciating when life batters you with tough situations. This is where my writing mettle is tested.

  • Am I serious?
  • Will I resolve to follow through no matter what?
  • Can I motivate myself when I’d most like to bury myself in bed and pull the covers over my head?

Writer at WorkThe answer is yes. After all, I am a professional. And professional authors get to work — one intentional word at a time.

Does your writing come easy, or do you require a motivational push to do the daily word grind?