How to Be Creative When You’re Not in Work

Deal with the down time and rediscover your creativity with our guide on how to be creative when you're not in work

Being a performer guarantees one thing: total uncertainty. It’s hard to know when the next job is coming your way, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still the creative and passionate performer you know yourself to be. Being without work is hard for most people, regardless of the career they choose. So here are our tips for keeping those creative juices going for when it's been a little while between gigs...

Engage in positive self talk

Remember that your creativity is a part of you, no matter when you had your last audition. It’s good to articulate this to yourself, and to think through what makes you feel creative - what are the kinds of things you like to creatively do, other than perform? This could be all kinds of things - cooking, painting, sewing, playing an instrument, singing… the list is endless. A lot of these activities can become forms of creative expression that help keep you in the zone between gigs. And if you’re keen to hear more about another actor’s experience on managing the uncertainty, take a look at this great piece from Katie Redford.

Find a new hobby

If you’re feeling a bit stale and uninspired in your creative realm, what better way to get into gear than to think about something totally new? Finding a new activity or hobby that allows you to creatively express yourself is an excellent way to turn up the volume on your creativity between jobs. You might consider a new kind of dance class, join a choir, buy some paints, learn to crochet, or indeed anything that gets your heart racing again with excitement. Show yourself some compassion and don’t judge what it is you choose to give this time to - it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare at all times or bust!

Get outside and get inspired

Instead of hammering away at one kind of creative project or pursuit, it might be better to take a break - from the play you’re reading, the notebook containing your one-woman show, or whatever else is starting to drain. Getting back to nature and going for a walk can be a great way to let your mind recuperate. Removing yourself from your everyday environment for a time helps to reset, and you’ll return with a new perspective. So whether it’s a trip abroad or a new route home from the tube station, there’s something on budget for everyone.

Explore new techniques

Whether you’ve had training or not, acted for ages or only a few months, there’s always room to explore new techniques within your craft. You might want to explore LeCoq techniques, Laban, or try your hand at puppetry. Spotlight hold events and workshops in London and across the country throughout the year that are free for members, else you can always read up on how to make work, try your hand at comedy, or learn more of those essential soft skills that make any performer into a professional.

Start writing

After all, if the perfect part hasn’t come along yet, why not write it yourself? Read Kieran Knowles’ account of how writing helped with his performing. He says:

With a group of friends and fellow graduates, we started to toss about the idea of writing a play where we could each play a dynamic human, with backstories and hopes, dreams, wishes and objectives, just as we’d trained to do. Not as a showcase, but as a credit, a chance to prove to ourselves that we could do something if we just went for it.
Kieran Knowles

Kieran’s experience here says it all; when you’re not in a role, it is important to remind yourself that you can do this. You’re a creative person with ideas and you can go out and create, without the help or input of someone with a job to hand out to you. Once you’ve written something, why not find a place to rehearse it? Or look into directing the piece yourself?

The reality is that there are way more actors than parts to fill, so make sure you are keeping your creative talents warm and take down time between jobs as a chance to make some of your own work. It’s a great way to explore your craft, add a parallel talent and pursue your career at the same time.

Get your acting kit in order

Between jobs is the perfect time to get the headshot, CV and showreel or voicereel up to date - all the essentials of every actor’s kit. Have a more in depth look at how to make your own showreel, and what casting directors want to see. If you’ve been flirting with the idea of getting into voice work, it might be time to investigate how to set up your own home studio. For all your headshot or showreel needs, or any other industry professionals you might be looking for, Contacts is a great first stop.

On another note, Spotlight has been working with the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed to secure our members access to private health insurance, a pension scheme, tax and legal helplines, and more. So if you’ve got the time, this is the perfect opportunity to get yourself set up for the long term and take a look at the offer in more detail (accessible from your performer homepage!).

Getting your (acting) admin in order is a great way to remain productive between jobs, and will free you up for when inspiration and creativity are really required - and mean you are totally ready for when that next job appears!