Most creators don’t start working on a project without going through some sort of planning phase. Even those who write by the seat of their pants will have a handful of ideas, a genre, a target audience, and maybe a target word length in mind when they sit down to work. Some creators will even (deliberately or accidentally) use the planning phase to delay the phase of actually making the thing. But eventually, work begins on the project.
As a writer, this is the terrifying rough draft phase, complete with research periods, outline revisions as ideas change and grow, and however many false starts it takes to get through it. Ideally, this phase is nothing but writing, reading over notes to know where you’re headed next, and reading over the last page or so to get into the day’s writing, but some writers just can’t help themselves and edit bits and pieces as they go. (This way lies a lot of madness. We all do it at some point, but still… Use your planning phase wisely and with your own process in mind.)
As a voice actor, this is the hours of just sitting down at the mic, performing, and trying to not get into a rut. In my case, I’m often sitting there hoping like anything I’m not screwing everything up. (It’s been nearly five years, and I still haven’t really found my confidence as a voice actor. I’m told this is not unusual.) This phase is ideally characterized by just recording and then listening back to make sure you got everything correct word-wise, but it’s really hard when you realize you’ve changed a major character’s voice in a major, non-defensible way (like the character aging over the course of the project or suffering a major change within the story). But for reasons unknown, I find it much easier to stay on target with recording than with writing.
I say that I struggle with faith in my work while I’m recording, but that’s not entirely true. I doubt myself when I’m writing, too. Even when things are going well, I have give myself pep talks, remind myself that I’ve been doing this craft for a while now, and that I wouldn’t be doing it if I couldn’t do it. While my writing work is almost exclusively personal, my voiceover work tends to be for others and then I can remind myself that someone else picked me to do this work because they thought I could do it and do it well. It’s not my own arrogance at play like it is with my writing.
I bring this up because those moments of self-doubt can really hinder your work while you’re in creation mode, and I want you to know that no matter how long you’ve been doing something, it’s normal as a creator to have those little moments, and to acknowledge them and then continue on with your work. You wouldn’t be doing it if you couldn’t.
All right, next time we leave the scary seas of creating to the even scarier seas of editing.