Today, we met up with a freelance narrator from Exeter who works in much the same way we do. It got me thinking about the nature of what we do, both as independent audiobook producers and as freelance narrators.
Our work is, by its nature, isolating. I’m either in front of the microphone, narrating, or in headphones editing my sound files. Although it’s fun, it’s not the most social of jobs! It also doesn’t give me much opportunity to listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts while I work. After an editing session, I’m quite happy to take off the headphones and enjoy some silence for a while.
We have regular staff meetings, where we get together, rather than chatting online, and I always find that this is really good for recharging my batteries and enthusiasm. I’m not the best at self-care. I work very long hours, most of which are in isolation. That’s why I always notice a significant uplift in my mood after a social event. It was the uplift I experienced today which made me think about how I work.
It’s easy to get immersed in your job, isn’t it, especially when you’re self-employed? That’s why it’s imperative that you set aside some time for yourself. Put down the headphones and step away from your work environment for a while. Find other creatives in a similar line of work and spend some time just talking. When you have a rather unusual job with few peers locally, it’s so lovely to meet someone who does something similar and with whom you can share information, moans, successes, concerns, advice and ideas.
At Circle of Spears, we always try to have some downtime during December, with varying degrees of success depending on what we’re working on. Our most recent audio title, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Tales of the Apt: Spoils of War was released at the end of November and we had arranged the remaining projects so that December is completely clear apart from marketing and any admin. I’ve already noticed the difference and have resolved to plan my working week more carefully from January onwards so I can factor in more downtime and take better care of myself. After all, I wouldn’t be able to complete many projects if I was ill…
So be kind to yourself. Find someone to chat to, either online or in person. Nurture your creative spark and keep it alive. Fresh ideas are vital for maintaining your enthusiasm for the work, as well as encouraging you to look objectively at what you do and how you could improve it. But don’t just focus on the output; focus on yourself and how to make your work environment as pleasant as possible. Stay hydrated! Join organisations which support people in your line of work. And – most importantly – PLEASE ask for help if you need it.