The summer holidays are upon us, and it’s time for some well-deserved rest! You need to make sure you make the most of that rest – we all know how full-on training can be, so it’s important to make the most of your downtime and have fun.
However, we do what we do because we love it, it’s hard when the holidays come along and you feel yourself missing that creative drive. So I’ve come up with some ways to stay creative over summer, to keep the brain engaged and ensure you’re ready to smash your studies when you return in September.
Do some Research
We’re lucky that a lot of our craft is all around us – TV shows, films, music, cast recordings, plays and interviews with actors and creatives are all at our fingertips, whether that be via TV or the internet. So, engage with them! Use some free time to watch films that interest you, read new plays, learn what makes your favourite actors tick, listen to a new musical.
Challenge yourself with materials that you wouldn’t normally reach for, but have great reviews for the acting/writing/creative. Training can become repetitive, and doing any of these activities to gain inspiration as well as for entertainment can be the reminder you need of what the training is for! Immerse yourself in our world to remind yourself why you’re a part of it.
Learn a New Skill
I used to really struggle with summer holidays, as I realised my main hobbies were singing, acting and dancing; the very things I was trying to take a break from! So learning a new skill can be a great way of staying creative, as you never know what activities may unlock a load of creativity in you.
In Lockdown (ew) I learnt to embroider – an odd hobby to choose I know, but perfect for someone who wants to bring more creativity into their routine, but can’t draw to save their life (believe me I’ve tried).
Learning a new instrument, getting arty, revamping clothes – there are hundreds of hobbies out there that will not only bring a new wave of creativity into your life but could also feed your career in the future! So that thing you’ve been thinking about trying for ages? Just give it a go already…
Take Time to Reflect
Sometimes when you’re lacking motivation, it’s hard to know why. So take some time to reflect on your work and your skills, and become an expert on your own work ethic. What do you like performing in? What’s your favourite dance style and musical genre? What genre of text makes your heart soar, and what fills it with unease?
We all have our preferences, and knowing what these preferences are can lead to a whole lot of motivation. Take me writing this blog as an example; I know that these advice-style posts are my favourite and I can write them so quickly, whereas posts that require research and proper planning? Not my favourite. Knowing this helps me plan my workday effectively, and gets me excited to get work done! Figure this out in your downtime, and you’ll be raring to go when it’s back to business.
Step Away from the Socials
I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say that I’m very good at spending too much time on Instagram and TikTok – and sometimes when we’re feeling disconnected from the outside world social media is the perfect way to beat those blues. But when you’re looking for creativity and drive, your phone can be a killer because it distracts your mind from all the good stuff with funny dog videos and yummy-looking food that you want immediately (not speaking from experience…)
So make sure to have some time away from your phone to give your brain some breathing space. Whether you use that time to read a new play, write a new play, improvise some dance in your bedroom or learn a new song, you’ll feel much more connected to your craft when you’re done.
Now I’m not suggesting you get in the gym every day and attend classes 5 times a week (unless you want to of course) because this is your downtime! But no doubt you spent a lot of time dancing, getting fit and engaging with your body during your training, and you don’t want to lose all of that before you go back.
Believe me, there’s nothing more frustrating than taking three months off and realising your body has lost the ability to function as the well-oiled performer you are… just take some time to keep your body moving and engaged. Yoga, workouts, running, dance class – anything you can do to keep your body strong and healthy is going to make you feel better about taking time out, as well as making sure going back after summer isn’t nearly as painful. (But I am NOT saying you can’t go enjoy a bottomless brunch with cocktails at the weekend too, if you know what I mean…)
Do Something Else!
This one might sound incredibly counter-productive (maybe it is), and it won’t necessarily resonate with everyone, but go and do something not performance-related at all. Chances are you might need a part-time job over summer to bring in some extra pennies, and although it may fill you with dread, sometimes working a ‘normal’ non-performance job can be just the thing you need.
Not only are you getting plenty of that all-important life experience, but I find working ‘regular’ jobs reminds me how much performing means to me and why I want it to be my career. Nothing gives me the fear more than the thought of working a 9-5 in a cafe for the rest of my life… So maybe if you’re feeling a bit stuck, go and find something completely different to do and see how that goes.
I think these might be enough tips to get you started right? Whatever ways you choose to fill your time over your summer break, make sure they make you happy and you have fun! Because at the end of the day that’s the most important thing. But, unlocking some creativity around that isn’t going to hurt either.
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Author: Charley Morgan, ICTheatre Graduate 2020