A Big Fat List of Things You Wish You'd Known at the Start Of Your Career

Selina Thompson, 11 July 2012

Kate, Stan, Selina, Hannah, Phelim, Annie and lots of other lovely people that floated in, and then floated back out.

The session began with Phelim directing us to the image

‘Nobody Tells This to People who are Beginners’

Here's the list:

1) Trust that things will happen, that your future is not a big empty hole.

2) That it is exciting! Looking back, all the new, emerging it is exciting, rather than terrifying.

3) Embrace saying ‘yes’: you are the most fearless you're going to be.

4) Get around, meet people - be nice, and enthusiastic, and excited, and you'll find your way in.

5) ‘Be Seen Around’ - make the most of your time, actively engage.

(this led to a little discussion about how we can help people who are shy, how we can help those who perhaps don't naturally put themselves out there)

6) Email people, especially when they say that they will reply. Make sure your emails are of a high quality, that they are specific to the person that you email.

7) Advantages and Disadvantages exist for all of us. Be honest about this, be honest with yourself and with others, and use the advantages that you have.

8) Don't limit yourself by predeciding how people are going to respond to you.

9) You will need support throughout your career, not just at the beginning.

10) Talking to people with experience benefits both them and you.

11) “You can't make good work with shit people” - invite people to work with you who terrify you with their talent, people who are amazing, who will threaten you and challenge you - be frightened!

12) But also, work with people who are just good, kind, lovely people. Matters as much as excellence.

13) Know why you want to work with people and make your own decisions. Don't just go off reputation.

14) Sometimes the most important conversations aren't the most significant ones, they're the little, random ones.

15) There is a chance that you might make your best work when you feel at home.

16) Everyone's got an opinion, especially when you show promise. You don't have to take everything on board - listen to yourself when something clicks and feels right.

17) Sometimes when you ask for help, people just tell you their story. They mean well, but remember…

18)… there's no such thing as right. Tune into yourself, make a decision, what you do will be the right thing, you've not got to get it right.

19) Hang out with people who believe in you, who let you find yourself.

20) Notice when people disconnect you form yourself.

21) Don't be disheartened by wrong decisions, just learn from it! Learning what not to do is as important as learning what to do.

22) Do things well - always give your best shot/100% - you never know what will happen, it's a small industry, and people know each other, they talk to each other.

23) “It took me years to realize I could go and chat to the arts council. I didn't understand them! But they're just people, and some of them are great (some of them are not)”

24)Price things properly. Often with early funding bids, people undersell, under reach - and in the long term, they shoot themselves in the foot.

25) Value yourself, and what you're doing, value what you're applying for… You deserve it!

26) Feeling like you need permission is needless - surround yourself with people hat make you feel galvanized, capable, creative.

27) When you're battling negativity, create the positive opposite and work backwards from there - creating a plan that way. So rather than saying “what if it's terrible?” Imagine what it would be like if it was brilliant, and then work from there to now.

28) Read ‘Time to Think’ by Nancy Kline

29) Support yourself, give yourself advice, step outside yourself, and notice when you're blocking yourself.

30) Listen to your inner critic, engage with it actively. When that little voice is saying “I can't do this” have a conversation with it, and get to the heart of your reservations - far more effective than trying to ignore it.

31) James Joyce's Final line of Ulysses: “Yes I will Yes”: Go for it!

32) “I could have had kids earlier” - you don't have to pick between career and your life, you can make your own way and do both.

33) You don't have to be an expert, in fact, avoid trying it when you're not - it makes you a defensive nightmare, and creates imposter syndrome. Let others help you, and take over sometimes.

34) If you haven't got much, keep it simple!

35) Audiences like free stuff. Feed them.

36) If artists approach marketing the way they approach their art, they'll never have to worry about marketing again.

37) When advertising, engage with your audiences they way that your show does.

38) No one can describe your work better than you.

39) If you work with new people Take cake.


Theatre, Stockton, Support, ARC, Advertising, Arts Council, Collaboration, Negativity, advertising, arts council, Ira Glass, performance, North East, collaboration, Arts council, support, theatre, marketing, Performance

Comments: 3

Phelim McDermott, 24 July 2012

Hi Selena!

I added the Ira Glass Video about beginning in art to your report.. I hope you like it!

Natalie Querol, 28 July 2012

Brilliant, just brilliant.

Melissa Chapin, 28 January 2013

Just so absolutely NEEDED to read this right now!

Thanks as well to Phelim for adding the Ira Glass video. 15 1/2 year anniversary of working in this field. Or something. Still feels like home. :)