For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I occasionally tweet about my training for an up-coming marathon. I was recently perusing a runners forum for advice for first-time marathoners, and I stumbled upon a question posed to the forum that still has me wondering, What is with people? The person asked something along the lines of:
"I just started running this year, but I smoke. I'm training for my first marathon, and I'm wondering if any of you endurance athletes also smoke? Any advice on how I can run without quitting?"
After my giggles subsided and I read further, I realized the person was for real! Not only did this person just start running this year, but he/she wants to go from a lifestyle of running zero miles a week to maybe 40 miles a week in a few short months ... while smoking.
You'll find people with the "I have a limitation and no experience, but I want to go all the way in a very short period of time" mentality in all areas of life. Applying the same psychology to those in voice-over training, the go get 'em attitude can actually take a person a long way.
... As long as they know their starting point. I think of the long-term heavy smokers who can't read more than a few sentences without wheezing. Being a voice-over artist means taking care of those pipes! Mel Allen swears that voice-over artists are frequently advised to smoke to develop a dynamic quality, but the thought of intentionally destroying your instrument, not to mention the rest of your body, deeply disturbs me!
Knowing your starting point from a realistic perspective will keep your expectations in check. If you are new to voice-over training, figure out what your limitation is. Some are challenged by dyslexia or another reading disability. If this is you, it certainly doesn't mean you should not continue! Take it in stride, and address the problem early on. Some of our own voice-over artists admit they had to go to speech therapy as a child. Others might be "technologically challenged" or not have the slightest clue about how marketing works. These, too, are hurdles that can be over-come.
Set realistic goals for yourself, and reach those benchmarks. Instead of trying to run a marathon while smoking, make a realistic plan based on your starting point. Get a solid foundation of voice-over technique, and never think that you are the one exception in voice-over history who doesn't need an ounce of help. Ostensibly, you are scaling back your efforts, but what you are actually doing is preparing yourself to succeed in voice-over work in the long run ... get it, get it?!