Avoiding Burnout in Voice-Over

Like most any other career, burnout can come for even the most enthusiastic of voice-over artists. Feeling overworked and exhausted, apathetic towards parts of your day that used to excite you, or even like you’ve hit a wall in terms of your own growth can happen to any actor. When you start to get that feeling of burnout creeping in, it’s important to stop and reassess your current work habits and think about how they can be improved. Most importantly, burnout calls for some self-care!
The things that tend to cause me burnout as a full-time voice-over actress are:

  1. Long days/weeks of auditioning without booking anything.
  2. Long-term audiobook or e-learning projects, especially when it’s a topic that doesn’t interest me at all!
  3. Seeing other voice actors’ snowballing success on social media – especially when they’re younger than me! 
  4. ACTUALLY burning up in the studio during the hot summer months.

My advice for any and all of these issues you might face is to take breaks! If you’re losing your love of voice acting, it’s probably just time to rest. Sometimes it can feel awkward or difficult to take vacations when you’re your own boss. Like with any office job, be sure to give yourself some vacation time! Try not to work seven days per week and enjoy  a holiday here and there so that you don’t feel that your entire life is spent in the confines of your home studio. 

On that note, when you are taking a break, do things you enjoy! Get out in nature or exercise, read, write, paint, or spend time with loved ones – but don’t spend it dwelling on past auditions or worrying about your next gig. Rejuvenate yourself in whatever way works best for you.

If you’re struggling with a long stint of auditioning or contacting potential clients without seeing much return, my advice would be to spend a bit of time practicing voice work that does excite you. 

Even if it’s just for yourself, sometimes a bit of professional development can help reinvigorate your confidence! For example, if you love animation – read some silly scripts that you enjoy and practice some new funky voices! That audio doesn’t need to be sent out anywhere, but it’s good practice for you and it’s FUN. For me, finding enjoyment in a script helps refresh me when I’ve spent weeks auditioning for projects that might be a little more boring. 

Take care of yourself!

At the end of the day, you’ve got to fall in love with the act of auditioning in this type of career. But even if your auditions aren’t showing immediate returns, there’s still so much value in the habit of doing them. You’re practicing, expanding your abilities, discovering new facets of the industry and learning about how far you can flex your skills. It will pay off – be patient! 

If you are booked on a project like an audiobook or a lengthy e-learning, sometimes that content can start to burn you out. (I’m actually in this boat right now!). While I’m working on audiobooks that maybe aren’t something I’d normally choose to read, and I start to feel bored or exhausted with the repetition of being in the booth for hours a day, it’s important once again to take frequent breaks. I like to give myself small rewards – if I read through five chapters, I can take a 30 minute break for snacks and TV. It’s important to take breaks on these longer projects so that your voice stays fresh and full of energy! 

I also like to pick favorite characters in the books I’m reading. I’ll find a side character or two that I give a particularly funny or challenging voice to, and I’ll read the book feeling excited for that character to show up again. It really does help me bring life into what I’m reading! 

Social media can be EXHAUSTING. I love Twitter, for example – I keep up with a lot of my peers in the industry, follow other actors that inspire me, try interacting with casting directors and studios that tend to offer great advice online, and more. But sometimes I need to log off. Social media can start to feel like a winner’s circle. When I see my peers posting about huge new roles they’ve booked, sometimes I can start to feel down on myself. It’s important to remember that social media isn’t a good representation of real life. While it’s good to support and be happy for other actors, what I’m not seeing on Twitter is the amount of hours someone may have spent auditioning and getting rejections before finally catching a big break. 

If social media makes you feel burnt out or less successful than other actors, then it’s time to turn it off. Maybe even delete the app! Everyone in this career works at their own pace. Someone might only be jumping into this career in retirement – they shouldn’t compare themselves to a 30-something year old that’s been grinding out auditions for years. It doesn’t change my value as an actor if someone else is having their big break. Please remember this!

Sometimes burnout is a bit more literal! As we finally drop into Fall temperatures here in Boston, I realize how exhausting it was to record all summer. Those home studios can get toasty. That literal burnout can also lead to metaphorical burnout for me! I would dread going in to record every day knowing I’d be drenched in sweat by the first audition. Please drink lots of water, drape a cold wet washcloth over your shoulders, and maybe even bring in an ice pack to keep you (and your computer) cool!

If I haven’t said it enough, if you’re feeling burnout, your first action should be to take a break! Please take care of yourself, spend time doing things you love that reinvigorate you. Stay hydrated. And dedicate time to the parts of voice-over work that you love the most!

Check out our free PDF with pro-tips from real working voice-over actors here!

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