Twice. Twice this year I’ve become ill due to overworking myself. That’s two times too many in my book.
I love gigging and I’ve been doing 3-5 a week for most of this year. 99% of the people I bump into haven’t done a quarter of the gigs I’ve done.
It’s true it’s not about the number, it’s how much you’re learning from them – to put it bluntly I can do 400 open mic 5 minute spots in a year, but learn very little from it.
The problem is, most of the “better” gigs (in terms of audience and length of set) have come from the indie promoter seeing me at an open mic gig (usually doing 5 minutes of new jokes, which is a compliment if anything because these sets tend to be half formed and I am still not confident in the way I am presenting it).
A comedian recently met me at a gig and said he’s never seen me do the same set twice. I felt rather happy about this. Given we gig together about 6-8 times a year he happens to collide with me as I am doing new material.
The problem with the aggressive gigging schedule means you say goodbye to a lot of other things people take for granted – friends / relationships / personal health and hygiene.
So, as of two weeks ago I decided to make some personal changes. I massively dislike people bragging about going to the gym on Facebook, so I thought if I blog about it, and don’t start the blog with what I am doing, by this point I am pretty much cutting down the audience to people who might be interested in what I’ve done.
This blog is not a humble brag, it’s a personal letter to myself to remind myself of the deal I’ve made with myself. Coupled with the social pressure of believing everyone (yes, all 11 of you on average according to Google Analytics) have read it means I have to stick to it.
Changes I have made / are working on (in no particular order) –
Unless there’s a good reason for it (paid work / good or progression gig): 3 gigs per week. But I will make sure I have 3 in the calendar every week.
Practice / taking gigs more seriously: I’ve found rehearsing and learning words a bit more of a chore recently. But I figure if I set aside time every week to do it I’ll get into a routine and muscle memory will take over. I am also going to start to take gigs more seriously. If I have 5 in a week I often forget that to some of the audience it’s their night out for the week, maybe even the month and now is a good time to step it up a bit.
Writing: I will continue to dedicate time every day to writing, but try to make it more productive that I currently do (at the moment I start by writing a thing and end up working on 3 or 4 one liner Tweets. Nice writing practice, but it’s not helping me get to where I want to be offline).
Diet: I am going to start to cook things that don’t involve a microwave. I am also going to start to try and to eat more (or just some) vegetables. Additionally at the start of this project I cut back the number of energy drinks I was consuming (I’ve gone from 7 or 8 a week to 2. This doesn’t sound like much, but it really is. For the 3 days after I went cold turkey I felt like a junkie who was crashing. I had to see the doctor for other health reasons and he said that the sugar / caffeine etc in my system is what’s draining you. You can’t have a massive can of sugar everyday for breakfast and expect it to be ok when you stop…)
Health: I am running for up to an hour a day (when not gigging) without fail. I am not fat so to speak, but I am not in good shape or health by anyone’s standards. I get sweaty easily and, although I don’t feel it until I stop, I get out of breath after power walking across platforms /stations / escalators / stairs on my way to work and the number of times I’ve just made my connection home at Kings Cross and subsequently spent the journey trying to catch my breath is shocking. As a result, I want to improve on that and work towards maybe doing something for a charity once I am fit enough (look out 3022).
Reading: My eyes are bad. I now wear glasses. Glasses that I arguably should have started wearing sooner (the world was blurry and the optician said I would be uninsured without them). Most of this is due to living my life through a series of screens. I almost purchased a Kindle at one point late last year. Glad I didn’t. Mainly because I love physical books, but also because it would be a waste of money now as I attempt to read for an hour everyday to get off the computer and learn something new. I have two books on order from Amazon, one for before bed: Happy Like Murderers, one for the train to work: Warm Bodies.
Friends: I want to see more of them. I’ve booked to see some shows in July / September (August is a write off for me). But I’ve been a bit of a bad friend in general.
Day job: I am working hard at my day job – I really do love it. We’re at a pivotal point when a lot of things within the community’s content are about to change and I am quite excited about it. So I’ll continue to work hard and hopefully the contract will get extended beyond Edinburgh.
Side project one – Comedy Map: I want to work harder at this project. It’s going well so far, but feel there are tons of little local communities that would benefit from it. There was a partner site that was interested in putting it behind a paywall that I had a few reservations and objections to, so we’ve decided to help each other in different ways whereby I can keep the map free.
Side project two – 2nd book: The first book I wrote has been signed off and I hope will be out soon… I just got my copy of their signed contract through about a week ago. I’ve had an idea for another one. Given that it’s nearly impossible to get a publisher interested in an author with no background in writing I am going to do what I did last time and write it in the knowledge I am doing it as a way of practicing putting a book together and once I am happy with it, pitching it at the publishers. By that point the first one should be out and I’ll have some numbers / sales figures to offer in my pitch. As for now this one is low on my list of things to do and as a result has no deadline (which to me means it’s basically a non-project for now).
I figure the best material comes from life and living, so by only performing / writing I am actually making this job harder. Additionally, I feel the need to do more than one project at the moment. Some people have podcasts, I have the above.
The thing I like about all of these challenges / projects is they’re completely down to me. Very little involve other people, which puts pressure on me and avoids the likelihood of them ditching the project half way or getting distracted by their own things. Challenge Accepted.