Actors and writers, a mixed breed

I might have mentioned at some point on the blog that I was a child actress. It’s a part of my past I don’t talk about all that much, but I started auditioning when I was eight and worked pretty steadily until I was almost eighteen. Sometimes it feels like another life, it was so long ago now, but I was a professional actress in commercials, films, on stage, and I was even on a soap opera for a year. During that time, I had the opportunity to work with many great actors, some of whom have gone on to write books (I would love to sign up a client from my acting days, and recently had coffee with a woman I auditioned with when we were kids!). One of those actors is Andrew McCarthy. We did a cute television film together called The Beniker Gang. I think you can still occasionally find it on cable somewhere.

I was happy to see that Andrew has gone on to become a prominent and well-regarded travel writer in his older adult years. He also published a critically acclaimed travel memoir in 2012 called The Longest Way Home. So when I saw this article with him doling out writing advice on Writer’s Digest, I thought it was worth sharing.

There are a couple of reasons I wanted to pass this on. First, he offers some solid suggestions for looking at the world through a creative and unique lens. And the advice he dispenses for travel writers is more widely applicable for any genre. Ideas like find your hook in the details, and focus on storytelling, are useful tips.

But more broadly, I like the emphasis on seeing where creativity can take us. Actors and writers have a lot in common. They hone their craft with the intention of engaging an audience, whether it’s a live audience at the theater, or a person curled up on their couch enjoying a good book. The goal is to enlighten, entertain, and elicit a reaction or feeling of engagement from the audience or reader. So, even though it’s been years since Andrew McCarthy and I worked together in a film, we still have a lot in common in our publishing careers. He tells stories, and I sell those stories with the purpose of sharing ideas with others. We’ve found a creative process that works for us.

My takeaway of this is that we should all listen to our inner creative voice, and be willing to go wherever it might lead us. What other outlets do you explore that help to keep your creative juices flowing?

7 Responses to Actors and writers, a mixed breed

  1. I might have to have my 9 year old talk to you. She wants to be an actress. She auditioned for community theater here and was cast in four roles. I’m pretty sure she rocked her audition. She’s a natural. We’ll have to talk one day …
    I’m going to schedule a Stacey Glick movie night. I’ll have to invite Bethany and Kimberly, too!
    : )

  2. Joelle says:

    My BA is in theatre and I have worked off and on as an actress throughout my adult life. I don’t really see much difference between it and writing. They’re woven together in my life. Especially my training in Chicago in improvisation and my studies in directing theatre (because dissecting a script is a very useful tool to have in your belt if you’re writing a novel).

    I’m not sure about writing for adults, but it seems like there are a LOT of former theatre people writing for kids. Maybe we never grow up.

  3. Jenny Boodro says:

    I loved Andrew McCarthy’s writing tips, especially on walking the territory. I can relate to that from a setting-as-character perspective. I also find that as a fiction writer, moving helps ideas flow in a way staring at a computer screen just can’t. When I’m stuck, I go for a run, and without fail I find myself pulling out my iPod and furiously typing a sentence that finally came together, or the way I want a scene to end.

    Thanks for posting the link!

  4. Lynn says:

    As an artist and a musician, I do have a number of outlets, but I swear my most creative moments come while I’m in the shower! Don’t ask me why, but the ideas flow as much as the water.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh Stacey,

    This strikes such a chord that I’m gonna need to “be with” it a bit. My husband (Robert Hooks) and I (both actors) are with Jane for his memoir, so we’ve been using (and searching for more of) the commonalities A LOT lately.

    Another parallel occurs to me. My acting mentor, the late William Hickey (over at HB Studios)used to stress the importance of the (stage) actor being absolutely unafraid to appear foolish. Ever! He felt that when the audience detected self-consciousness in the performer they were pulled out of the play as they became instinctively concerned about/for the actor. It’s been fascinating to see how almost all the information and truths an actor demands of a character are the same as the memoirist needs to badger themselves with. THANKS!

  6. Stacey says:

    Thanks to all of you for the comments. Lynn, I sometimes have shower ideas too, but it’s usually more along the lines of someone I forgot to email back! I’m glad to see this provoked some thoughtful ideas. I’ve been thinking about the parallels a lot and I think there is a lot to explore here. Enjoy all of your creative endeavors!

  7. Diane Debrovner says:

    Interesting! Having been an actor is particularly helpful when writing (or editing) dialogue.

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