As much as we want the reader of our cover note/letter to “get us” and call us in for an audition or possible representation, for many actors writing the cover note/letter is a chore. Here’s 7 ways to put some joy into your fingertips.
1. Take a few minutes to write about what’s on your mind first. When you sit down to write, clear away anything that’s floating around in your head by writing about it. Is your acting class a drag, your next door neighbor cute, your mailman creepy, your coffee delicious? Not only does writing about these things help get them out of your head, but you easily and naturally get into the flow of writing.
2. Write from a picture that inspires you. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Take any picture that relates to your goals and dreams and use it as your inspiration. Meryl Streep your favorite actress? A beautiful house on the beach where you’d like to be? Someone walking the red carpet? What about the picture of the actual industry professionals are writing to? Google images is a wonderful resource…find them, then either print them out or have them on your computer screen as you begin your note/letter.
3. Use a writing prompt. In grade school, teachers used written exercises to get students writing. You can easily create a prompt by imagining you’re in the office of the person you are writing to and that they are asking about YOU and what you offer. Then write your answers as you would speak them out loud. One of my favorites is, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” You could also respond to the prompt of “Who else in the industry knows your work?” Just respond to the prompt, and see what comes of it. Like using a picture, this technique opens another door in your mind that allows you to think differently, and perhaps see options that weren’t there before to include in your note.
4. Just get it out. Remember that the first draft of anything written is NOT going to be perfect, so have fun with it! There’s no reason to struggle over your exact phrasing or sequence when you’re just going to go back over it and edit anyway. Stop critiquing your work so much, focus on getting the idea out, and play with the words
5. Try emulating an actor you admire. Think about why you like his/her work and then model what they might say in a note. Does he/she write and speak beautifully? Does he/she entertain when being interviewed on Letterman? Many actors have authored books and articles and post on the internet and have a great way with words. By pinpointing the things that you like you are able to bring these elements into your own writing.
6. Write out your plan first. It’s easier to outline what you’re going to write about rather than the actual writing of it. Are you going to write a quick note with bullet points of recent projects? Are you introducing yourself with a letter that includes reviews and bio information? How much is too much and how much is not enough? By planning first, you get more excited about the task, spurring the birth of more ideas. It also helps if you remember WHY you’re writing in the first place. What’s the ultimate outcome you want to produce? What exact ACTion on the reader’s part do you want them to take?
7. Reward yourself. This is a huge one! After writing out your plan, decide when and how to reward yourself. For example, after writing 6 cover notes/letters you can go out and get yourself a treat (whatever it is that makes you happy). Not only does this serve as inspiration to get those notes finished, but by rewarding your own successes you are establishing an invaluable system that can only generate more success!
Take these tips and try them out for yourself. See which ones work for you, and toss out the ones that don’t. And remember, when you’re frustrated or things aren’t flowing, let yourself laugh, and breathe.
I’d love to hear from some of you any tip, tricks, or techniques that you use to accomplish the “task” of cover note/letter writing. Please share them with the rest of our community by posting a comment! To your success, Lisa