In my Edinburgh Fringe show I talk, in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, about my top tips for acting. When I first wrote the show in 2016, I had four top tips that I wrote out on a flipchart.
When we revisit the show this summer, there are some more that I want to include.
My best, best tip is to do with 10,000 hours theory. I am a big convert to the theory of growth mindset and to the idea that genius is attributable to 10,000 hours of practice, rather than innate talent.
There's a rub though - you need to do "effortful" practice. "Effortful practice" means attempting things that are just outside of your competence, rather than coasting along practising something that you have already mastered.
A great example is ice-skating. Top ice-skaters have fallen on their arse three times as often as weaker skaters. This is as a result of their attempting harder challenges.
The analogy for acting is clear. Top actors are those who have made a tit of themselves in public three times more often than other actors.
The theme of this week has been Not Doing.
A mantra for acting is "Don't act the scene, let the scene act you." I believe in this a lot and try to use it very much in my acting.
Yesterday I was discussing how to make decisions and optimise your thinking with a group of CEOs. I am trying to make more decisions by Not Doing, Not Thinking, Not Planning.
I also had a conversation with a project manager about how to deal with a set of impossible deadlines. Not Doing seems almost paradoxical in this instance. And yet it's what I recommended to her...
"Life as an actor can be discouraging and the task of 'putting yourself out there' overwhelming. Zoe is a great model for staying positive and practical in overcoming apparent obstacles (such as perceiving oneself as a late starter).
The book encourages a shift of mindset that would foster success in any business. I enjoyed the connections to The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, which would be good to read alongside."
Geraldine Brennan, Actor
I was very lucky that I met the amazing Matthew Smith from Urbane Publications just at the time that I decided to write a book about my acting experiences.
I already had a book on networking ready to go (Networking Know-How, which Matthew also published) and based on seeing my writing in that Matthew agreed to publish a book about learning to act, which eventually became An Actor's Life for me, which hit the shelves in March 2017.
It's been fabulous to receive feedback from people who have read the book and felt inspired to bring more acting into their life as a result. I've heard from public sector workers, journalists, designers and many more people who pursued a different career while still harbouring a love for acting in their hearts.