Navel Gazing or Solo Theatre?

This Navel Gazing or Solo Theatre? Soaring Solo blog focuses on three tips to help you avoid navel gazing on stage and instead create a piece of authentic solo theatre that reaches far beyond your belly button.

This Navel Gazing or Solo Theatre? Soaring Solo blog focuses on three tips to help you avoid navel gazing on stage and instead create a piece of authentic solo theatre that reaches far beyond your belly button.

“Before I ask you to sit with me, I must be able to sit with myself. Before I ask you to accept my pain, I have to accept the pain myself. Before I ask you to love me, I have to be madly in love with myself.” –  C. Thoth

The dictionary defines navel gazing as… “self-indulgent or excessive contemplation of oneself or a single issue, at the expense of a wider view.

To me, the keywords to pay attention to in that definition are “…at the expense of a wider view.”

While a solo show is just one person on stage, the purpose of the play extends into the audience, the community, and beyond.

Yet, this notional is somewhat paradoxical in nature because it is only through honest self evaluation, brave self reflection, deep healing, and meaningful transformation that we are truly able to write a piece of solo theatre that actually benefits other people.

A perfect example of this is demonstrated by author Elizabeth Gilbert.

I recall hearing Elizabeth once claim that she was a hot mess when she started to write her memoir “Eat Pray Love.” 

Elizabeth wasn’t attempting to save the world or make a profound impact with the story of her failed marriage and subsequent spiritual quest. Instead, she was simply trying to recover from a brutal divorce, and attempting to make spiritual sense of the shambles that her life was in at the time. 

However, her story went on to be a “New York Times” best seller and was turned into a feature film. So, I guess it’s safe to say that it greatly resonated with readers and audiences alike.

This goes to show that when we focus on our own healing process, ask difficult questions about the world around us, evaluate our personal choices, and document our truth unapologetically, what often results is a gift to ourselves and to the world.

That said, I am providing you with three tips in today’s blog to help you avoid navel-gazing on stage and instead create a piece of authentic solo theatre that reaches far beyond your belly button.

You must be vulnerable.

Being vulnerable teaches your audience that your goal is to connect with them and that you aim to authentically share your story with them. You are not just talking at them.

This genuine desire allows you to earn their trust, pull them in, and make your show a shared experience rather than emotional masturbation.

Connection is what this art form is all about.

You must embrace both your fabulousness and your flaws.

You are human. 

Therefore, you are both fabulous and flawed.

A good piece of solo theatre should have a healthy dose of both qualities to ring true to your audience and feel authentic.

I don’t want to hear you go on and on about all of your accolades, accomplishments, and adorable personality traits without balancing those things with your human limitations.

I also do not want to sit captive for 90 minutes while you rip yourself to shreds and self deprecate all over me without also taking me on a journey of self love and acceptance.

In both of those cases, it’s all about you just ranting and raving. It’s not about you relating to me on a human level.

As a solo artist, you are a real person with imperfections and strengths. Both of these things are relatable. Both of these things are interesting. 

If you pretend you are perfect, your solo show will feel narcissistic, and if you feign that you’re a failure, your one-person show will come off as self centered.

Keep it real and you will keep your audience enticed.

You must invite other people into your creative process.

Yes, there is definitely a time for working alone as you write your solo script, but eventually, you will need to come out of your creative cave.

You must allow a trustworthy few into your creative process. 

By allowing other people in, you will discover what others find interesting and inspiring about your story. You will also learn about your blindspots and boring digressions.

When we create alone, we usually keep the audience outside of our stories because it is impossible to see ourselves and our lives without bias. 

We all need other people to lovingly and honestly hold up a mirror to us and help us see what is really there.

Well, solo artists, I sincerely hope that today’s blog gave you some insights on how to create a valuable piece of solo theatre and steer clear of navel-gazing!

You have my continued support as you persist along on your solo journey. It may not be easy, but it is so worth it!

Jessica Lynn Johnson
Soaring Solo Blog
Founder and CEO of Soaring Solo LLC

Enjoy these Solo Theatre Resources to further guide you on your solo journey!

Tune in and support the Soaring Solo Community as we share our stories from stage!

Award-winning director and developer, Jessica Lynn Johnson, hosts a slew of powerful solo show script readings and full staged productions addressing various impactful and inspiring topics.

This enticing lineup can be found by CLICKING HERE FOR MORE INFO.

Start writing your own solo show one Freewrite at a time with “FREEWrite Friday!”

Join BEST NATIONAL SOLO ARTIST WINNER Jessica Lynn Johnson for FREEWrite Friday!

Utilizing thought-provoking writing prompts, Jessica will lead you in writing exercises that are sure to assist you in the development of your solo show.

A one-person play is not typically written in one fell swoop. Rather, the Soaring Solo Methodology teaches that the creation of solo art is much like that of creating a mosaic…one beautiful piece at a time.

All that is required to attend this inspiring event is a willingness to explore, having a pen, paper, or some other means of capturing your thoughts, the ability to access Zoom, and signing up on this page as your official RSVP.

We look forward to having you join the Soaring Solo Community in this event because your story matters!

CLICK HERE TO RSVP and obtain the Zoom link and password.

Attend the Soaring Solo FREE One-Person Play Development class ONLINE!

No matter where you are in the creation of your solo show, idea phase, curiosity phase, full draft written, touring the festival and college market, BEST NATIONAL SOLO ARTIST and founder of Soaring Solo, Jessica Lynn Johnson, will meet you where you are at and take you to the next level! All that is required to attend is a willingness to explore, a pen, and some paper. No previous writing or performance experience necessary, and no need to have written anything to bring to class. Each week Jessica will guide you in exercises to help generate and stage NEW material! So come and meet other creatives in a supportive space for expression and exploration! The class is ongoing and so you may pop in and out as you please as long as you RSVP by clicking here for this FREE ONE-PERSON PLAY CLASS.

Schedule an Online Coaching Consultation with Jessica Lynn Johnson to discuss the possibilities for your solo show!

Jessica brings her 15+ years of solo theatre expertise to work privately with solo artists from all over the world on an as needed basis.

A 1 on 1 consultation is for you if…

-You are curious about creating a solo show, but you need writing prompts to help you generate material.

– You are tossing around ideas for your solo show, but you need some accountability and encouragement to commit those ideas to the page.

-You have already written some material, but you need expert feedback on editing, story structure and play formatting.

-You have a great first draft, but need guidance on how to utilize multimedia and solo theatre technique in order to make your show a dynamic piece of solo theatre.

-You already premiered your solo show and now you want some tips on how to tour colleges and festivals, and garner accolades and great reviews!

-You have heard great things about Jessica’s work and you’re curious about hiring her as a Director & Developer for your solo show, but first you want to feel her out and see if she is the right fit for you and your project.

Wherever you may find yourself on your solo journey, Jessica will help you overcome whatever immediate obstacle stands between you and your solo success.  

If you resonate with many of the things on this list, then take the next step by emailing for more information.

Jessica Lynn Johnson (Director and Developer) is a published playwright, recipient of BEST NATIONAL SOLO ARTIST AWARD, Advisory Board Member of the LA Women's Theatre Festival, and Founder and CEO of Soaring Solo LLC. Jessica has aided in the development of over 150 solo shows (and is still going strong)! As a performer, Jessica has “edu-tained” international audiences touring her own one person shows ZE and OBLIVIOUS TO EVERYONE for over 15 years. Jessica's projects have taken home awards such as TOP OF FRINGE, HFF ENCORE PRODUCER AWARDS, TVOLUTION BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE, LARRY CORNWALL AWARD FOR MUSICAL EXCELLENCE & several other accolades! Jessica was also nominated for the Female Director of Distinction in Theatre by Girl Trip LLC at the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival.