Self Sabatoge – the Solo Artist’s Worst Enemy

Self Sabatoge - the Solo Artist’s Worst Enemy
Self Sabatoge - the Solo Artist’s Worst Enemy

[NoHo Arts District, CA] – This month’s Soaring Solo blog focuses on “Self Sabatoge – the Solo Artist’s Worst Enemy.”

“Art is a war between ourselves and the forces of self-sabotage that would stop us from doing our work. The Artist is a Warrior.”  -Steven Pressfield

Being in the field of solo theatre for over 20 years, working with hundreds of solo artists, and being a Solo Artist myself, I have become well acquainted with the insidious nature of self-sabotage.

This month’s blog will focus on various ways that solo artists get in the way of their own success. This examination will allow you to recognize these damaging traps before you fall into them. Instead, I want to help guide you into having a healthy and abundant solo theatre career.

You know you are self-sabotaging if any of the following things are happening…

  1. You have to make the script 100% perfect.

While it is good to set high standards for your artistry, there is no such thing as perfect. 

If you continue to write and re-write your solo script in a neverending effort to reach some unrealistic and unachievable goal of a flawless final draft, then you are self-sabotaging with perfectionism.

A wonderful way to battle perfectionism is putting a meaningful stake in the ground to share your solo show script whether it be a reading or a preview performance and then setting deadlines that you will honor. 

For example, if you set a personal goal of having a preview performance at a theatre in 8 months. You should give yourself 6 months to write, one month to memorize and stage, and the final month be running the show, polishing the performance, and marketing and promoting  your show.

Of course, your own personalized trajectory may vary, but the point is, you look ahead and give yourself a finite amount of time to be the writer and editor. Then you set a clear time to step into the role of actor and promoter.

Without these concrete timelines, you will write and rewrite forever, never sharing your story from stage, never really memorizing your script fully because it is always changing, and never digging deep into the emotions and character work of your story because you are always in your head judging your writing.

Done is better than perfect. You can always make tweaks after you preview your show and learn from the reaction of the audience about what is and is not working.

  1. You have so many other things on your plate, you just do not have time to work on your solo show.

No one is forcing you to create a piece of, but if you have chosen to be a solo artist and it is in fact important to you, then honor that commitment to yourself in tangible ways on your calendar.

If you get up every day and place your personal to-do list, your downtime, your social life, your day job, the needs and wants of your friends and family, and everything else before your own creative time, then you will certainly never achieve your solo theatre goals.

If telling your story is meaningful to you, then prioritize it accordingly. 

Start valuing your creative expression as much as you do other meaningful areas of your life. Look at your schedule for the week ahead and find pockets of time that you can allot to working on your solo show. 

If your calendar truly is fully booked and you genuinely wish to make progress with your solo art, then start saying no to other things in order to say yes to your one-person play.

Depending on how far along you are with your solo show development, maybe this allotted time is simply spending 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week to freewrite or scribble down ideas for your show. Perhaps it is setting aside 90 minutes twice a week to run your entire show so that you keep your lines and blocking polished. Maybe it is spending an hour over the weekend researching venues and festivals to perform your show. 

There are endless ways to demonstrate to yourself that you and your solo show are worthy of sacred time on the calendar. So start making it real by blocking it off on your schedule.

  1. You just cannot create under these circumstances. Everyone and everything is just ruining your creative process. 

If you start to find fault with everyone and everything around you the closer you get to performing your solo show, the odds are quite good that the real problem is an internal one.

Sometimes the theatre venue, the festival, or the creative team members are not a good fit and you truly do need to seek out a better match for you and your art. However, a lot of times solo artists start to get very afraid as their performance date approaches and all of a sudden the theatre lights are just too bright and their director just doesn’t get the creative concept of the show and the venue just doesn’t have good energy and on and on and on.

The reality is that if you have a performance coming up, you must pull it together. At the end of the day, your solo show is your baby, so allow it to be born with large doses of optimism, resilience, teamwork, and resourcefulness. 

Complaining and focusing on things that are outside of your control, and possibly not even true, is a waste of your limited time and energy before a performance.

Assess what is reality as opposed to what is fear making “false evidence appear real”. Then from a grounded and real place, decide what is within your control to take action on and put your energy into those places.

The show must go on, so do everything within your power to make sure it is not your own negative attitude and limiting or false beliefs that are standing in the way of your solo show success.

  1. You want to tell your story from stage, but you believe that no one cares about what you have to say, so you stop taking steps forward.

Self doubt is maybe the most significant of all of the self sabotaging behaviors I have witnessed. 

The voice that convinces you that your story is not worth sharing and that no one wants to hear it is a ruthless liar.

Once you become skilled at identifying that voice when it whispers in your ear, you can begin to tell yourself the truth and discredit this detrimental voice.

Take the time to dive into the reasons why your story is a gift for your audience, and how it is cathartic for you. If you cannot get in touch with your “why” and start to really believe that you are worthy of sharing your story from stage, then you will continue to talk yourself out of creating your solo show.

If you have a hard time being your own cheerleader, then be intentional about seeking out sources that help you to raise your self esteem. Perhaps that is particular friends, family members, therapists, teachers, mentors or spiritual guides that always leave you feeling better about yourself and your purpose. You may also need to avoid people who are negative and pessimistic and do not have a positive effect on your self perception.

Hopefully, this short list of self-sabotaging behaviors allows you to start to pay attention to what you may be doing that is not serving you and your solo show. The more you become self aware and take ownership of your harmful contributions and seek out alternative helpful behaviors, the more success you will find in your solo theatre career and your overall wellness.

Being a solo artist is not easy, but it is so rewarding. So set yourself up for success by utilizing today’s insights, and please continue 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 in multiple festivals Internationally. We are in the middle of the Soaring Solo STARS Series and you do NOT want to miss these incredible shows!

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”!

An Empowering Pre-Show Warm Up for a Solo Artist

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.