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Don't Whine About Your Misfortunes 
... Learn From Them And Move On

By Paul Strikwerda
Voice Actor

Every once in a while, we make a fool of ourselves. 

And thanks to the powers of social media, we can now do it publicly. 

Those who have hurt and humiliated themselves, vent their frustration on Facebook and start fishing for some sympathy: "Life is so unfair! Look what happened to me. Client X did this. Colleague Y said that. My agent doesn't love me anymore. Woe is me!" 

Yes, you're a miserable son of a gun. Let's have a pity party and invite some friends. Shared suffering is double the fun, but don't expect me to join in. 


I don't want to borrow your sorrow and smooth it over with a platitude and a positive attitude. Stop being such a crybaby. Face up to your problems.

There's no crying in voice overs. 

Don't complain about the voice over fee being too low and this annoying client being super high maintenance. You agreed to the terms and no one forced you to sign on the dotted line.

If that novel you're narrating is so poorly written, why are your moaning and groaning about it when you're halfway into the project? Did you even bother to read the first chapter before you decided to attach your name to it for eternity?  

Don't blame it on the author. There was a reason why no reputable publishing house was interested in this second-rate piece of pulp fiction.


Yesterday you said "yes" to this massive e-learning project and today you've come across weird terminology and foreign phrases that are impossible to pronounce. In a panic you're asking the online community to do your homework for you.

Did you ask the client to provide you with a pronunciation guide ahead of time; the same client who happens to be on a two-week vacation when you need him most? 

That company you'd never worked for before thanked you for sending three hours of audio ahead of schedule. Nice job! Five months and ten emails later you're still waiting to get paid. Their website is state of the art. They sounded so friendly on the phone. The project manager even promised you more work. 

You proclaim that you do business based on trust. That's why you have nothing in writing and you're being ignored. It's a sad, sad situation and it's getting more and more absurd. Next time, get paid first before you hand over the goods.


You auditioned for a documentary and the producer loved your voice. Now you have one day to record a 15-page script, just as the neighbors are digging in the dirt to install a pool. 

After two paragraphs you realize that the walk-in closet you use for voice over work doesn't protect you from the noise the hydraulic excavator is making. And this is only the beginning.  

"I want a Studiobricks booth. I want it NOW,” you tweet in sheer exasperation, "before I strangle the folks next door!" 

Don't point your fingers at the neighbors. Every handyman (or woman) knows not to take on a project without having the right tools. What made you think you could handle this job? 


You started narrating a long corporate training program and you figured that if you record for three hours a day, you can meet the tight deadline. After the first 67 minutes, your throat feels sore and your voice sounds raspy. Why? Because you've never done long-form narration before and your vocal folds aren’t properly prepared.  

Next thing, you go online asking colleagues for a quick fix, wondering why a sprinter can't just run a marathon. Are you really that naive? 


Your drama teacher said that you're "a natural" and you should seriously think of getting into voice overs. Based on that advice, you've bought some equipment, you recorded your own demos and you've signed up for a few voice casting sites. 

A thousand dollars and two hundred auditions later, you wonder why no one is listening. You've listed yourself as a professional, but you know as little about voice acting as you do about marketing yourself.  

"I've been tricked," you cry out on your Facebook page. "People told me I could do this, but I found out they had no idea what it takes to succeed. Can anyone please help me?"

Dry your tears. With so much online information and professional training available, ignorance and inexperience are no longer acceptable excuses. Always judge the quality of the advice by the quality of the source. If you haven't learned how to swing a bat, don't expect to join the major league any day soon.  


Now, if you're new to the biz and you're wondering why this grumpy blogger is dishing out tough love today, I have one answer:  Because you need to hear this. 

Don't make the mistakes I made when I began establishing myself as a voice over actor. It seemed to be a dream career and then I woke up. Don't get me wrong. It's still a great ride, but there are so many things that nobody told me when I gave up my day job. Things I wish I would have known. 

Any coach wants to see his team succeed. He knows the things that seem to be easy are often deceptive. They may take years of practice before they become second nature. 

Dumb mistakes can easily be avoided. And please don't go online to start sobbing about your misfortunes. Things go right and things go wrong. You're gaining experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on. It's all in the game. 

The only tears we want to see are tears of joy when you hit that home run. Now, go out there and play ball.
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. He also publishes an informative and entertaining blog, Double Dutch.

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Comments (1)
Marie Hoffman
8/19/2013 at 8:57 AM
Dear Paul:

Thanks for the "tough love". I agree - the only "whining" I like is with cheese and crackers.

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