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Exhausted? You've Got Voice Over Fatique.
Feel Better Fast With These 12 Steps ...

By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor 

You'll find it right there in the Voice Over Dictionary:
VO Fatigue: A psycho/physiological syndrome exhibited by the accumulative stress and exhaustion resulting from the endless pursuit of freelance voice over success.
We've all been there. The syndrome strikes irrespective of age, gender, race, time of year, time of day, or relative humidity.

Some of the ore obvious signs and signals are: 
  • irascibility,
  • depression,
  • dry mouth,
  • sleeplessness,
  • despair,
  • frustration, 
  • tears, and 
  • sometimes hair loss, gout and vertigo.
I kid. But I think you get the picture. It's not necessarily unique to voice acting, but it IS common among those who strive to run their own business. 


Everything is ultimately on YOUR shoulders. That can mean good things, like when that big fat check comes in for a long project you just completed. But more often than not, it means the strain of constantly propping up the business with the sheer force of your will.  

Day after day, week after week, the success of this endeavor depends on you. Your energy. Your talent.  Your determination. Your resourcefulness. 

Unless you take some positive steps here and there, the pressure of it can lead to VO Fatigue. 


Herewith then, are my 12-plus ways to avoid VO fatigue: 

1. Walk Away. Leave the premises. See a movie. Waste time in the park with your dog. You'd be surprised how much good an hour can do engaged in something mindless. Severe cases may require a couple of days - even a week. Plan for it. Then do it. Everybody needs a break, even freelancers. 

2. Call a Friend. No one is going to "get" your situation more than a trusted friend - especially a VO friend. If a friend called you, wouldn't you listen? Reverse the roles, and fire away. One of these days he or she will call, and you can return the favor. 

3. Cut Your Losses. Two ways this works:
  • Dump clients who pay too little and bother you too much. 
  • Unsubscribe from services that are giving you little-to-no return on your investment. Either way, be sensible and realistic. Why continue in relationships that don't benefit your bottom line? 
4. Maintain Your Health. How many times have you heard "if you have your health, you have everything"? A strong constitution will see you through a lot of trials and troubles. Not that you should abuse it, but when you are in good shape, you can push the envelope a little more and not suffer for it. This includes getting enough sleep! 

5. Ask for Help. Chances are someone has just the answer to your quandary, or your predicament or frustration. Like "call a friend," there is no shame in raising a red flag and seeking assistance. Online. On the phone. Via Skype. Float a balloon and be amazed how quickly someone grabs it. 

6. Keep a Routine. Routines are funny things. On a creative day, routine can seem like a ball and chain, but when you've reached a point of fatigue, the comfort factor of a routine can put you back on the rails. A routine adds structure that will see you through frustration. 

7. No Excuses. No Procrastination.  If it gets that bad, utilize No. 1 above (take a walk). Put your big britches on and face the music. Like Nike, just do it.  I've often convinced myself that a five-minute hurdle is bigger than Mount Everest. It's not. Think through the task, and you'll realize it's not that bad. 

8. Realize rejection is not personal.  This is HUGE in our business. What's the saying? "Audition, then forget it." Get more coaching, sure. Improve your demo, yeah. But hand-wringing over a lost audition is wasted tears. Move on. 

9. Have a Strategy for the Eventuality. You KNOW fatigue is going to hit you sooner or later. Plan for it. I'm serious. Write out a step-by-step escape plan, seal it in an envelope, and keep it in a safe place. When the gremlins get to be too much, break open the envelope, and follow your plan to the letter. 

10. Curry Non-VO Friendships. Not that voice actors aren't the most charming people in the world, but balance is a good thing. Don't neglect old friendships from school or an earlier career, or even the next-door neighbor who reupholsters furniture for a living. It helps you to put things in perspective. 

11. Get One Thing Done. It can be really small. Just do it, and do it right. Take a moment to revel in the instant of the achievement, then maybe tackle something a little harder. We all want a "win." Parlay one win into another. 

12. Take a Social Media Break (or watch mindless TV).  You'll soon realize one of two things:
  • Everyone else's troubles are worse than yours.
  • The world is a crazy place, and you have more than earned your place in it. A half-hour on Facebook or Twitter will usually shake you out of your blues. 

Laughter really is the best medicine. When I least wanted to, my daughter used to call me to come see something. It was usually stupid cat videos on YouTube, but I've got to admit that the chuckle or belly-laugh it gave me brought me out of my funk. 

Keep good humor, and spread good humor. Making others laugh is magical. 
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He also writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of adventures and observations in a style that’s true to his friendly Midwestern farm roots.


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Comments (3)
Jack Bair
4/23/2013 at 2:10 PM
Thanks, Dave and John, for another timely helpful article. I thought I was the only one, ha. But since it comes from an endless pursuit of freelance success, we're all faced with it from time to time.
John Florian
4/22/2013 at 12:46 PM
Alan, good point about career fatigue vs. vocal fatigue. Tips for easing vocal fatigue are certainly welcome here. Also use the VoiceOverXtra SEARCH box (in the masthead area above) for "Vocal Health" (don't use the quote marks) for links to articles and podcasts. As for career fatigue ... we're keeping an eye on you!
Alan Sklar
4/22/2013 at 12:10 PM
Title: VO Fatigue

I am a fan of young Mr. Courvoisier, but I am unsatisfied with this article. I was hoping it would contain tips/advice/strategies on how to deal with VO fatigue. Not career fatigue. Drinking whiskey and chasing women can refresh career fatigue.

My cords tire after too much talking/narrating and I lose my "sound." When working at home, I can take a 30-minute nap and refresh the cords. When in a studio, narrating an audiobook I can take a nap during the lunch break. Advice on how professionals do this in other situations is very welcome.
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