A Pro Voice Actor’s Discipline is more important than their Motivation

voice actor shows discipline during audiobook production

For the character voice actor in training* motivation is an obvious prerequisite. And so is discipline. However, these too oft-conflated concepts are actually very different. Motivation is transient. Like good or bad moods motivation can come and go. So what does a pro voice actor when their motivation deserts them? The solution is always the same: discipline. If you are truly devoted to your art or business (or both!) then discipline is always your best friend.

Allow me to clarify at this point that I am not referring to discipline as the practice of punishing someone for disobedience. Rather, I refer to discipline as a sustained commitment to working on your art, project or business whether you feel like it or not.

The clinical psychologist, Dr. Saliha Alfridi puts it like this:

We overvalue motivation and inspiration. If we look at all the ancient and timeless traditions and religions—or at any man/woman of greatness—they did not speak of inspiration only—yes, it was what got them started on their path, but the majority of it was devoted practice and showing up for your spirit every day. – Dr. Saliha Alfridi

Discipline is the key to progress in voice actor training, in any kind of training. And what could be more motivating than that?

For example, take the diary below. This is the story of a busy week in the life of an audiobook narrator. They work from a home studio and have a family and they’ve got 176 pages of book to record. Can they rely on their motivation to take them through? Or will discipline have a role to play?

The Diary of An Audiobook Narrator


It’s a new week! The weekend was hectic, but a change is as good as a rest. Spending time with my wife and kids away from school is precious. Every moment of quality I get to spend with them helps me to cope with the frustrations and confusions of my job. Not there are many of those right now. No sir! All is well at my studio.

I have a 176-page novel to record and 5 whole days in which to do it. 35 pages a day or thereabouts. No stress there. I read it last week and I know exactly how I want everybody to sound. My booth looks inviting and I just can’t wait to get started. Breathe-warmup-focus and…go for it. God, I love this book. I’m a very lucky man to have this job, this studio, this life. Chapters breezed through. Decent sound as well, even if I say so myself. Managed a quick video game audition too.

Pages recorded – 38


My poor little girl has developed another chest infection. This time of year is such a pain for illness. Damn bugs everywhere! Obviously, I could have done without her waking up twice in the night but it’s not her fault. She’s only 5 and her little chest is so vulnerable. How could I not cuddle her back to sleep and tuck her in. Thank god for Vicks and Calpol.

Just as well I made such a good start yesterday. A bit of breathing room is always good. Wonder if I’ll hear back from that audition today. Why is Tuesday always a paperwork day? Bad enough that I need to finish and publish a blog. Why did I have to discover that an invoice for a radio commercial hasn’t been paid? The client can’t explain what’s happened so now I need to chase someone else up to get to the bottom of it. Oh well. Still loving this book. At least in my booth there’s peace.

Pages recorded – 31


My daughter’s cough is getting worse. No cause for real alarm yet but it’s still a worry. Getting up for the fourth time (my wife and I twice each) makes for a properly disrupted night! There are times when I would love to just stay in bed. Lie ins, however, are not for the self-employed. To hell with all that other crap I’m worrying about. There’s a book to record and I fell a bit behind yesterday. Time to catch up.

My voice feels tired. Why do I always end up picking the most complicated voices for my characters? My larynx is not going to enjoy voicing Dame Alice today. Suppose I could phone it in a bit. Just trust that it’ll sound okay. No. Remember your voice actor training! Somehow, I know one of my old teachers will hear it and give me a bollocking. Best press on.

Pages recorded – 41


I’m not sure I’ve had any sleep. On the phone to NHS direct (or whatever the hell it’s called now!) for over an hour at 2am. A trip to the GP later should sort everything out. Just wish I could take her cough away. Also wish I wasn’t so scared about catching it myself. I still haven’t heard from that audition. Probably another wasted demo. Should just stick to audiobooks.

God I can’t face this today. Booth looks so damn claustrophobic. Why can’t the book just be finished already? Why do I do this to myself? I could be recording radio idents for a living. Instead of hours and hours. So many pages. Damn it. Don’t want to do it. I’ve had enough. My larynx is sore, I’m exhausted. Maybe I should just email the producer. Request an extension. Could I live with that? I’m only tired. Why. Wont. It. Just. Narrate. Itself.

Pages recorded – 29


Thank heaven for antibiotics and Meg & Mog! Only had to get up once last night. She was so much more settled. Wow, I was in a dark mood yesterday. Amazing how sleep or lack thereof governs so much of how we feel. A bad night and I just don’t want to do anything.  It all feels too much.

Actually, resting and assimilating all the days events in your subconscious is important. Reminds me how vital it is to not rely on motivation to get things done. Motivation is so temperamental. Some days it’s there and things are easy. But when it goes you can so easily fall over. I’m grateful that I was taught to rely on discipline. Don’t feel like it but I do it anyway. Just as well I didn’t leave myself with too much to record today. What a week!

Pages recorded – 37

Anyone can learn discipline

Discipline might seem like hard work. But the best thing about discipline is that it’s available to everyone. Whether you are a business owner, artist or voice actor in training. Motivation is so often beyond our control. Much of the world can and does weigh heavily on us. But when you do feel sapped of your motivation remember your discipline and devote yourself to making progress. You can do it. Even if it is reading just one page at a time.

*Inside Scoop – You’re never “fully trained” at anything you do. Every day is a school day 😉 

If you’re a voice actor looking for training contact us today! Use the button below to contact us and find out how Flying Pickle can help you find your own devotion to discipline.