This time of year (yes, just a couple of weeks into it) tends to correspond with a dip in energy for a lot of folks. Resolutions have been broken, best intentions have been derailed, old patterns have reemerged, and hope seems to wane. This sort of thing also happens after every exciting booking. After each call of “this is a wrap for [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]” on set. After signing with an agent and then wondering if he remembers you exist.

Dip management is as much a part of your creative career as having contrasting monologues and 16 bars ready, as having your Actors Access profile updated with clips from acting work you’ve booked, and as having gloriously on-brand headshots with you ALWAYS.

The time to get skilled at handling the dips is before you’re in one. Bliss-filled day? Birds singing? Sun shining? Agent calling? Auditions aplenty? (Yay, you!) Time to map out the path back to happiness, before you hit that next dip.

“But Bon!” you say, “How do you know there’s gonna be a dip? What if this is my new normal!” Well, this is where I get to be wise because I’m old enough and have been in this business long enough (44 and since age 7, if you’re curious) and have worked with enough actors over the years to know that we’re constantly navigating growth management and dip management.

Picture a rollercoaster. But with red carpet and paparazzi and Red Vines at crafty.

When you’re riding a rollercoaster, you know what you’re in for. You can see the climbs, the twists, the drops, and you actually look forward to those low points so that you can catch your breath and brace yourself for the next big climb. Well, just because you don’t have the advantage of knowing where you are on the rollercoaster of your life (you could be mid-climb, you could be dip-adjacent, you just can’t know ’til it’s happening, really) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the downtime of the dips.

Make a deal with yourself that you’ll realize you’re facing a dip in energy, a shift in momentum, a bit of quiet after all the buzz… and breathe. Relax. Nap. Create a gameplan for the next big thing (because there’s always a next big thing).

Managing our spirit during downtime is some of our most important work, as artists. It makes space for our greatest creativity to flow in. It allows time for writing the screenplay that’s been begging for your attention. And if you’re not strangely eager to FIX something that’s not broken (you know, change up your headshots, drop your agent, decide nothing’s working so it’s all gotta be different), this time can actually be beautifully productive.

Remember that calendar we put together for Scheduling Success? When you’re in a dip, don’t dick around on Facebook (that’s actually the worst place to be when you’re feeling low); pull out that calendar and chip away at a goal you mapped out when things weren’t so dippy.

Don’t toss out all the goodness you’ve planned for Better You just because you’re in a dip. Manage that energy. Reallocate that time toward projects you know need your focus. Enjoy the ride and know the next climb is just another quick twist away.

Ready to grab your very own SMFA Dip Kit (including a pep talk from me)? Have at it!

All my love,

Bonnie Gillespie autographed the internet

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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  1. Niki January 27, 2017 at 4:21 am

    I needed this one!! Thanks so much for the encouragement, for the permission to take a break and rest, and for the reminder to just work on planning or something not so Exciting, until I get my enthusiasm back. You have such a gift for speaking authentically and encouraging others. Thanks for sharing it with us!!

  2. Carmen Nikae January 27, 2017 at 9:22 am

    HOORAY! Thank you Bonnie! I had a dip-day yesterday and this email came at just the right time. Now i know I need to plan for dips and know not to beat myself up about the down-days. <3 Thank you, thank you!!!

  3. Sean Johnston January 27, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Re. today’s email, a couple of things to remind myself of or say to myself–and this is not meant to be preachy–it’s just what works:
    –Trust God.
    –Follow the directions He gives, often through the Holy Spirit
    –“If you’re going through Hell, don’t stop!” (popular saying in some circles)–no wallowing, STOP WHINING
    –God didn’t get me this far just to drop me now.
    –“Well, that’s enough of that.”
    –I must not be done yet; I’m still alive.
    all of which goes back to
    Trust God.

  4. Christina Gardner January 27, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Yes! I’ve needed this reminder lately. One of the things I find most helpful in managing my dips is getting outside or getting some exercise. I find if I’m just sitting around, wallowing in my dip, I end up just digging myself further and further into it. Even just getting up and doing 25 squats or pushups can immediately change my mindset and get my day back on track.

  5. Chloe January 27, 2017 at 11:06 am

    This article is so valuable and this topic is not discussed enough. So glad to read it! I love the roller coaster analogy – but with a blindfold on!
    Sometimes I manage my dips by doing what you said – I don’t judge myself for feeling down or disappointed (I’m not “down for being down”). And you’re right – it usually doesn’t last as long. Other times I dig through my thoughts and uncover some assumptions and beliefs that might not be true – I challenge my inner dialogue. if it’s an unsupportive loved one who’s got me down (this can take me out at the knees sometimes), I pump myself up by telling myself I’m brave for following my heart and not being a conformist career-wise! And lastly, I focus on things that bring me joy but are also unexplainable- nature, other galaxies, the purpose of our existence – these mysteries remind me that I don’t need to have all the answers today – the mystery is enough.

  6. Russell Bradley Fenton January 27, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Writing really helps with the dips that come and go. I channel the frustration a lot into characters voices in the dialogue and even the action slugs in scripts. Funny enough, when a story or plot emerges, it feels really productive. Recommended for all you actors out there, especially if you read tons of scripts and have even a basic idea of script structure.

  7. Bonnie Gillespie January 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Awesome! Thanks, y’all! So happy this landed at just the right time for you. <3

    Niki -- Isn't it lovely to know you can give YOURSELF permission to take those breaks and get yourself ready for the next climb? Phew! Thank you for the kind words about my voice as a writer. It's a passion to connect with creatives about a more joy-filled way to enjoy the journey. 🙂 So glad that comes through!

    Carmen -- You're welcome! Something you mentioned in your email to me reminded me to tell you -- and I'll just do it here, since I'm here right now -- is that I try not to label it "extrovert" and "introvert" so much as "outside cat" and "inside cat." 😉 Sometimes, I'm feeling like an inside cat! That doesn't mean I don't still love the outside (or maybe just wanna fantasize about all the birds and squirrels I could catch if I WERE out there, since I'm here looking through the window at the moment), it just means right now I may want to curl up in a ball, "make biscuits" on the blanket, and purr. It's all good!

    Sean -- So glad you have a list that works for you! So very important! Keep building that muscle!

    Christina -- Love that! It doesn't even have to be some big "go to a class" or "hit the gym" thing, does it? Simple and so effective!

    Chloe -- YES! There's totally a blindfold on, huh! Well said! Love "the mystery is enough." It really is!

    Russell -- Great idea! And potentially fantastically productive!!

    Y'all so rock! <3 THANK YOU for being here and jamming with me about this! Happy dip management! 🙂

  8. Connor Muhl January 28, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Thanks Bonnie! i think Dip Days are so important! On “Dip Day” moments for me, I just work anyway. I feel I get better the fastest when I work when I don’t feel like it, because it pushes my brain harder, which expands it. To me getting better is consistent work outs, so I now can trust when I don’t feel like doing something, the outcome of doing it anyway is going to be fun! That sort of excites me because I know I will improve or have some sort of break through. I have a sign on my wall that I made that I look at every day: There are musical repeat signs on either side and it says: (repeat sign) “Fail, Die, Live Try” (repeat sign), (so it is cyclical). Now I can’t wait to “fail”, lol. Sometimes I tell students, if they are feeling down as they come in for a lesson, to just fail that day, because as soon as I do, it takes all the pressure off of them and then they sing freely and better than ever! Yesterday I did this with a new student and she cried as she sang two-thirds through the lesson. By the end she was singing out so well and the pent up emotions released and were replaced with joy and excitement. She said she knew the tears came from her never allowing herself to sing because she felt deep down she couldn’t; she wasn’t aware of that until she just finally did it anyway. She left smiling with new-found confidence.

  9. Bonnie Gillespie February 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    I love that sign on your wall, Connor! How VERY cool! You sound like a really great teacher. Love how you’re infusing this good work with your students! 🙂


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