I have a favorite saying (well, it’s one of many favorite sayings, actually). “Drama costs extra.” I use that statement, most of the time, when telling producers interviewing me for a casting gig that I’m a big fan of stress-free casting environments. I don’t need drama and chaos in order to feel as though I’ve accomplished something significant, so I make it clear to producers, up front, that if they require drama, they’ll need to plan to pad the budget in order to pay my Drama Fee. That usually gets a laugh, shows a glimpse into my personality and work style, and sets us off on our way to collaborate well for the duration of the casting process.

But what about the non-professional drama queens in our lives? How do these folks in our “real lives” impact the way we do our jobs? Heavily. People who need drama can make it very tough for us to focus, tap into our own creativity safely, and deliver what we were hired to do.

Julia Cameron has a wonderful section in her book The Artist’s Way about poison playmates and crazymakers. In it, she describes the saboteurs as “blocked creatives” who are “charismatic, charming, inventive, and persuasive,” which is why we often ignore that they are “out of control, long on problems, and short on solutions.” These people create drama where none need exist. They are fueled by negativity and self-pity. “Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers,” she says. The specific reasons why they do this are less important than the fact that they do it (and the fact that it sidetracks our own journey to success). [Please read or re-read this excellent book, if you crave more than this oversimplified paragraph about this premise.]

One of my favorite theories from The Artist’s Way concerns our need for having these drama-filled people in our otherwise drama-free lives! “Your crazymaker is a block you choose yourself, to deter you from your own trajectory,” according to the author. So, when you notice an increase in the number of drama queens in your life, examine whether you’re looking to keep yourself distracted from your creative journey. Is there some benefit to remaining stuck? Is it convenient to have an outside excuse for the fact that you’re not out there Making It?

What about a “friend” who is constantly working to feel good by pointing out everyone else’s flaws? My husband and I were at an awards ceremony and networking event last week and, during the schmoozefest, I listened to the many ways in which people tended to ingratiate themselves. Fascinating stuff! While most folks would talk about exciting projects in development, excellent decisions made in the casting process, or inspired finished products, there were those who invariably steered conversations toward what someone else was doing wrong. There was drama. There was a story about some awful something. And then there was the punchline: the person telling the tales would come out looking like the hero. Somehow, I left each of those conversations feeling as though the “hero” might just be a crazymaker, looking to stir up emotions and get people buzzing about something awful, so that he or she could look better by comparison. As Julia Cameron further says, “The good of another can never block our own.” Tearing others down is such an irresponsible manifestation of a person’s own insecurities! If you see yourself doing it, stop. If you see others doing it, disengage. Fast.

And don’t feel guilty for removing these types from your life! Poison playmates and crazymakers will work very hard to make you feel bad for turning your back on them (which you’ll only do because you must, in order to nurture your own creative spirit). Remember, you can never provide enough of anything to sate a crazymaker’s need for drama. Never! So, sure, you’ll worry you’re leaving someone behind when he or she needs you the most (anytime they need you, it’s when they need you the most, by the way). But once you’ve determined this person is a poison playmate, don’t look back. Be there for you! Nurture your creative self!

When you see drama swirling around, find a way out. Even if that means you simply smile and nod until it swirls elsewhere, do that. Don’t feed the drama beast and it’ll stop coming around sniffing for more. The best way to do your best work as an artist of any kind is to give yourself the safest, most nurturing space in which to cultivate your gift. And believe me, many drama queens find “safe, nurturing space” where you “simply smile and nod” to be quite boring. Disengage and enjoy the peace. You’ll be so very impressed with how much more creative energy you have when you’re no longer trying to keep up with the crazies!

How do *you* disengage from the crazies? Have you had to go on a drama diet? Share your tips in the comments below!

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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000296.html. 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. Michelle March 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    So… I recently dated a poison playmaker/crazymaker hybrid. I told him last weekend that I needed to get off his roller coaster because I was motion sick. :-p End scene.

    I always say that I like my drama on the stage. Where it belongs. πŸ™‚

  2. Bonnie Gillespie March 22, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Right on, Michelle! So freakin’ true. Here’s to your liberation!

  3. Angela March 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I use a “twist or turn” technique that I invented. If I’m talking to someone who insists on drama I try 3 times to twist their attention to something more inspiring and positive and if they continue I turn and walk away (not rudely of course, I just have to go the loo or something!!!) πŸ™‚ Twist or turn!

  4. Susie Mordoh March 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    The older I get the more I feel like I repel crazymakers. I can’t even fake the conversation socially any more…OY! I love that ‘Drama costs extra”!

  5. Susan March 22, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I grew up in a house led by a crazymaker. oy… it took me many years and some counselling and deep prayer work but I learned how to disengage incredibly successfully from the one I grew up with and any others that show up in my life. For a while my go-to mantra was…a boring life…is a good life:) Life is fabulous now! Not boring and not dramatic either. Just right….

  6. Bonnie Gillespie March 22, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Angela — LOVE that twist and turn. Right on! And the important part is recognizing when the attempts and twisting and turning are done and it’s time to hit the loo, as you said. YES!

    Susie — Isn’t that crazymaker repellant a gorgeous feature of getting a wee bit older? Feel free to put “drama costs extra” into your contracts. I’m not kidding… it’s REALLY effective. Attracts exactly the right collaborators.

    Susan — How fabulous to have a “just right” life. I love it. It’s especially tough when it’s a part of our homelife. Well done, choosing better for yourself, going forward. <3

  7. Kelly Hine March 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Drama queens are energy suckers! Politely acknowledge their pain and wish them well. Perhaps you could say that it sounds like they’re going through a tough time and you hope they find the help they need. Then find a way out! Maybe you have to get to an appointment in 5 minutes (with yourself!) Take care of your own energy. If you find it’s been depleted from the drama-filled encounter, go do something to make yourself feel good that will raise your vibration and detach from their energy.

  8. Dana March 22, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Bonnie, I love your energy! “Drama costs extra” I’m going to be quoting you sister. I still work a day job AND Drama Queen Crazymakers are running the show…I have just taken a new assignment, SO here’s to stepping off the stage. Love this post.

  9. Elizabeth MacLeod March 22, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Bonnie’s life lessons. Gotta love them and take them to heart. Poison playmakers… no longer in my life… done like dinner! Crazy makers can play with themselves! It’s just not for me. Love to keep company with the creatives . . . the inspired . . . the dreamers . . . Like you πŸ™‚ Great post.

  10. Lorna March 23, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Bonnie I am so glad that you pointed out that if we constantly have drama in our lives we are somehow attracting it. It is so easy to blame, but when we look into ourselves we realize that we are manifesting these people for a reason. When we have a repeated problem in our lives that just keeps coming back to haunt us I think there is a lesson. Until we learn the lesson we will have to keep experiencing the problem. Until we step away from the drama, stop being a part of it, we will have it in our lives. Glad that you have chosen to be done with it. I have too.

  11. Sue Ann March 23, 2014 at 5:50 am

    You make me chuckle: Save the Drama for Your Mama. Yes, my mother did, indeed have a whole lot of drama. I’m so glad “I” have a choice. I especially love this line: “The best way to do your best work as an artist of any kind is to give yourself the safest, most nurturing space in which to cultivate your gift.” I think this is why I find myself so attracted to creatives. They have found a way to honor and develop the richest pieces of both their psyche and soul. Thank you for sharing this post with us.

  12. Marg March 23, 2014 at 5:51 am

    I love the idea of nurturing your creative self by seeing the good in others. That’s win – win. I remember doing The Artist’s Way many years ago…it was brilliant! Thanks for this post Bonnie.

  13. Heather March 23, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I LOVE that you have the courage to tell producers that drama costs extra! In my nutrition practice, there can be quite a bit of drama – I read a post from someone the other day who said they charge those types of clients an extra “secret” fee for taking up their time like that. I think it is a fantastic idea!

  14. Zoe Richards March 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I’m so with you – those poison playmates don’t serve us well. I actually have a saying ‘be more penguin’ – I smile and wave, smile and wave, just like the penguins at the end of Madagascar πŸ™‚

  15. Tania March 23, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Your writing really does crack me up. You are witty and fun! AND I had such a great time this afternoon meeting you and getting to know you. And growing up in LA, I had my fair share of poison playmates and crazy makers. Couple that with a Middle Eastern family full of drama, and I’ve got enough last a few lifetimes! For me, avoiding and not creating my own drama is a daily practice.

  16. april March 23, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    “Is there some benefit to remaining stuck?” a difficult, but very important, question to ask. this is unfortunately true at times, that we invite the crazy (another excuse we can tell ourselves). if we’re honest, we will do this: “When you see drama swirling around, find a way out.” thanks, bonnie.

  17. Bernadette March 25, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Oh how true! Have worked really hard to rid the crazymakers from my life. It was not easy. I did not even realize that there were poison pals in my life until I actively started pursuing my acting again. Brother, what a relief! I’m happily pursuing and meeting such cool, upbeat constructive people! True Bliss! Smile, nod and Twirl!!!!! πŸ˜‰

  18. Sharon Sharth March 25, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Bonnie, did you know that my husband, Mark Bryan, created THE ARTIST’S WAY with Julia? And they were one of the first to really urge people to create and produce their own work – just like you!
    Love the restaurant story. I will always be grateful to you for getting me to see myself as other people (in the business) see me. It gives me confidence to know “what I idle at.”
    Love, love, love…xo

  19. Bonnie Gillespie March 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Kelly — Yes! So good. I agree with everything you’ve said. Such good advice!

    Dana — Aw, thank you! πŸ™‚ Quote away, my friend. Congrats on the new assignment and to the death of drama in your workplace.

    Elizabeth — “Done like dinner!” I love it! You are fun, girl! Don’t you love the inspired, dreaming, creatives? Oh… me too. Such bliss!

    Lorna — Blame feels better than accepting it might be us, right? It’s allllllll about the lesson and whenever I see an old pattern even starting to creep back, I quickly find the lesson so that I can move on! Again. πŸ˜‰

    Sue Ann — Thank YOU for coming by and leaving such a thoughtful comment! We *all* have a choice and it’s so important to exercise it (especially if the drama comes from our personal relationships). XO

    Marg — Thanks, Marg. Isn’t “The Artist’s Way” a classic? It *is* a win when we see the good in others. Reflects more good in ourselves!

    Heather — That’s exactly what it is — an asshole fee. πŸ˜‰ But they don’t have to be “assholes” to incur the fee. They just have to bring drama. When they bring drama, they “cost” me energy, more time, and stress… all of which is billable, in my business. Luckily, my “picker” is really good, so I attract less and less drama these days.

    Zoe — Adorable imagery, Zoe! I haven’t seen the film, but I can totally see smiling, waving penguins, so I’m gonna use that visual.

    Tania — Thanks, Tania. I had a blast with you too! So good to meet you in person. πŸ™‚ For SURE, you have had an opportunity to engage with some crazymakers with that life history, huh? So good to be on the other side of that! XO

    April — Love your comment. Yessssss! Thank YOU for being here and for being a light in this life.

    Bernadette — Love you, Bernadette! So glad you’re back at the acting thing with so much passion and positivity. Way to rock it out with the exact right perspective!

    Sharon — I *did* know that! I think it’s soooooo dang cool. Talk about being ahead of their time! That Mark and Julia really did something revolutionary with that whole way of thinking. Changed so many people’s lives (and continue to do so).

    I’m THRILLED to know that the tools from class continue to pay off in your life, Sharon. You are such a goddess and I love that you’ve continued to embrace that others see that in you — and want to cast you for that! So much love flowing your way!

  20. Julie McNamara April 3, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I just finished the 12-week Artists Way course last night! How happy I was to read this and see it πŸ™‚ Ironically, that was the part of the book that touched me the most. I’ve met some crazies, as we all have, but the older I get, I’ve come to wonder why we let them bother us so much. The fact is, in the end we are letting them win by doing that. So why not take a stand?!

  21. Bonnie Gillespie April 19, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Right on, Julie. It’s up to us how much space we let them rent in our hearts, souls, brains… and we know how to stop renting that space to them. πŸ˜€


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