Crafting a Support System


I have a board of directors.

And I agonized over it. I agonized for the same reasons I always agonize over asking for help. It’s a big ask, right? Why would anyone donate their time like that? And what do they get out of it anyway? I kept talking about my hypothetical board of directors — how I would rely on them as I faced this seemingly lawless world of playwriting, how they would help me choose a new headshot, how I would tap into their expertise to quiet my own insecurities — for the better part of a year. But something kept stopping me. I didn’t want to burden anyone. I didn’t want to burden them. I didn’t want to be a burden.

Never mind that I was asking my friends to support me and read my quarterly reflections. Never mind that these were people I relied on individually already. But the thought of formalizing the process was petrifying — even though having a set group of five confidants would ease my mind far more than shouting out into the void, even though having a more formal board wasn’t that different from what I was already doing. I’m a playwright, not a business. What gives me the right?

(Impostor syndrome is a real headache.)

But then I started thinking about all the folks who donate their time and money to being on non-profit boards.

I thought about the monthly meetings and the stakeholder votes and the joy those folks take in lifting up artists and helping them run their organization. I thought about the commitment these folks take on voluntarily, the joy they receive from sharing their mentorship, time, and expertise.

I thought about the support system I’ve already formed around me, the friends and industry folks who’ve supported me for the last decade. And then I started asking people. I asked if they would take the time to read four emails a year from me. I asked if they would be willing to offer me advice. I asked if they would consider donating their time.

And I got a lot of “no”s.

They were kind “no”s. “No”s filled with thoughts about their own schedule. “No”s cemented in boundaries on their time and energy. I loved every single one of those “no”s because I had also said “no” to people for some of the same reasons. Our time is valuable, our energy is valuable, our mental health and the boundaries we set are valuable.

I loved every one of the “yes”s too.

My personal board of directors are some of my favorite people in the world, in the industry, in my life. One year in, these folks inspire me, challenge me, and keep me honest. They listen to my successes and my arenas in desperate need of improvement. They answer my long winded questions, they review insecure grant applications, they vote on my headshots when I’m sick of looking at my own face. (Yes! They’re amazing!)

And every time that I sit down to write a quarterly update, I thank them for betting on me. And to think, I almost didn’t ask.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can step up your artistic process to include an accountability system that works for you, a set of non-negotiables that protects you and your craft, and a personal board of directors to cheer you on along the way, register for Crafting Your Artistic Handbook today! Classes begin on July 8.