In January I snapped a tendon in my middle finger which meant the calisthenics type workouts I was doing (healthy body, healthy voice...or something) went out the window. A snapped tendon in a finger sounds worse than it is, no pain at all, but the resulting 10 week rehab and 24/7 splint on my good hand is extremely annoying. (On the plus side I can do lots of things with my opposite one now).
**SNAPPED TENDON FINGER PICTURE INCOMING** Please ignore the out of focus shot, this was my first left handed task.
Fast forward 3 months and I decided to start lifting weights again. I managed to slip back into squats straight away and make some good progress. Squats were my enemy for so long - remember this cue, remember to do that, put your feet here, your hands there, hips back before knees bending etc etc etc. It took a long time for all those processes to click in my mind and become a fluid movement that I could perform without so much thinking.
After a couple of sessions back under the bar, I had a bit of a light bulb moment. Huge gasp inward "VOICE OVER IS LIKE WEIGHTLIFTING".
When I started VO, I remember having lists of everything I should be doing while warming up, right before a read, during a read and everywhere in between. It seemed like so much to remember and that's not including anything to do with the actual voice.
Here I was, settling a huge bar onto my back, staring at a wall with chalk markings scrawled over it, telling me where I need to be staring throughout the squat. Notice how many horizontal lines there are - that's trial and error. Honing the craft.
My feet were placed on top of two faded chalk lines on the floor, giving me the ideal stance width for my frame. Marking up. (I didn't take this photo with weight on my back by the way!)
And there was my piece of chalk, my pencil. Luckily, everything fell into place and I didn't have to think about the other 4,402 things I used to obsess over when squatting.
What it showed me is that over time, things become easier and more natural. Muscle memory isn't something that's solely related to your body. It's for the mind as well.
Some things with voice over took longer to click than others and there were certainly days filled with frustration when I first started out. But now, I don't have my 20 point warm up list stuck to the wall. I don't have the pre-read check sheet stuck to the inside of my booth. I don't have to think about inhaling then pausing then delivering. It all just happens.
Just like squats and anything else you want to get better at, it takes practice, time and effort. But don't get complacent, that's when injuries occur, or in the case of voice over, a bad read. We must always work to get better and that's a great deal easier with a mind that can focus without the filler.