When Is A Pencil Not A Pencil?

When Is A Pencil Not A Pencil?

No this is not an existential question about reality and parallel dimensions. This is a general  and genuine dilemma of the self employed. 

When you use a pen?

When you work for yourself but work through various agencies you invariably need a really good system of keeping on top of your crazy schedule. Either keep a diary on your phone, google calendar or a good ole fashioned diary. I like a diary because I find it helps to see what’s been filled out for definite (or as definite as something can be) and what’s a maybe or as yet unconfirmed. So, most of my diary entries start off written in pencil, ah ha the answer is that obvious I hear you cry?! Not exactly. Things get pencilled because dates often move around and get changed and otherwise my diary would be a big mess of crossings out that I wouldn’t be able to make any sense of it. I occasionally put some things in with pen, but it’s usually just because I can’t find a pencil.

 When it’s a heavy pencil?

No, a heavy pencil is not one owned by giants or made of concrete. A heavy pencil is a term used by agents and bookers. After auditioning or casting for a job what often happens is your agent or booker will ring you to ask you to put certain dates on a pencil but let them know if you get other work in over those dates. That generally means they have a few people in mind they are considering for the job and so if you get other work offered to let them know, sometimes this forces a decision. They will either decide they really want you in which case it will become a heavy pencil, or else they will release you from your dates.

Once on a heavy pencil this basically means they really think they want you but are still deciding for definite and it’s in your best interests to really keep those dates free as you are in for a good shot at the job.

If you are really (un)lucky they will put you on a REALLY heavy pencil!!!!

When it’s a really heavy pencil?

When you get put on a really heavy pencil you usually feel like you are on the edge of a cliff and don’t know wether to throw yourself off or not. You know they definitely like/want you but for whatever reason haven’t confirmed you yet. This could be because the job dates are still being confirmed or because they are still deciding between you and someone else/a whole army of other people. This is the most irritating type of pencil – just decide already!!!! Pick me!!!! This is the point where you are usually debating whether to cancel your holiday/wedding/cats birthday to keep yourself available for the job. This is also the point at which you have usually spent the fee from the job in your head on another holiday/wedding/birthday somewhere down the line which is a really bad thing to do but hard to stop yourself from doing.

Hallelujah I’m confirmed!

Once you have chewed off all your nails stressing over wether you are ever going to get an answer. Now, provided you have prayed to all the right gods, eaten all the right foods done everything you do with your left side of your body with the right side and obsessively checked your phone for a new message/email/voicemail every 30 seconds, you will then get confirmation you are actually doing the job. Hooray!!!! You’ve been booked for the job and as you collapse in a withering heap of joy, you realise you really do need to cancel your cats birthday but, that you can now afford a weekend in Brighton to treat yourself. Suddenly the phone rings…


“What’s that?”

“The whole of August?”

“On a pencil?”



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