Being aware of when you are using them and when the reading is showing up organically is helpful. “Organically” is a highfalutin’ word that I hate on one level, but is the only way I presently know to describe the difference with coming at a role externally, through a line reading, versus internally, through the unprejudiced exploration of a character. It’s a learned ability, but when you achieve it, it’s very helpful.
Questioning yourself is also useful. At some point down the road, I’ll talk about how I vet my own performances to make sure I’m not unintentionally stuck in a line reading. (Yes, I’ve been acting for longer than I’d like to admit, and I still need to monitor myself for this potentiality, and always will.)
But both of those alternatives are advanced stuff. Where do you start?
For one thing, learn to memorize your lines by rote. That is, just memorize the words themselves, without consideration for how they should be said. (At some point, I’ll create a video which will demonstrate this process.)
But you can also avoid them by doing what I’m going to suggest is the real function of and way to handle the first half of the rehearsal period:
Trial and error.
Intentionally say the line differently each time you rehearse the scene (or at least some of the times you rehearse the scene, until you run out of alternatives). Because you aren’t doing exactly the same thing every time, your brain has nothing yet to memorize. (I’ve got a post coming up on your subconscious, which reiterates how frequency and repetition become reality, whether you like it or not. Or you can check this post out, for the introduction of the concept. Which is really very pertinent and worth reviewing.)
[Also, telling you to “intentionally say the line differently” is perhaps a little glib and apt to be misunderstood, but I don’t want to get bogged down in the details right now. We’ll explore what “trial and error” really means at some point in the future.]
Your brain only memorizes what is repeated. It understands frequency. Nothing else gets through its filter from the outside world.
Your subconscious knows things you don’t realize it knows, and that can be helpful to an actor. But that’s a different matter. When it comes to new data – that is, new lines to memorize – your brain relies on the frequency of the input.
Of course, there is a more important reason for using trial and error, and I’ll talk about that shortly. But this is a nice side benefit of the process!