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How To Stay Motivated In Animation

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For a start. “How do you get inspired to animate” or “How do you stay motivated to animate” are two fabulous questions I get alot.

I often wonder about that, like what does it mean really. Have you heard someone asking a chef how do you get inspired to cook? Or a celebrity how do you get inspired to stay famous?

Guys, animation is a job. It requires hard work, practice and discipline. You know, so does writing, cooking, composing, and so on. Lots of people confuse inspiration with motivation. 

To put it simple, motivation is to have a motive, I mean see what I did there? And inspiration is a process.

What is your motive for animation then? Whenever a studio or a someone hires me for a commercial or a short vid, I’ll have to animate every single day til’ the job is done. That’s pretty simple right, doing it for the money.

What about personal projects then? That’s when it gets tougher. I mean anyone can find the energy to animate hours every day when they’re getting paid, but what about when there’s no payment or no guaranteed result from the hard work and effort you put in?

How do you get inspired when no one cares? 

I’ll admit this sounds a little bit like a rant but here’s the simple truth:

Professional animators will do the work regardless of what the outcome is. Amateurs will wait for motivation or inspiration.

So here’s what YOU can do to stay motivated.

Number 1,  BIT BY BIT, DAY BY DAY. 

Every little bit of work you put into your animation counts. It could be 5 mins, it could be 20 mins, it could be hours. You get to decide on this. 

The important thing is to get some progress every day without fail. Let’s be real now guys. I have a day job, and I only get to animate my videos for YouTube for the same example I gave above. Some days I get 5 minutes, some days I get 1 hour, but I’ll never use a lack of time as a reason for not putting out videos for you guys. The motive is to deliver value for my audience, and with that I get more inspiration to produce better animations. It’s really a push and pull thing here. If you work a little bit every day, you know you’ll get closer to your goal because you’ve already done it the day before.

Number 2, Learn as you go along.

Back in the day, technology was not so advanced, to learn something meant I had to go ask someone. Like a teacher, or a friend. And depending on their mood, I might end up not learning anything at all. 

Now, learning is much easier I’d say. Wanna know something? Wikipedia. Wanna learn something? You’ve got mail, I mean you’ve got YouTube! It’s so convenient!

One of the biggest motivations you can get as an animator is producing animations that suck (No I’m not kidding) and improving as you get better. As time goes by you’re gonna look back at your first few animations and cringe. I know, I’ve been there and it’s perfectly balanced – as all things should be? That sounds familiar doesn’t it?… anyway you get what I mean.

Number 3, Bringing things to Life

Figuratively, that’s what animators do. 

By far the most satisfying thing about animation is the ability to bring things to life.

That is – seeing your initial ideas, goals and concepts right through to the final cut. When you experience your early scribbles from storyboarding or the character creation phase progress from a still image into a moving, breathing, thinking character there is a real buzz to it. 

Also, I’ve learnt that animation helps me in being a better Storyteller.

I suppose it started with a love of storytelling. Ever since I was young, I used to play at being a director, so I would start creating these little plays with my friends and directing them. I would produce comic strips, and I still do til this day, and create stories all the time, so as I’ve grown up, I’ve always wanted to tell stories. I suppose I also have skills from a directive, artistic and technical point of view which all marry quite well into this thing we call animation.

A good animator must also have a child-like sense of fun. I don’t just mean finding fart jokes funny, but just being able to relax and see the fun in it. Just don’t grow up too much y’all!

Last but not least, the animagination. Yes, that’s right. Creation requires AN imagination. Just being able to be able to materialize your concept in this medium is immensely satisfying when you pull it off. Even if you do flop, you’re grateful that animation even gives you the opportunity to explore your ideas so fully.

Number 4, Always Take a Break and Bounce Back

Something else I want to point out, no not you is that there are times when animation takes a heavy toll on us. Physically and mentally. Aside from long hours of sitting in front of the computer or tablet just drawing and animating, there’s a huge mental strain on coming up with ideas and also creating dialogues (because some of us love to give out characters voices right) and you gotta know when to hit that pause button. Burnouts are real. Some people might not realize it or they’d go “Burnout nahhhh that ain’t me. The only thing burning out is the money I’m spending on my bubble tea!”

You also require a whole lot of patience to see your animation really shine. Many animators start off from stickman animation, to more complex character rigging and even 3D animation. Waooow. The journey still remains the same. It takes patience and hard work to bring these characters to life. There’s no shortcuts to it and even if there were, chances are your animations may stink of laziness and turn out half baked. No offense Mr.Potato, I know that feeling. 

So yeah, I talked about Passion and Hobbies in another video and animation continues to be a big passion of mine. Sometimes the only complaints I have is that we don’t have enough time in the day to do what we really love. Because we all have day jobs and responsibilities that outweigh the love for passion points. And there’s nothing wrong with that! 

Give yourself some breathing space, take breaks if you need to (as long as you’re not under a tight deadline that requires you go deliver animations within a day or 2. Those corporate busturds!) and you’ll be perfectly fine. 

Remember that physical and mental health is your greatest wealth!

So yeah these are the four golden points I have for you to stay motivated as an animator. I’ve been drawing and animating for so many years and always stayed true to these beliefs. 

I started my YouTube channel earlier in the year as a way to build myself a community for my animations and I’m pretty thankful for the small audience that have turned up to support me. Animation isn’t the easiest route out there but trust me nothing comes easy. You have to love what you’re doing, else you’d run out of steam and burn out pretty quick in the blink of an eye.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this “animated” story and maybe it’ll help you if you’re looking to dabble in some animation of your own. I’ll see you in the next one, my bears!

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