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If you are reading this, you are likely procrastinating on your current animation, artistic endeavor, or creation.

Perhaps you made it past the giant step of actually starting your animation, but took a break shortly there after. And over time, that seemingly harmless “break” has grown from a single day to a couple weeks in length.

Perhaps you’ve tried to get back into your work by un-rusting with shorter animations. But once you open up the document, and you see the sheer amount of work that has yet to be done, you extend your hiatus for just another day.

So here’s a tip for the highly unmotivated animators out there:

Don’t do it for fun.

Yup. Ditch that idea that your projects and creations are fun to work on.

But before you jump to conclusions, please allow me to explain.

A Problem with “Fun”

fun

noun

  1. Enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.

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Let’s be absolutely clear about something: I’m not against the idea of fun!

I just think it’s an inaccurate term.

So when you say,

“It’s fun!”

I say, “Fun? What do you mean.”  And then I become the resident party-pooper at the office.

But really, I think we use fun to describe too many activities. Activities that are actually quite different from each other.
For example:

  • Playing video games on the couch is fun. Running outdoors is fun.
  • Flying 100 mph on roller coasters is fun. Sitting on a park bench is fun.
  • Partying with your friends is fun. Reading a novel by yourself is fun.
  • Eating is fun. Cooking is fun.

Watching an animation is fun. Animating is fun.

No. For me, I don’t like saying that last one.

Though, animation does seem like fun. The kind of fun you get when playing a video game or watching a movie. Or watching someone else make art. The creation of that delightful experience you enjoyed.

How awesome would it be to see my ideas come into fruition?

It looks fun!

But that’s from the consumer’s point of view. What the viewer is seeing is the product of many, many hours of focused planning, drawing, coloring, and editing by an animator. We’re talking at least dozens of hours for a decent 2 minute video. In reality, the time commitment between a viewer and the animator is massive.

And I believe those who procrastinate on their animations may have glossed over this fact.

Once you’re in the trenches of a project, the fun fades and is replaced by work. It is inevitable!

Remember: You’re working on your animation, not funning.

This is why I put so much emphasis on picking the right idea.

You have to be able to work on this project when you hit the no-fun-zone barrier.

The No-Fun-Zone

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What is this barrier?

It is the threshold at which the initial excitement and novelty of a new project ceases to interest you. Many things can prompt the no-fun-zone to appear:

  • The work is getting repetitive and tedious.
  • Your idea isn’t as cool as you thought it would be.
  • The animation is too hard, and it looks ugly.
  • You find out someone else has done something similar to your idea already.
  • You started the project for no reason at all, and now you just don’t care anymore!

This barrier appears at the end of the honeymoon phase, and it is usually around 2-3 hours into the project.

It is the death of many hopes and dreams.

Abandon Fun!

What??
We’re not supposed to have fun when animating?
Isn’t that the whole point??
Shouldn’t we take a break and animate when it is fun?
If you’re not having fun, then the work will be crappy!

If you’re doing an activity that will take dozens, maybe hundreds of hours to finish, and you’re expecting every single one of those hours of activity to be exciting, fun and enjoyable, then you’re never going to finish it.

While you are procrastinating, and waiting until you feel like doing the project, something more exciting will pop up. And with that mindset, you will choose the more fun option. The option that you feel like doing. It is the road to vaporware. Trust me, I’m familiar with it!

So give up on fun as your reason for animating. It is a sucky motivator and needs to go back to coaching school.

Over time, once you get used to working, it will become enjoyable.

Your mindset shifts from, “GRUHH. This is so much WORK.” to “Heh, this isn’t so bad!”

That’s why you see more experienced animators just clocking away at the frames. “Feeling like animating” is not even a factor. In fact, they probably WANT to animate, almost like they need to get it out of their system.

They may describe it as fun!

But really, it’s not fun in the way that an exciting video game or movie is. It is enjoyable more like working out at the gym gives you a feeling of satisfaction, or flow.

In way, you could say:

Animation becomes “fun” when you don’t do it for fun. So don’t tell yourself you do it for fun!

Understand that this is a way to combat laziness! If you are physically unable, or mentally stressed out, and you cannot focus on animating, then rest. Everyone must regulate and use my advice with some common sense.

Purpose over Fun

So this is what you must tell yourself when faced with laziness.

Animating is not “fun”.

THEN WHY THE HECK AM I DOING IT?

I don’t know, maybe you should consult the mirror and ask yourself. But I can take a couple guesses why:

  • You appreciate the beauty of animated characters
  • You want to master one of the most difficult art forms out there
  • You see the power of animation to make others feel awesome, elated, sad, or just plain entertained.
  • You want to create the illusion of life.
  • You wish to inspire others. From nothing, to an idea in your head, to the animation, all the way to an idea in someone else’s head.
  • You have a story to tell, and animation is the only form that will do it justice.

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Stop saying it’s fun. Fun is too broad a brush to sum all those reasons up.

(◙◙)

 

 

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18 thoughts on “No Fun – How to stay Motivated to Animate

  1. very good read, i like your prospective on this, having “fun” as a part of your system not having fun cuz its fun to do, looking at things in more organic way rather then being chaotic and messy and then becomes unintresting after couple of trys

  2. I can’t agree more to this, I personally think animation (while it can be) isn’t fun, but instead rewarding, I strive to see what the outcome will be, and having something finished!

  3. Holy crap, this is actually really good advice, I’ve been procrastinating to animate when I should have been doing what’s said here. I mean I WANT to animate so I can tell an awesome story, this whole time I thought it would be “fun” when I should have been thinking of it as working out at the gym. Screw this I’m gonna start animating again, even if it’s been a couple months, I know I can pick this up again and start learning/experimenting with animation.

    Thanks Michael! This is honestly the best honest advice i’ve accidentally come across. And I LOVE your work! Keep working to inspire man! I know you inspired me! 😀

  4. Man you’re right, I jump on animating for fun and many animations have you seen me do *none*, and if you did there not vary long are they

  5. Good point! I get The Point.. OH WHAT THE HECK! im 10! yrs old! And animate as if it is my work!!not even!! well i looklike its work cuz noFun LOL!!!
    YEH

  6. WOW….all my time spent…….on doing all those “funny animations”………it’s time to be more serious…….

  7. I know this isn’t the most noble goal, but I’m trying it to get noticed by the world.
    To reach above the stars, and be known among the names of Hyun, and… others!
    (also because I’m the only person at my school committed enough to actually put the effort into learning how and that’s something unique that makes me cool)

    • Hey! Identifying a goal is better than no goal at all. Whenever I ask “Why do you want to animate?” too many people reply “idk”.

  8. I love this article and practically every other motivation thing here. This one is my favorite though. It applies to much more than just animating and since I’m a writer, it helps a lot. So, uh, thanks for doing what you do and giving advice and stuff. It really is helpful, even to non-animators.

  9. Wow; I read this before and came back to read it again when I started to get bored of working on my game. Thank you Gilded Guy!

  10. This has been the most useful article that i’ve read on the subject. Thank you so much! I’ve just started animating and a lot of my classmates constantly speak about how much fun they’re having. But i don’t find animating to be fun. As you said, it’s stressful, tedious, annoying repetitive and I was worried this was the wrong career choice. But I love the power of storytelling through animation and I want to learn the trade so badly. This article has made it very clear that the problem was my understanding of the animation process and I need to change that in order to stop procastinating and get to work.

  11. I first read this post before I started animating. I was only drawing at the time, and not making moving animation. Now that I am, I can relate to this post a lot better. It is helping me continue my work, no matter how bad I feel. But, I am going to say this. If someone does want to have “fun,” then that’s okay. But, if they ONLY do it for fun, then that becomes a problem, and then your point comes into effect. I have started to drive away from “Fun in animation,” as well. (Man I talk a lot.) But it doesn’t hurt to have fun every once in a while right? The REAL fun starts when you watch the finished animation!

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