Trundling on with animation

I must catch up on my animation.
I must catch up on my animation.
I must catch up on my animation.
I can’t be arsed to catch up on my animation... 

No. I certainly can, but it does help to schedule some extra time for it. I’m about four weeks into my ‘learn animation project’ and I have to say so far I’m pretty pleased with some of the progress I’ve made. Whilst I always want to do more, it’s really important to take stock of what I have achieved. At the start of the project, I didn’t know how to use After Effects, yet now I can have an idea, and follow it through within After Effects. I'm stoked to go from nothing to something. 

The past 30 days have given me access to a new medium of expression. I won’t often admit it, but that is pretty damn cool. Whilst I'm realising that what I know if After Effects is the tip of the iceberg, I do feel competent with what I know and confident to learn more.  

And yes I will catch up on my animation (and will schedule extra time to do it, I promise).

What have I learned so far about learning?

In honour of 30(ish) days I figured I’d total up some of the learning and beliefs that have emerged from my practice so far; it will serve as useful reminder to myself later down the line.

It’s easier with friends - Working on something with friends gives you outer accountability, not everyone needs this but it’s going to be beneficial for most. If it’s not accountability you want, think of it as a shared adventure; more exciting and rewarding than going it alone. It's great if your friend can ask you “How did your writing go today?” and you can ask them right back “Good, have you taken your photograph today?”. #teamworkmakesthedreamwork

Sometime’s it’s shit. Sometimes it’s shit hot - There are numerous quotes that sum up this concept; "If you want to make a masterpiece, you have to be willing to create a little garbage along the way" is one example. When you’re learning something new and you’re doing it each day, life is going to get in the way at some point, and so it’s important to value just showing up. That’s why I like the idea that showing up matters, and that you also need to get all the bad ideas out of the way. Just because one day I might make something which is only ‘okay’ doesn’t mean that tomorrow it won’t be totally awesome.

Enjoy small victories - So some days I do experience this ‘ughness' about doing my animation or design. It’s strange because I do want to do it. I decided to do it and was all excited before Christmas about this exciting new animation project. But it is difficult and it is daily and so it does take some starting energy. This is why it’s important to enjoy the victories. Enjoy a new shortcut you learn, enjoy reflecting on the thing made yesterday, or the total sum of last weeks work! The reason I chose to do my 365 project is not to enjoy what I make in a day, but all I can make in a year. 

The 2 minute rule - I’ve also heard of other varieties such as the one minute rule (eh?). The logic is simple: anything you can complete in two minutes, you might as well do. Anything you can start in two minutes, you may as well start. It's simple, but I use this concept occasionally and I don’t really like it...because I almost always end up doing more. Shine my shoes? Well I gueeeees I can start it within 2 minutes...damn.

Plan & schedule - Life is often unpredictable so it’s important to schedule your time in throughout the week, this both reminds you of commitments and helps prevent you overburdening yourself with too much. When scheduling you must always leave free time because a; life is unpredictable and b; it often takes longer than you think. The key is to give yourself less to do if you know your week will be a busier one.

Overestimation and underestimation - This is something I’ve read and heard repeatedly, and it’s one of the reasons I first came into my 365 day challenge. I will always overbook myself for what I expect to achieve in a day, and typically underestimate what can be achieved long term. But by giving 30-60 minutes a day over a month or two, I can create a lot of stuff and that momentum helps carry me through. 

Create a trigger with a song - People often call this habit pairing. So when I sit down to learn animation I always do this other thing. And this other activity or habit is a means of signalling my brain each time, that we need to get down to work because our trigger is happening. I read about always listening to a specific song when you begin work, and so when I sit down to animate I listen to Causing a commotion by Madonna, on repeat 5 times...or sometimes for as long as it takes me to finish.

Frequency + consistency = success - This one is quite simple. But they key thing I've found with learning something new is that frequency is key. Whether its weekly or daily you need to keep that commitment because any missteps early can make you give up a habit. The more frequent, the better. I feel like the momentum provided by frequency and consistency has stopped me giving up so many times. I also tend to think of it from an identity point of view. "I'm the kind of person who decides to do personal challenges that last a year, so I need to do this thing because that is what I do". 

Creativity bully - Finding, or in my case being, a creative bully can be really useful. Those types of people tend to be good for encouraging or finding the people that want to create more things as well. Going back to my first point it's easier with friends. So find your inner creative bully.

Bonus: Find your tendency - I've recently become a big fan of Gretchen Rubin this year, and her ideas and her 'four tendencies' framework can be really helpful in terms of finding out what makes you able to complete inner and outer expectations. I won't bore you with it here so here's an article here with more info

I'll leave it at that, as my fingers are a bit tired now. Looking back I'm reminded of that I really need to use some of these approaches much more.

All the best!
Dan.