A frank discussion on procrasination, perfectionism, and fear when it comes to animating.
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Forum Insights: Animation Procrastination and Fear
Below are insightful posts from Digital Media FX forum posters on the subject of animation procrastination and fears. Some posts have been edited for length or spelling and grammar.

Post by Gordg on May 24, 2001:
This is my theory:

Procrastination is only a symptom ... "fear of failure" is the disease, and it's often accompanied by bouts of "perfectionism".

The premise is a simple one — if we don't finish, we can't fail.

This would be an easy ailment to cure, if we weren't such clever, creative people. But because we are, we have an amazing ability to fabricate plausible excuses and endless diversions, while denying our fear.

It works like this ...

Perfectionism supports our inertia, while at the same time strokes our egos. By constantly seeking better stories, images, characters etc. we are effectively preventing people from judging us ... and as a bonus, it forever hints at our potential greatness. If someone is brash enough to tell us "You never finish anything," we dismiss them as being ignorant of the complexities of the process. This also hints at our greatness and continues our denial.

If our project is completed, we fear it may not be as great as our potential suggested it should be. This would expose us as charlatans, and banish us forever to live among the gray undifferentiated masses. (a loss of our sense of uniqueness). Or more pragmatically speaking ... we wouldn't get a job (which would ultimately reflect on our sense of self worth).

And all of this happens subconsciously.

My solution ...

First, recognize procrastination for what it is ... fear of failure.

Second, avoid perfection ... it doesn't exist and it's only a distraction.

And finally remember the three rules to getting started... location, location, location. So pick up a pencil (or start your computer), put your rear in the chair, and start doing something ... anything. It doesn't matter - what's important is the doing.

That's my theory ... unfortunately I've never got around to trying it out.


Follow-Up Post by Gordg on May 25, 2001:
I didn't mean to suggest my solution is a "get tough" approach. I really think it's the opposite. We need to ease up on ourselves.

We need to look past the procrastination, and address our fear. The fear to fail. Why do we carry this albatross around?

We need to give ourselves permission to fail. Failure is a natural part of learning. We need to embrace failure and imperfection. In fact we should laugh and celebrate our mistakes, because they're a vital part of our shared struggle.

I think by embracing failure we are also giving ourselves the opportunity to play ... the freedom of movement. This is a key element in the creative process.

And finally, I believe, if you are constantly judging the pieces, you get bogged down in disjointed details. It's important to work holistically ... from the general to the specific. The creative process involves lateral thinking. (deconstructing preconceived ideas, this is often perceived as sudden insights in the form of humor -- i.e.. discovering the tunnel is only painted on.) Lateral thinking is a form of thinking that benefits from mistakes ... unlike the non creative form of vertical thinking that predominates our school systems (start at "a", go to "b", then "c", and so on) It's this system that is closed and judgmental. The creative process has to be open and accepting of new ideas (and that means opening yourself up to possible failure).


Posted by Max on May 25, 2001:
Gordg, the message of your last post can't be emphasized enough, for both beginners and vets alike. I remember when we started training before the beginning of Spirit. We spent a couple of weeks drawing horses at the Equestrian Center down the street from the studio. Most people dove into it, accepting that drawing horses well is very difficult and that we'd all make a lot of horrible drawings. There was one big-shot lead key, however, who made sure he was always set up behind everyone else as we were drawing, and who always left the sessions early. He was so paranoid that someone would see and judge his drawings. Of course the training was mostly wasted on him.

Embrace failure (or rather the potential of failure), and think laterally. Words to live by.


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