Finding Inspiration

If you are trying to get inspired for your next animation, then, you need to be an animation consumer. How can anyone call themselves a good animator if they don’t watch other animations?

Watch animated movies, animated shorts, animated TV shows from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Anime. Make this a daily routine. Spend some time every day watching animations.

If you have no time, try to spend at least 20 min on an episode from a random animated show. With this as a daily routine, you can apply the next “ritual” to get your mind full of ideas.

Relax, Be comfortable

You can’t be inspired if you are under stress. That’s basic. So to get inspired, the first thing you need to do is relax, forget your problems, give yourself some love, you deserve it.

There are many ways to relax, the most basic one is just closing your eyes for 5 to 10 minutes and breathe slowly.

Then get on with relaxing thoughts such as contemplating someone you like, it can be that special someone, or your best friend, or a beautiful scenery (even your pet).

Anything goes. You can even go to your fantasies, maybe you dream of being a super hero, or having financial independence, traveling.

Now, sitting for 5 to 10 minutes with eyes closed can work for introverts. What about extraverts?

You can go for a walk (or you could try jogging), pay attention to people, your surroundings, what’s happening in the world?

If you see someone, create a story out of them. If they're waiting for the bus, try to guess where are they going? Could they be late for work? Or running away from it? What problems or joys do they have?

Once you are relaxed you can now add in the first main ingredient for inspiration:

Curiosity

Ask questions to yourself. A lot of them! Keep questions coming one after the other. You could start with yourself: What am I doing here? How come I have no idea for my next story? Or you could pick someone you know: Why was Ralph so angry today? Is he going to hate me from now on?

Get Ready to Take Notes

Now that you closed your eyes for 10 minutes or went jogging or for a walk, you are now relaxed. Guess what? You are set to go. You need one of two things:

  1. A voice recorder (most smart phones have an app to record voice, If not, get one). Or
  2. A note pad (it can be digital or pen and paper, I use my phone)

What for? Well, to catch any good ideas that go through your mind. Ideas don’t have to make much sense, all you need is to feel something when you have them. If you start to get excited, take a note.

If you get a little angry, take a note. If you feel frustrated, take a note. If you laugh about something, take a note. If you feel like you are falling in love, take a note. Any feeling deserves a note, but this is important, there has to be a feeling.

Ideas that generate a negative feeling can add a lot of power to your story, remember that your characters have to go through difficult times before they triumph. Or if it’s a tragedy, remember that before they ultimately fail, they need to be about to win.

So, again, any idea that makes you feel something deserves a note. The feeling can be positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. But you need to feel something.

Getting Inspired: The process

Ok, you are relaxed, have high levels of curiosity and have your note-taking-device ready (voice recorder or notebook). And also, you know that any idea that makes you feel something deserves to be recorded. So what’s next? Now, time to look for some secrets!

Go to www.postsecret.com

PostSecret is a site where people can anonymously post a secret. So you can find all sort of things in there. This is one of my favorite sites to get my brain working.

An example from this site can be: “I put up a fake electrical box and sign to keep my neighbor from snooping in my yard!” This made me laugh. If you are relaxed and open, with high levels of curiosity, you can get a story.

Why is “this character” (the person who posted the secret) so upset as to go as far as to put up a fake electrical box? This could work for a comedy, as well as a drama. “Drama you say?” Yeah. Think about it… To solve a simple problem, sometimes you need to create a big lie, using fake evidence.

Having this in mind, I could go for a mature story about someone who cheats on her boyfriend and tries not to get caught, using fake evidence. Or maybe a very old person who creates fake evidence to avoid going to the funeral of his son. Or a little kid who creates fake evidence to make his bullies scared of him.

The point is: Find a problem and a solution.

Now, how do you know what secrets are worth considering for exploration? Well, simple. The ones that make you feel a little something. Sadness, joy, frustration, hate, tenderness, pity. PostSecret is my favorite, but if you are more of a visual person, you could try sites like DeviantArt or Pinterest, and find images that simulate you.

Search for keywords that you might find interesting like: Murder, crime, love, victory, aliens, werewolves, etc. Depending on the genre you are looking for, you can adjust your search. Sometimes one simple image can make you very curious. What is the character trying to do? Or why is the earth destroyed? Is it the apocalypse?

Conflict and Obstacles

Your mission when looking PostSecret, DeviantArt or Pinterest, is to find the conflict behind it. Some are very obvious and very stimulating, like: “When my friend lost her cat… I never told her it was my dog that killed it”.

If your curiosity is high enough, you will ask: “Did this person hide the body? Was this person in love with her? For what reason did this person not tell her the truth? Are they enemies? Best friends? If they are best friends, why not tell her? Could she try to kill this person’s dog? What can happen if she finds out?

You see how conflict and curiosity can get you started with your next story? Sometimes the conflict is not obvious and you need to ask more questions to find what’s beneath it. For example: “Twenty-five years of marriage, and he’s still never heard me fart”

If you have your curiosity high, a quick question could be: “Or has he?” What if he has heard her fart, but he lies to her, saying that he has never heard her. What if she has so low self-esteem that the husband needs to lie to make her feel good? Or if she’s so good at hiding things, what other things can she be hiding from him? Could she have other lovers? Or is she a serial killer?

Curiosity and conflict is your goal. Find a simple idea and ask questions. Make it a lot of questions.

Conclusion

So to wrap things up, you need to:

  1. Have a daily routine of being an animation consumer, all the jokes, drama, problems get stored in your subconscious, so when an idea pops into mind, you can apply it in many different ways.
  2. You need to be relaxed.
  3. Increase your curiosity
  4. Be ready to take notes
  5. Explore Sources of Inspiration
  6. Get the Conflict and Obstacles from all your ideas

Once you have all your questions and ideas in a note pad or a recording, you are now ready to start working on your next animation. CHEERS!