Staying inspired

Here is a small list of inspirational tips that I want to share. Some might seem obvious, but are still worth repeating. I hope they can be useful to you.

Make sure your opinions are heard.

Nothing can ruin your inspiration more than being a drone, without any creative input in the work you do. It's important that you get to inject some of your ideas and thoughts in your work. And though they may not always be the best decisions, at least they are your own. If you know that you are actually making a difference, you will grow creatively, and as a result stay inspired.

And it follows, if you are a creative supervisor or director, it's important that you let people working under you make their own decisions. Micro-managing your workers make you look over-protective, it's demeaning and causes stress.

Don't spend the night fighting the project.

Too many late nights struggling with some drawing detail, render bug or other problem is destructive. Leave early, get some time away from the screen. Then your mind will be more relaxed and better suited to solve the problem you're up against. Repeated late nights banging your head against problems will eat you up inside out. If this means losing a deadline or milestone, so be it. There's more to life than milestones. It's more important that you have long-term energy, than for you to reach every single deadline.

And leave when you're on a roll.

You've just solved a major problem, you're feeling great and have energy for a couple more hours of late evening work. That's the perfect time to get away from your desk and leave for the day! Then you'll leave your desk with a positive memory of working, full of energy you can spend the next working day.

Remember the things that inspire you.

Whenever you get a rush of inspiration, make a mental note of what is causing it. You can then re-visit these sources of inspiration on a bad day. I have a very long list of things that give me inspiration; good music, films from specific directors, my figures and toys, Star Wars art books, lego sets, good literature, walks in nature and so on. I've even made a little book of pictures and photos that give me an creativity boost. Whenever I feel exhausted and empty, I just visit the things on my list, or browse through my little book.

One thing to note though: Make sure you have inspiration sources outside your computer. Surfing for inspiration, or having folders of inspirational images doesn't quite tickle the brain as getting outside or leafing through a physical book. Doing something physical triggers more areas in the brain than just a screen with images.

And be sure to differentiate between feeling good and feeling inspired. For example, eating food makes me feel good, but it doesn't make me feel inspired!

Identify what is killing your inspiration.

Just as important as keeping track of the things that inspire you, is to figure out what is killing your inspiration. Then you can simply avoid those negative sources. In my case these things happen to be people and types of projects. I do a lot of work in the advertising business, and some people there can be extremely negative and condescending. I simply stay away from people that are like that, trying instead to be in the company of people that inspire and support me. It's the same with work, there are some types of projects I just can't stand doing. Don't be afraid to say no, even if it's good money - your health is more important than your wallet.

Make sure being at work brings positive associations.

Some times work can be painfully repetitive and boring, and you only want to go home and relax with friends, partner or family. You start thinking everyone at work talks like idiots, and holidays seem way too far away. If that's the case, make sure you identify why you are feeling like that. Being negative at work is extremely contagious, and it can really hurt an otherwise nice workplace. It spreads to your colleagues, they turn negative, and suddenly you are on this downward spiral of negativity. If you are fond of the people you work with, it is very important that you get positive associations with being at work. Remember to have fun with your colleagues during working hours and outside of work: play videogames at lunch, be social and have dinners together, make fun of clients, take time for seminars and take time to relax.


Some days you just can't get started with anything. Here's what I do: I just open the software and my current project file. Sometimes that can be the biggest hurdle. The empty screen looking at you can become an obstacle itself. If you just open the software and start looking through your file you may find that you slowly start working again.

I had that problem with this website for quite some time. I just couldn't get to work on it, and weeks would pass with no progress at all. But as soon as I managed to open my HTML editor and started looking through the files I found stuff here and there that I wanted to fix. Now I just load up the project I'm working on as soon as I switch on my machine, and without knowing it I'm working again.

Lost in procrastions for weeks?

Now, if you find yourself procrastinating a lot - almost all the time, that could be a symptom of something else. Do you need a longer break, perhaps taking time off work? Do you really enjoy your job, or should you consider doing something else?

That leads me to the final point:

And finally - be sure you actually do the things you want.

Do you want to be an animator, but all you do is compositing? Are you spending all your time modeling, but would rather develop your drawing skills? Quit what you're doing, and get on with what you really want to do. Tell your company what you want to do. If they don't agree, quit the company. Life is too precious and short to be spent on an unsatisfying job. Get on with what you want to do! Just do it!