Sunday, 14 March 2010

Could Animation be Incompatible with Writing?

When I set out to learn the craft of writing, it was with the warm and fuzzy notion that my animation and the writing would be complementary pursuits. I could spend my morning slaving over a hot computer animating away, then while away the afternoons with a pen and pad churning out my next novel. But it is in the nature of a creative fantasist to give a rosy colour to such plans without any serious thought to the murky realities.

Having just spent over two months on a short promotional film I've now had my bubble of delusions well and truly popped. Rather than catch up on the odd bit of writing in the evenings, I found myself unable to write a word, I simply felt drained and my faculties to write withered. This longer production has shown me that my reasoning and creative energies need to be directed to the one task, leaving little room for anything else. I have begun to wonder if the same should not be true of the reverse; if I am going to write a novel, shouldn't all my energies be given over to that? I'm aware that there are plenty of people who work at another job whilst quietly writing a book in their spare time. But I wonder if those jobs use the same parts of the mind as writing. If it doesn't, it could well be an advantage, giving the person time to muse over their writing when they are not doing it, or allowing their subconscious mind to process some problem when their thoughts are directed elsewhere. But in my case, it feels like I'm using the same parts of my brain for both animation and writing, and to split my time between two tasks slows me down and leaves me feeling tired and concerned that the quality of my work is suffering. Additionally there are my little rewards. I'm a very simple person to please really; my rewards are simply to be able to finish what I'm working on, or at least achieve some milestone and finish a section of the project I'm working on. When this happens, I get a little endorphin rush and feel good, this in turn encourages me to get on with the next thing. But if I split my time between two projects I end up spending half my time on each, it takes me twice as long to finish and consequently my little work fixes are not so frequent (unless everything is carefully staggered, and sadly life just doesn't work that conveniently). So I start to lose focus, then interest, I slow down and (worse still) start to procrastinate.

When it comes down to it, two months of no weekends or evenings is the limit for any task, whether animation or writing. So for the next few months at least, I intend to focus solely on my writing. Perhaps after that I will need a break and go back to some more animation work. Indeed maybe this should be the way I work in future, oscillating slowly between one and the other, switching before it becomes dull and always keeping the edge, whether it is with the moving image or the written word.


  1. Hi Simon,

    I hope your new workplan works for you. You've got me thinking about creative juice now, we all have a limited supply, some have more than others, some days we have more than other days, if only damned scientists could designate 'creative juices' then we could buy bottles of it from the high st, I guess for now we'll have to make do with what caffeine throws at us during times when the tank's empty!

  2. Caffeine and alcohol, the two legally available drugs of choice for writers –couldn't make it without them.


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