So you want to be an animator, huh? Sounds like it would be fun, right? Sittin' around, drawing all day? Piece of cake, hm?
I wouldn't jump to conclusions there, friend. Animating comes with a whole bunch of responsibilties and hard work. Espcecially if you are just now dipping into that pool. Well, friend, feast your eyes upon your saviour as I am about to lay down a whole bunch of knowledge and wisdom up in here.
So without further ado, lets delve in, shall we?
Step 1: Work Load
Don't be the person who plans too big for themselves. If you expect too much from yourself even though you are only just starting out, things aren't going to come to even being close to what you want. If you plan more moderately things will definitely go better for you. Because in all honesty, between the scripting, the recording, the audio editing, the storyboard, the animatic, the actual animation, the colouring, the every infuriating bumps in the road, actually putting what you have together, s#!ts gonna get cray-cray real fast. And if you go way above and beyond yourself, just imagine what that's going to be like.
Lesson learned: Be reasonable and plan for what you are sure you can accomplish.
Step 2: Social Life
This is a tricky one friend. You can either be super-popular and have tons of fun with your friends and let your work suffer, or become a shut-in who has conversations with their cat and let your work flourish. Of course, you can always try for that happy medium but lord knows how hard that can be. You can go to that movie with your friends and maybe get some pizza afterwards, but you could also be working on that one scene you really need to get done. You could probably see the movie and then not get pizza, but who doesn't love pizza, man? I know I do. I couldn't turn down pizza. Maybe I watched to much TMNT as a kid...
Lesson Learned: Be smart about how you balance these two worlds. Nobody wants to be a crazy cat lady/gent, but any animator who really cares about their work is going to want to have the best animationt they can be. Strive for that happy medium.
Step 3: Deadlines
Chances are if you are becoming an animator, there is some reason for it. And chances are if you are doing this animation for something, there is going to be a deadline. And you are going to have to make that deadline, by strategically planning out each minute of everyday to give yourself enough time to sleep and complete it. These things take all kinds of time, and when you have a limit of the time you get to work on it, then the stress just increases tenfold. And don't even get me started on what its like to just wing it and hope that your future-self will magically work out just the right amount of time to get it done. I don't think your itty-little hearts could take it.
Lesson Learned: Actually have a plan if you need to make a deadline. If its for fun, it doesn't really matter whether or not it gets finished in a certain amount of time, but this is serious. Strategy will become your new best friend.
Step 4: Mid-tro
And those are just the basics. So many things can go wrong and when they do, there will be consequences. Sometimes big, sometimes small, depends on the situation, but nonetheless they are consequences. In this next little tidbit, I will be showing you two of the biggest consequences (and most frequent) that I and my friends have encountered due to either bad-planning, not minding our work-loads or even taking our social lives too seriously above our work. I recently took an animation class, and I can speak from personal experience that if you don't take those lessons to heart, you're going to regret it as much as my friends and I did.
And so, if you're ready, let's venture on.
Step 5: Stress
Many, many a times will occur where you just want to rip your hair out and punch a few holes in a wall even if you took precautions and planned as I have said. But let me tell you, when you don't have that planning, it only grows much worse. Say you gave yourself too much work, but then thought that you could make it if you work hard enough and then you get caught up in friends too much, neglect your work, and don't even plan out the rest of your time you have to complete the animation. You're going to end up with a week left and still much work to be done, and let me tell you its not fun. The constant worrying of if you are going to make it on time, the building anger while things start to not go like you had wanted as you are now rushing and scrambling to finish, and even worse. Its one hell of a time, I can assure you that.
Step 6: Sleep Deprivation
Now you are trying to pull late nights to give yourself more time to make up for the time you missed while the sun was still shining. Hours build up and soon it gets harder each night to stay awake as long as you could. Your sleeping schedule gets messed up and you find yourself constantly sleeping in by accident and are really feeling those side-effects of not resting well enough. Your work actually ends up getting worse, as you get clumsier, the more tired you get, all sorts of stuff. And don't even get me started on having to suddenly pull an absolute all-nighter due to complications that could have been worked out if you hadn't put the animation off so much.
Step 7: Conclusion
Being an animator is hard work, especially when you are just starting out, but if you work hard on both the project and pacing yourself in terms of what the situation calls for, it becomes pretty worth it in the end. Things will go wrong and it will be tough, but I would go with the cliche of its a long hard journey but its all worth it in the end or something or other.
I hope you found this useful, and that you can use it to help get you started in animation. I wish you the best of luck (trust me, you may need it later).