Let’s Burn Out!

Sometimes, let’s face it, you just feel too darn productive. You want, nay, NEED to feel the comforting grip of overwhelming despair, and desire to do nothing but stare at the wall (and simultaneously desperately NOT want to just stare at the wall). Unfortunately all you feel right now is excited anticipation to get things accomplished.

You need to burn out, and fast.

But how?

Here are five simple ways to get off the road to success and find a warm pit of misery to jam yourself down into.

1. Get Overwhelmed

If you aren’t feeling burnt out, you probably aren’t looking hard enough at the to-do list for the foreseeable rest-of-your-life. It’s quite possible that your to-do list only contains a few, manageable items for only today. You might have foolishly not made a to-do list at all! It’s time to change that.

Steps for Burning Out in Art #1

First, look at the totality of everything you have to do. It’s massive, isn’t it? You’d be hard pressed to find a human being that would be able to accomplish something like that. On a piece of paper, list everything you need to do. EVERYTHING. Realize how important almost all the items are, and how they all need to be done ASAP. Feel the creeping despair? Good, you’re well on your way to burning out. If you start to complete one of the items and feel better about your progress, just return to the list and see how much is still left to do. Your spirit will be crushed again, don’t worry.

2. Know That You Suck

If things are rolling along smoothly and it seems like stuff is getting done, stop what you’re doing for a moment and remember that you are not good at art. Oh sure, you can do average art some of the time (on good days) but look at the other artists you follow on Twitter or Facebook. They are amazing. You will never be that amazing. They have a magic natural talent you don’t.

You also should have started sooner. When you were five, you were doing stupid stuff like chasing butterflies and pretending to have a pet dragon. You could have been drawing or learning to use a graph editor! What a waste. You will never catch up now, and catching up is THE most important thing. Don’t settle for doing as well as you can do now, because that’s not as good as your animation heroes. Whatever you do, don’t think about the fact that once upon a time they were in your shoes, also struggling. Pretend like they came out of the womb amazing animators, and have never felt self-doubt.

3. Do Nothing But Work

Parties are overrated. Sleep is overrated. Friends, food, and taking time to appreciate the incredible natural world around you are all overrated. They are all things that stand to steal away your time; time that could be spent working. Slam your office door shut and proclaim “No! I will not let anything distract me from my career! It is too important!”

If the scary thought that perhaps life is bigger than just a career starts to enter your head, drink some more coffee and get back to work. Nothing drowns out those thoughts like more work. After all, if you’re spending so much energy and time on your career, it HAS to be important, right? Right.

Surely this is true!
Surely this is true!
4. Move Up Some Deadlines

If you aren’t successfully burning out, you may not be stressed enough. Stress is a wonderful tool to help you burn out. Sometimes stress needs a little bit of help, though.

If you have a deadline, make sure it’s unrealistic. The worst thing you can do is set realistic deadlines, because then you’ll meet them without staying up all night or neglecting your family and friends. Managing your time wisely is for hippies. If you’re not pulling your hair out as you watch the clock draw closer to your doom, the deadline isn’t impossible enough. Be unreasonable!

5. Go Read About Animation

Do you find yourself doing too much animation, and finishing shots or scenes or- shudder- entire cartoons? It sounds to me like you aren’t reading enough about HOW to do animation. You’re foolishly rushing right into the process and learning by doing. Gaining experience. What sort of madness is this? Would you want a surgeon operating on you who was “learning by doing?” No! That quack would accidentally remove your bladder, and wouldn’t you feel stupid then! Since animation is directly comparable to surgery, this analogy makes sense.

Put down you pencil or stylus and close Maya or Toon Boom. Open up your browser window and do a search for “How to do better animation.” Don’t find what you’re looking for? Go join Reddit and ask in the forums there. While you wait for responses that will guide you towards greatness, check out the Gif section and watch the baby otters flop around in the water. They’re adorable!

Note: If someone responds with some advice like “You need to just get started and practice,” smile politely and look for better advice filled with links to animation articles. The people who say to actually do animation in order to improve are not going to help you burn out. They should be avoided.

What If You Don’t Want To Burn Out?

Now, I SUPPOSE it’s possible if you DIDN’T want to burn out, you could technically do the opposite of the advice above. I scratch my head why you’d want to keep approaching your passion everyday with gusto and enthusiasm, excreting productivity like a tree frog oozes poison. Wouldn’t you be happier feeling overwhelmed and going through the motions?

And by happier, of course, I mean miserable. And in the end, isn’t that what happiness is?

Well, no, but stop bringing reason and logic into this discussion. This is a post on feeling lousy, darn it. Take your positive enthusiasm elsewhere, or better yet, go do something useful to the world. If you need me, I’ll be snuggled into this blanket of gloom, thank you very much.

The Blanket of Burnout

This blanket smells funny and really itches.

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MrCromartie1989Jesse J. JonesTom HinkRW103Toonio Recent comment authors
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All you are missing is go and work in Vancouver! :p

Good article guys, keep it up!


This is hilarious and also extremely true. How many times do I do these very things? Time and time again I burn out because I refuse to stop a bit and be reasonable. And I will do it all again tomorrow. It is my curse, curses.

Tom Hink
Tom Hink

Someone specifically helping make burning out a reality! Finally! 😛

Jesse J. Jones

Haha, I love snarky writing like this! This came at a very appropriate time for me too. Definitely learned some hard lessons about spreading myself too thin with too much work and too short of deadlines. Really great reminders! 🙂


Ha I have been crazy guilty of this list, especially the sleep part.