When I lived in Vancouver, I was lucky enough to get a decent half hour every weekday to read some books whilst I got the train into the city. I probably read more in those few months than I've read in the last 10 years! but one that really stood out to me was "Coaching the Artist Within" by Eric Maisel. I`m not going to talk about the book other than recommending it - but instead, just one of the things the author discussed that was really interesting to me.
He spoke about how we require mental energy to create our art, the same way that you would require energy to perform a physical task. If you stop and think about it for a minute, it takes an immense amount of concentration to make animation work... you literally have to think really hard around the problems you encounter, and all this thinking actually requires a form of energy other than the sustenance your brain gets from your breakfast.
Now lets just say I usually start to get very skeptical about this stuff around this point, and I don't want to sound like a $6.99 "whale songs" CD... but the truth is that inspiration is the source of this energy we need to animate well. It builds a fuel that our minds need in order to create.
So the point of this post... I've found something that is really helping me here at work is to watch the latest work movies in the morning. I get in, have some coffee and read my e-mail, then I load up all the most recent animation videos from the previous day ( and usually the lighting videos ) and I just sit back and watch them for 20 minutes or so. Now I know in the back of my mind that I'm deliberately doing something to build inspiration, and I notice that for the first few minutes, but then a start experiencing the stuff, and seeing how bloody amazing it is... and it really does build an eagerness to get to work and continue on my shots. Its good fun!, and a great way to start the work day on a whole variety of levels. If I don't do this.. its like I'm starting to work on a very difficult task with the same groggy brain I drove down the motorway with... I'm still thinking about some unimportant e-mail I have to write... I end up having to build inspiration from my own acheivments as I work through my shot, which is obvioulsy a much harder and slower process.
What I'm suggesting is to find something very literal that you can use for inspiration every day. I'm the same way in that the sounds of the city, or the smells of the breeze in the morning can inspire me to want to create - but I can't count on things like this.. they come and go. If you have a means to watch the most recent work of your colleagues, that's a great and very black and white thing you can do to build inspiration. If not, try reading a chapter from an animation book each morning ( Walt Stanchfield anyone? ) or finding a website that has consistent good animation to watch, or maybe get a bunch of DVDs of movies you like and watch 15 minutes every morning just to get the creativity moving around in your early morning mind. The key of course is for it to be something consistent, that you can rely on, that you do every day.