Actually, I sleep as much as I can! And while I do get my fair share of restless nights and 3am attacks of inspiration that leave my brain spinning like a car careening off the M6 after just being hit by a ten tonne truck, I do get my 8 hours a night as often as I can and I can’t emphasize how important that is and how important it is for people to know that
in the creative world there’s this sort of glorification of insomnia and the notion of ‘working all the time’, that an artist has to suffer, that every self respecting cartoonist or animator or painter has to be driven to the point of exhaustion every waking hour in order for them to be allowed to call themselves an artist, that if you are not working you are wasting time and being a self indulgent twat (in a nutshell). I am here to tell you that is not true, and it is not healthy to think that it is true.
I often get people asking me where I get my ideas from, or more often how I get so many ideas and so quickly. I can’t answer that very easily but I know for a fact that the times that I have been stressed and sleepless and a nervous wreck I have not been able to come with good ideas. I have certainly not been able to come up with them quickly.
Ideas need time, your brain needs time, and that time can’t be simultaneously occupied with you worrying about your taxes or whether you ate something this morning or why the cat is on fire. Imagination time is a state of rest, it is a sort of meditation; you need to feel at ease in order to be able to play, because that’s what imagining things is when it gets down to it. Children don’t play when they know there’s a axe-wielding maniac in the room, and they don’t play when they’re cross and tired and angry at the world for being unfair and awake and much too loud. That’s when they cry, and the more people I meet and the more I learn about myself and humans as a whole the more I’ve come to realize that there is no bigger fiction than the concept of ‘being an adult’. Your mind and my mind are just as sensitive, creative and special as they were when we were five years old, we just have a lot more information to deal with, and knowledge to manipulate, and that can be used to our benefit! So long as we don’t keep sending ourselves to sit in detention.
It can be very difficult to find this sort of ‘peace’ to think in, which is why people often have their ideas in the dead of night, or in the shower, or on the bus into work; it is those gaps between the frantic thought that the rest of life demands from us that our minds are allowed to drift, make sparks with synapses that they haven’t used for a long time or smash together two thoughts that they never connected before, but which then go on to make something new. I can’t sit here and tell you to ‘make time to think’, but I can tell you that you shouldn’t think that you should be doing something all the time every second of every day.
Yes, draw every day, that’s great, and doodling is amazing oh my goodness yes doodling is like super fab and covered in glitter, but don’t draw all the time. You have to rest, not just your hand and wrist to avoid physical strain, but you have to rest your mind; it will help you to stay sane and happy, and it will help you to create more and better work than ever before. Working to the point of self destruction is counter productive and dangerous, and I hate the modern myth that surrounds it. It promotes nothing but insecurity about yourself and your work and is a guaranteed one-way ticket to carpel tunnel town and the therapist.