Here's something I posted on the Animation Mentor forums a few months back.  I don't really consider myself someone who's in a position to be doling out animation advice to anyone, but these are a handful of tips that I've come across over the years that have helped me.  I can't really take credit for most of this advice, since I probably just read a lot of it somewhere else.  I don't mean to take credit for someone else's ideas, I just can't remember who they belong to now.  Anyway, I hope they help you as much as they have me.

 -Give your work your undivided attention at all times.  If it’s worth doing, it’s worth shutting off the movie or your facebook page or the music.  Trust me, all of those things can wait a few hours.

-If you get stuck, get help.  Ask someone else, get feedback, look for inspiration, don’t wander around and hope it comes to you later.

-Character.  Don’t just be a doctor, be a an absent-minded doctor, be a stressed out doctor, be rude, be preoccupied, be concerned.  Be specific.

-Subtext.  Every character is thinking about more than just what they’re doing.  Every action has a why, not just a what.

-The second you find out what you want in a shot, get it down on paper.  Write it, draw it, time it out.  Ride that creative wave as soon as it hits, or you may forget it.

-Don’t be married to your work.  You will toss out ideas and poses.  So work quickly and don’t be afraid to be wrong.

-Be consistent.  It can be easy to fall in love with the way a random pose looks graphically.  But if it’s not consistent with the character from ten frames ago, it’s worthless.  Don’t change a character’s attitude unless there’s a reason to.

-Time is the death of a fun idea.  Work as fast as your inspiration will let you.  If you spend a week thinking about the perfect way to do something, you’ll run out of steam by the time it comes around to doing it.  Passionate work that’s done in a week is ten times better than stale work that’s been worked over for six months.

-Trust your gut.  You may not know how to fix what’s wrong, but trust that you can know when something’s not quite right.

-If an idea does get stale, Show it to someone else.  A fresh laugh is always a nice reminder that you’re on the right track.

-Don’t let other people’s work depress you.  It can be really easy to let the quality of someone else’s work intimidate you.  And if you let it, it can take the wind out of your sails.  Just remember, there will always be someone better than you.  Remember that you love this art form.  Treat it like looking at a great painting and enjoy it!  Don’t be so self-conscious that you can’t let something great inspire you.

-Giving feedback helps you as much as it helps the person you’re giving it to.  The only way to sharpen your eyes is to analyze other people’s work.

-Never look down your nose at anyone’s work.  Anyone who has the patience and passion to do this job is worth your time to help if you can.  When I first started I used to have a hard time critiquing really sub-par work.  What’s the point, it’s obvious they’re never going to get it, right?  Wrong!  Everyone has a point in their career when they’re terrible at this.  That’s because this art form is insanely difficult!  Remember that someone took the time to help you when you weren’t so good.  Even if your advice won’t make their work a masterpiece, give it anyway.  It’s not about making someone’s work perfect or fixing all of their mistakes.  It’s about pushing them to the next level.  It’s about getting them to their next “Ah-ha!” moment where something clicks into place for them.  And let’s not forget you may end up working with them some day!

-Every time you hit a wall, remember that it’s because you’re about to learn something new.  Don’t stress out if you can’t find an answer to a shot right away.  You’ll get there.  Don’t be afraid of it, because it’s eventually what’s going to push you to the next level.

-Don’t let super-talented people scare you.  There are lots of folks out there that make it look easy.  Trust me, even to them, this is the hardest thing they’ve ever done.  The truth is, talent only takes you so far.  Just because you have a golden arm, doesn’t mean you’ll pitch in the majors.  The ones that get the call up to the majors are the ones that have taken the time every day to get better.  Even the first round draft pick out of high school has been playing for at least 15 years.  (Okay enough with the baseball analogies!)  The point is, the secret’s not in the talent, it’s in the trying.

-Remember that first and foremost, animation has to be entertaining.  That’s why we watch this stuff, right?  To be entertained.  It’s easy when you’re a student to get caught asking questions like, “Does this shot show off my abilities properly to a potential employer?”  Those questions are important to a certain extent, but when push comes to shove, it has to be entertaining.  If a recruiter has to choose between a shot that’s well-animated but boring and a shot that might be a little rough around the edges but it makes them laugh, I’d be willing to wager they watch the second one twice.  Wouldn’t you? 

So when you start a new shot or exercise, don’t think to yourself, “should I do a more dramatic piece to show off my acting range to an employer?”  Think, “Is this entertaining?”  “Would I watch this more than once if it wasn’t mine?”

-Above all else, do this for yourself.  Don’t animate for a friend or a parent or recruiter.  I think that’s something I finally found out after the rush of school was over and I had to start looking for work.  If you don’t get a kick out of a shot you’re working on for your reel, you’re working on the wrong shot.  If you don’t absolutely love the idea that you’re animating, it’s going to show.  It sounds obvious, but if it’s not funny to you, it’s not going to be funny to anyone else.  Animate what you like.  Not only will it turn out better, but it’s also a much better representation to a recruiter of who you are as an animator.  You’ve got the whole rest of your career to animate what someone else thinks you should, use the time you’ve got now to make something you can be proud of!

-Part of putting your work out there in the open is being honest with where your skill level is at.  If you’re not the best animator in the world yet, that’s okay!  If you know you’ve got some areas to work on still, you won’t fix them by sitting on your hands.  Own up to where you’re at skill-wise.  You busted your butt to get to where you are, be proud!  If you never start, you’ll never finish.

So get going already!