The need to nerd comes a couple of ways, an epiphany that requires immediate attention, something dawns on you and weighs on your mind, or you doodle and dabble and it becomes apparent you have a knack for this thing you always gravitate to. Artist usually start like this and if you or others notice they might push you to acquire the science (skills and techniques) in order to apply it all. We call this channeled to get a job. It is good to get paid but the initial calling to art is more transparent than practical. I know because once you get the skills to apply it in specific ways, you strive to bring your unique signature to the forefront.
Consider the Japanese way of training under a master, coping stroke for stroke. Over time you are so related to the spirit of the master, but the twist is that a new flavor emerges, an extension, a going farther. John Coltrane was my jazz hero, his son Ravi can continue on and/or go off in other directions. I hear his father, the father and the son and the son by himself. I listen to other jazz musicians play Coltrane songs, I hear Coltrane's phrasing and I hear the unique expressions of those other jazz musicians also.
Nerding is the process, the obsession, to make the skills and techniques second nature so that they follow you, not you follow them. Maybe you can apply this in other things but artist have been nerding long before the computer. And a lot of us try to have a certain personna to perpetuate and extend the nerding experience. We dress a bit odd or out of step or lack some social graces or drop out of sight for a time. When we emerge we are ahead of our time or behind the time or have no concept of time. I am annoyed at the physical world and people with blank stares and thrilled when folks say, "now that's cool!" I can say, "I nerded and this is the result."
Most of the time we get to do repetitive processes at a job because it serves clients and customers. We don't often do the whole show, just our part. The artist applies nerding to converge all the training, skills, techniques and resources into the project. With every part able to go in any direction, it can be hard to narrow the view down. I say this because I didn't have a master to channel me till I was established. I was exposed to many artist and kinds of art so that I had to feel my way through to discover what I liked and was destined to do. My prejudices are always before me and I am always finding the thing I felt strange about is the thing that describes me. It gets me because I would have done it differently in that same genre. That is the madness that drives the artist. It is like emulating a singer to sound like them and every time you sing it it sounds more like you, yet the original voice is in your head. I can't tell you how many times I was scatting a tune, embellishing it way beyond the original, in the shower, at my computer.
We keep nerding to build machines to play the sounds we hear and paint in the colors we see in our head. In the old days artist would find rich patrons to support them so that they could nerdle unhindered. Most of the time I can nerdle an hour here and there. Once in a while I get so into the nerd realm I have withdrawl symptoms when I surface to do family stuff. "Arno, where you been?" "Please don't ask me to explain, I couldn't tell you in a short sentence."
What do you do in that computer room, you don't play games and your not working a job? I try to get the ideas in my head onto the screen, then realize them in print or sculpture or a building or a..........want ta see?