Thursday, 24 May 2018

Hobby mojo or how to make the best of our hobby

Something a little different today, I'd like to talk about Hobby Mojo and more generally speaking what we expect from our hobby (or any other hobby for that matter).
Over the past years, I've seen terms like Hobby Mojo, Hobby burn out pop out here and there and I have to say those have always seemed a little odd to me. Why do people feel that and why does it seem odd to others ?

I guess I should start with what a hobby is to me. First, I consider it a big luck to even be able to have one, a hobby is something we don't need to live but only need to feel better and that we want to do because we can afford to spend time/energy/money into it. It's a privilege, being able to spend spare ressources (any of the 3 before) is a privilege, no matter how much you spend.

So that means a hobby is something you don't HAVE to spend anything for but CAN spend whatever you feel like spending for. That's the most important thing to me, at the very core of the idea of a hobby, you don't have any form of obligation whatsoever.

Sure JB,  but in reality it does come with constraints of all kinds, comitments, deadlines, it's not always about pleasure only. Yes of course, but all of those are self imposed and accepted constraints because we allow them to be in the first place.
I'm the first to have way more ideas than time. I'm usually saying yes to any challenge or group project passing nearby. I've been over committing for some time now and I realise I always keep telling to myself I should be focusing more.

But these are all choices I made, and in the end, my output is ever increasing, the painting standard hasn't progressed as much obviously but once again, that's a choice I'm making to get more stuff done to a reasonable standard without having to spend ages. That's a compromise I have found. And by embracing my choices I have come to know my limits and what I can reasonably do or not.

I don't think I have ever felt overwhelmed by any project because at any time I have the choice to decide which are my priorities. Do I have a game planned ? Do I have an entry to submit for a competition or a challenge ? Did I promise something to someone ? 

Deadlines do make happen things that would have take another eternity to complete
If I don't feel like I can squeeze everything in a given time, then I'll just decide the priorities and if and which deadline I'm not going to meet. End of story.
It's a hobby, what happens if I don't meet a deadline ? Worst that can happen is I'll look like an idiot, maybe if I repeatedly fail meeting deadlines I'll start looking a bit unreliable but that will only be because I kept overestimating my abilities or underestimating tasks but in every case, I'll look like a fool because I acted like one. Good thing is, we can learn from mistakes. ^^

I often hear/read people syaing "I don't have time for X or Y", well there are 2 absolute fair truths that tie us all on earth and one is that we all have 24h in a day, same for everyone. Most of the time when saying "I don't have the time" what one should say is "I didn't take the time" and that's perfectly fine. Sometimes you just want to dive into the sofa and watch crap on TV, sometimes you'd rather just go out have a drink with friends or who knows, just enjoy the people living with you ! But that's a choice, you're not the victim and th ehobby can't be blamed for it.

I'm saying this because I really think a hobby should only be seen from a positive angle, if you see it from a negative one, then something is going wrong and that something is most probably how you think about it.

My hobbies (Painting models in this case but it goes for any other hobby I have) give me pleasure, solace, ease my mind, cheer me up, make me feel better inside and outside (for the more sportive hobbies) and they can't be the source of anything else, they will never fill my life or give it a meaning but they will certainly never pull me down.
There will be a time when I paint fewer models than the year before, there might come a time when I don't get to play as much or finish what I meant to but If I see what I can do as bonus and not what I could have done as a regret, then I can't really be losing can I ?

Now on the other hand, you don't get anything if you don't give something so you have to pay upfront and get behind that desk, go to the gym, club or wherever you have to be and you have to BE there, not just present, but active. If it's the hobby you like and not just somethig to kill time you WILL get something from it and that something will be worth the time/energy/money spent.

I can only speak for myself of course but what do I get from this hobby in particular :
- A sense of achievement, every model painted, every game played is tangible, I can see and touch the progress made and it does feel great.

- Interaction with others, I've never enjoyed this hobby as much as I have for the past few years thanks to blogging and interacting on the usual places. This blog helps me set a pace for projects and I did get to meet people I'm really fond of thanks to it, not just "guys I know" although even those are already great to have and share the hobby with.

- It really is a way to have a little creativity out, stupid ideas but they get out and take form. this is good for your brains and hence mental state.

- focusing on this hobby (or the others) is also good to get rid of any stress because the hobby is basically a place where I have complete control, with little to no nuisance from the outside (only exception being if a parcel gets lost, a model gets damaged/stolen or those kind of things

So basically, my whole point is to be positive about it because it's easy to be since it's a hobby. Best thing would be to be positive about everything but we know that's not happening this life right ?

So here are just a few tips that work for me and might work for some of you :
  • I never know what I want to do, I sometimes like to just build stuff, or convert, or base, or paint so I have models at every possible stage on the desk at all times, that means I can pick the task I most feel like doing any time I want.

  • I have secured a sanctified hobby place. It's not big by all means, just a table in my bedroom but it's my own place and all I have to do to get some hobby time is to sit. This is very important to me, I wouldn't stand havig to get everything out, looking for stuff, having to tidy everything afterwards. I need to have everything at hand right away. I never really stop painting, I just make long pauses... ^^
    Look at the picture above and you'll see that despite the desk being messy, there is still a place for WIPs, based models ready for paint, paints, brushes, raw models needing to be primed.

  • I try to vary projects in size and subjects, and I also try to paint the number of models that fits me, not too few, not too much. It really does make a difference.

  • When I feel I've worn myself out on a project (and not because the project wore me out, see the difference), then I treat myself with a model I paint just for fun, for no reason, no big plan, just a one shot which won't matter. And you know what ? They're usually the ones I love the most in the end, I set the standards low and they usually end up looking the best.

Doesn't fit if what I usually do, doesn't look like much but it was a fun and refreshing experiment, liberating despite the constraints.

  • Don't expect your hobby to make time for itself, take it. My painting has become way more regular and hence more satisfying since I have kids. Having a schedule or routine means by 8:30 PM eveything in the house must have been done which leaves me a whole evening ahead. It's way easier to plan what you can do if you know how much time you have otherwise, we're mostly all the same and we WILL end up spending too much time reading stupid stuff, arguing with trolls on the net, watching crap TV and all sorts of addictive behaviours who were designed to trap us.
    Knowing what time I have in the evening lets me schedule what I want to do and take some time for sport, painting, seeing friends and watching the series I like. It does mean spending a little less time watching lolcats (although I still do spend too much time on pointless stuff).
  • And probably the best advice for this hobby the way I see it is to just do stuff, it's always bonus. I wish I was able to port this into real life but at least I got that part working in my hobby :

Obviously, nothing I'm saying here is carved in stone or is in any way an absolute truth, it's just what I've come to notice and think works for me and since I'm no different from most folks, I suspect it might worl for others as well. It's a long journey and there's plenty to learn along th eway... ^^


  1. Couldn't agree more with some of your points here. It sounds silly, but there is a degree of self discipline in what we do. Nothing irritates me more than a person who hoardes miniatures and never gets around to painting them. Painting provides me with some much needed catharsis so I try to find some time for it every week.

    1. You're a doer, you know it. It's an eating more than we can chew thing combined with being honest with ourselves and others. Collecting things is a hobby, not mine, but it's one. Just don't pretend or claim you intend to paint it "one day" if you don't mean it, you don't have to prove anything to anyone so let's just be a little honest with ourselves and put our acts and talk on the same level.

    2. Doerz fo lif! Def something I will look back to if I lose my mojo. ;) But I don't think it will be this year, we got to much cool stuff planned. LOL

    3. You're a natural born doer Grover. The world will shatter before you run out of juice !
      I think you really have the focus and the good attitude in you.

  2. Hi!

    Interesting post! As someone who has recently posted about the loss of hobby mojo, I think the issue comes when you've had a good spell of painting and really enjoying your hobby and then for whatever reason, it all grinds to a halt.

    This may be caused by work squeezing hobby time or a frustration with whatever you happen to be painting at the time. In my case, I was knackered by work and coming home to paint some toy soldiers would usually be very relaxing but I found no matter what I tried to paint just didn't work out.

    Usually what I'd do was choose a different model or scale and crack on but for whatever reason, I found myself utterly stumped.

    After a month or so of getting nothing whatsoever painted, I posted about it and it actually helped to just get the frustration out in a blog and the helpful comments and suggestions I got allowed me to take a step back and re-examine what I wanted to do.

    Will it work out? Who knows but I'm willing to have a bash!

    As you mentioned in your post, a hobby should be something fun that is an outlet for creativity, fun and relaxation, not something to stress you out and I've discovered from experience that trying to force myself to get a project done is a good way to lose all of the above.

    All the best!

    1. It's true that we can be lead to make other choices due to outside constraints and this can lead to a frustration from not having as much fun from the hobby, it also means we expect more of it and this all leads to a vicious circle of frustration.
      For me it really all falls back on enjoying what we have and not regretting what we don't.
      Whenever somethig's not working a change is needed one way or another.
      Wishing you all the best to keep the spirits up !

  3. The lack of a sanctified hobby space is whats killing me at the moment however I'm aware that's an issue and there are plans afoot that will dramatically change that situation next year. I do, however, need to get my eyes tested.

    1. I know it would be a killer for me and I would get nothing done if I had to get stuff out, it's why I usually don't get any hobby done during holidays.
      Checking your eyes is probably a good thing too, I don't need my glasses for many tasks but I wouldn't paint without them honestly.
      You have what it takes and you know what's holding you back so you'll get back to your machine levels of output without a doubt Col. ;)

  4. My thoughts exactly. I had quite the same note in mind, you put words on it faster than me.
    I second almost everything you said.
    Great post that deserves to be shared !

  5. I agree 100%.

    Life happens and effects productivity.
    I buy too many things compared to my output.
    I make mistakes in process/reach/estimation for my projects.

    But I try to learn from the errors and apply them the next time. And slowly, I get better at it.

    Self delusion is part of the human condition, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't fight it.

    Nice post JB!

    1. We're on the same page, in the end I find we're fed enough BS to avoid feeding myself some more with pointless delusions.
      I just wish I can make that IRL as I do it when painting toy soldiers. ^^

  6. I'm amused by the fact that my regimen for getting to paint or model of an evening is almost identical to your own - get the kids to bed and then hustle downstairs for around eight and feverishly finish off all of the domestic chores that need doing before getting down to it!

    I dipped in and out of the hobby until the middle of last year, when I happened across this and other blogs, they inspired me to start painting most nights that I could find the time and I haven't stopped since.

    One thing that I wasn't prepared for is just how much you can improve with constant practice.

    1. Yep, keeping track of models with a blog also made me realise how much one can gain in speed and quality with sheer practice, without really focusing on painting better. And that's the added cherry on the cake really !

  7. Good stuff JB, I do tend to focus on the "failures" and not the positives. I think you are spot on with just doing things. I find one finished model way more satisfying than a half finished regiment. I think the sweet spot for me is about 5-10 models. I also need to keep a better tally of figures painted and get some of the things photographed properly. I like to have things handy but have randomized my supplies and collection to the point where I have to dig a bit. I think I'll take the Summer to organize, and paint.

    1. We've been following each other's blog for a few years now and I can honestly say your output has become more focused and that Bretonian army really is something to be proud of, having taken part in a similar challenge in the same period, I can tell it's no mean feat.

  8. My output for this hobby has completely stopped. I still think (although less and less) about all the things I’ve got in progress or the new projects I’d like to start, but I’ve changed my “free time priorities” (cycling or reading). I comfort myself knowing that I’ll be back at some point though as i’m still hugely inspired by other people’s amazing work and dread that someone will get to make one of my ideas before I do..!

    1. It goes to show a hobby is just that, something to make us feel better, seems perfectly normal to have a change in what you want to do, I don't think any of us hasn't had a pause at some point and there's only a certain time we can spend on hobbies without jeopardising the rest and you're spedning it on valuable activities.
      I'm selfishly eager to se eyou back behind the brushes though. ;)

  9. Perfect is the enemy of good.

    1. "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" in french yes, we are often our own worst ennemies.

  10. Well said bud - my excuse was my job contract coming to an end with all the uncertainty that that entails and lack of a dedicated hobby space - also beer and very good weather recently ;)

    I now have secured a permanent contract doing the job I love and my shed just needs some more work benches and shelves building and hopefully some power hooking up to it soon and I can crack on with much belated BOYL preparations!

    1. You're putting your focus and energy where you want it from what I can see, so I'm not worried in the slightest about you getting back on the tracks at full speed. ^^

  11. Only thing that keeps me from painting is my damn hemorrhoids.....aarrrggghhhhhh!!!!!!

  12. Your hobbyspace gives me the heeby-jeebies! You've only got a couple of square inches of clear space. quick count you've got ... ninety-something miniatures on the go there which is the bulk of your annual output. Of course, if you find it works for you then great.

    I find if I have too many half-finished figures in line-of-sight I get fidgety and start feeling overwhelmed at the number of projects still to tackle. Everything is routinely tidied away into the "trays of limbo" so I can focus on one thing to completion.

    1. I'm planning on making it a bit less messy with paint racks like I used to have, I'm getting there. It is crowded but not really messy, I never struggle to find anything and everything has its place.
      I don't have that many half finished models on the go, just a lot of "ready to be picked" that often get pushed on the side by newcomers... ^^
      But I do like to switch from one activity to another so I couldn't stand having just one project in front of me.

  13. Great Post! I like your philosophy of having lots of projects on the go, it's something I'm only just trying out intentionally. In the past lots of projects seemed like a bad idea because I dumped the old ones for the new, but now I'm going to try to get two distinct armies painted at the same time to avoid getting bored of one thing all the time.

    1. I'm aware it won't work for everybody but for some of us it does help.

  14. Good stuff--everyone can take some wisdom from this and apply to themselves and their own situation. It does raise some questions though:
    1. Your wife lets you have that in the bedroom? and,
    2. Your wife lets you have a weird hand drawn picture of a cock and balls on your desk in the bedroom? and,
    3. What role does the said hand drawn picture of a cock and balls play in the inspiration and motivation of the hobby output?

    1. 1) There isn't a wife for now but when there used to be one she didn't mind. The agreement was anything smelly (other than myself) and noisy was obviously taking part somewhere appropriate.
      2) It's actually an adult cock and balls with a kid cock and balls. I haven't had a complain from anyone so far although the explanation has been a bit more tedious in some (rare) occasions.
      3) It's a picture drawn by a valued friend and hence is a reminder of how lucky I am o have great people around. I can hardly se better motivation. ^^

    2. Fair enough! Thanks for taking my joke questions seriously ;) Thanks for the good article which is helping me think about motivation and enjoyment in my own hobby :)

    3. I get asked about that cock every time I share a WIP picture ! ^^'
      And of course I ran into that muletta like the fool I am. ^^

  15. Well said. I'm also in the dad camp, put kids to sleep by 8pm, shower and then do hobby. I find that hobby time is important for many reasons, not least of which is to de-stress after a busy day, and let my creativity take over

    1. 100% with you here, I put everything aside till the kids are in bed, have the dishes done while they're having a shower/teeth cleaned so that once the story's been read, I have a clean house and can focus on whatever I feel like doing with a full evening ahead. ^^
      The hobby is a form of meditation for me, it soothes and relieves of the stress, it's also the perfect occasion to really listen to music, listen to podcasts or good radio shows.

    2. Another one for the Dad camp. I find I get slightly irritated with some of my group who complain “I never have the time” when they are single and spend their time in front of the telly with a beer. I’ve a pregnant wife, 6 year old, a dog and full time job - but still make the time of an evening.

      Which is the difference - making the time, not finding it.

      I’m at the point now where if I don’t do a bit of hobby every day, I get a bit twitchy, even if it’s only a ten minute job like basing something.

      So, good post all round.

  16. Fantastic article JB, something I really need to keep reaching for is seeing the positive of what I've achieved so far.

    I think the "no hobby mojo" or "hobby burnout" statements really mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

    You already know from things I've written in the past on my blog that I suffer quite badly from Chronic Depression. These hobbies have always been a wonderful thing for me, the joy of creativity, to escape into fantastical worlds, being a part of a friendly community, or just the sense of satisfaction and achievement at a project complete no matter how big or small.

    And with 3 children still at home and looking after 2 disabled adults I really need something of my own to balance my own mental energies. I think when I've used the terms "no hobby mojo" and "hobby burnout", it's not a statement about the hobby but my own mental state. I use them more like a short form for "My mind and emotions are so exhausted and strung out right now, that even this wonderful hobby is bringing me no joy or satisfaction at this very moment."

    But then I go away and do something else, maybe read a novel, a walk in the woods or watch a movie. Just something that will revitalise and rejuvenate my mental and creative energy, it in turn funnels straight back into my hobby when I go back to it. And now that my own home life is a bit more settled down and I've properly organised my hobby space, I think it's going to be easier to swing right back into projects.

    I think my main flaw is I get overly critical of myself and my hobby output. But after reading your article you've made me wonder. I'm going to have a look at what I've actually been up to recently and write it up on my blog, I think I might surprise myself.

    Once again, fantastic article JB. You are an inspiration :)

    1. Cheers mate !
      Although I'm not exactly in the same position, I have a pretty good idea of what you mean, I know the feeling too well.
      I've learnt early enough though that hobbies are havens where you have control over things, that makes them rewarding and soothing. They're like a sort of meditation for me and I know any loss of pace or motivation is due to external sources most of the time.
      I also think finding our own compromise between quantity/quality/standard, wether you want to share or not projects is a tricky balance but once we find it it's way easier to feel good about what we do. It may sound a little like I'm seeking the most time efficient way (and it is to some extent) but it's mostly to limit frustration to the max.

  17. To me, finding a compromise between what you feel you can still do to improve a project and when you know you need to let go is the hardest part.

  18. This is the perfect thing I needed to read in this moment of my life. :)


  19. Mec can you make an inspirational blog post that is just videos of you dipping brushes into that gross mineral water and saying 'blooood reeeed' in an evil voice? Please mec please?


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