So, Headologist recently posted asking how people deal with hobby burnout and how they keep motivated.
"So, TRO, why are you posting about motivation? You're absolutely terrible at it."
Harsh, but ultimately fair.
At the time of writing, I currently have in progress some Malifaux Marionettes, 20 Beastmen, a Tzeentch Herald, a Chaos Warrior, Sarissa Silos, a Sarissa Warehouse, Nicolai from Eden, a Mk I Power Armour and a Commissar Lord. When did I start each of those?
Tzeentch Herald: Before July 2012
Marionettes: October 2012
Sarissa Silos: November 2012
Chaos Warrior: August 2013
Sarissa Warehouse: April 2013
Nicolai: January 2014
Beastmen: March 2014
Mk I Power Armour: April 2014
Commissar Lord: April 2014
Oh deary, deary me. That really is quite tragic, isn't it?
I think really, there are two challenges - avoiding getting burnt out and getting out of burn out when it happens.
For me, avoiding burn out means feeling like I'm making progress. Sadly, this means I do sometimes end up falling into the trap of creating overly elaborate plans and never doing any actual work.
Yeah. Like that guy.
I started off using a burn down chart so I could see my progress compared to the stuff I had still to do. Unfortunately, I have so many things to do that this invariably ends up looking like this:
I got stuff done that April, but you simply can't see it. The jump up is Salute.
I tried just counting what was "in progress" that month, which did have some positive effect. But the other problem was it counted all progress, not getting things finished - so things didn't get finished.
But, following some advice from The Independent Characters podcast, I moved over to using Kanban, using free software at Kanban Flow.
I find this works quite well for me. I get to move things across as I get them done, and the Kanban principles are also quite useful.
I would also recommend the super simple system used by my friend James over at Gonzo History: Gaming Edition. It is a very simple equation: [Models Painted This Year] - [Models Bought This Year]. The aim is to keep the number positive. I'm currently on 25 - 40 = -15. It's not terrible, but its on the wrong side of zero, and that needs fixing.
Overcoming burn out
So, recently I've been slowly coming out of some burn out triggered by my Imperial Beastmen being a far, far harder job than I realised. I can kind of distil the principles of this down into a few key rules.
If you're going to procrastinate, do something productive
Cut down on possible distractions
I've combined these into one. This is a picture of my table from mid April. It is an absolute bomb site. It is still quite a lot of a bomb site, but every time I was at my painting desk and a bit fed up of painting, I did some tidying - throwing away old receipts, putting a few boxes away... And if I was really fed up, I went and did some housework. A quite incredible amount of housework has been done during my recent burnout, so it's not a total bust!
Get old projects under control
The age of some of the older projects has been quite a demotivation for me - so I've effectively put all but one of them on hold. That was Collodi, who is now done - now it's half the Beastmen I'm going to try and finish off. When they're done, that blasted Herald is in my sights.
(Admittedly, realising how long I'd had someone else's model also freaked me out a bit into getting that one done. I am a terrible, terrible person, and clearly owe the owner some ice cream.)
Do something you love
I adore my kit bashing, so the Mk I Thunder Armour project for INQ28 has been something that has really got me sitting at my hobby desk again - and when he's been drying, I've turned around and done a little more painting on the Beastmen.
Vary what you're doing
So, as I started painting the Mk I, I started missing the kit bashing - so up pops our Commissar Lord friend (who is also my painting commitment this month for the Hobby Progress Challenge). Switching between prep and painting is another thing to keep some form of progress going while I'm going a little stir crazy from holding a paint brush.
I'm incredibly pleased with the green stuff work on his sword arm - it had a massive void and there was absolutely no detail. I've managed to get the folds of the sleeve and the sculpt of the cuff all fixed smoothly - this is not something I'd have been able to do a few months ago.
The staff head was also replaced, and pinned for strength. There is absolutely no way this is something I would have even tried so much as a month ago.
Really, it's become apparent to me that I work a lot better with fewer projects "on the go". 9 projects on the go is insanity and foolishness, and is not actually the case - some stuff is just not getting done.
As such, I think a reasonable "to do" pile is one 'detail' project for display or competition, one 'unit' where I'm churning though a big project for gaming, and one slot free for quick wins which will keep me enthused. I'll probably also have some things in assembly and preparation while things are in the painting pile too, so it stays constant and I've always got something on.
Finally, there is the most important lesson of all. James actually called me on this one a while ago.
Just paint something
I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about painting compared to the amount of time I spend painting. Sometimes, I just need to stop talking about painting and actually do some.
Like now, for example.