Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Avoid Hobby Burn-Out

We've all done it. Be it because we stayed up until 3 am for three months straight getting an army ready for a tournament, played one system over and over again until we bled plastic, metal and resin, or the latest codex release just irked you so badly it made you throw up your hands and scream "Overpowered!" to the heavens. We've all burnt ourselves out on this wonderful hobby we indulge in at one time or another.

Well if you're like me, you've invested a goodly chunk of change into the hobby, no matter what your game system of choice. Every time in the past that I've gotten burnt out on my hobby, inevitably I look at all my models and kits that I put so much effort into, or have yet to even open, and feel like I'm wasting money every week I'm not playing, modeling or painting.

So how do we avoid hobby burn out?

After Adepticon 2010, I didn't even so much as pick up, put together, paint or even look at a miniature for nearly 3 months. I played one local tournament, and that's about it. Why? Because I had spent the previous 3 months staying up until 3 am nightly trying to finish my Centurions for the aforementioned Adepticon. Heck, I finished my Land Raider and Predator in my hotel room the night before the tournament.

Don't look at me like that, we've all done it.

I was so burned out and sleep deprived that I couldn't bring myself to do anything even relating to the hobby. I took a nice, long break that I thought I needed and figured afterwards, I'd pick up right where I left off. The problem was that I lost all momentum for projects. Heck, I had wanted to bring a whole new army to Adepticon in 2011, and compete in the Crystal Brush competition. Neither of which happened, though I did get more play time in at the local shop as the year went on at least.

Now comes 2011, and I'm desperate to figure out how to not let this happen again. I'm tired of wanting to do so much with my hobby and being too tired of doing it to accomplish anything. This is supposed to be fun, dangit!

Here's what worked for me this year:

Having an army already done I could fall back on.

This was a huge load off my shoulders. While I wanted to bring a new army to Adepticon, I didn't have to. The previous year I didn't even have an army done until the night before the tournament. This time I had something, and didn't need to worry. I just updated the Centurions with some new models, and I was ready to go.

2. Variety is the spice of life

To date do far this year I've completed over a half dozen projects from a single conversion to painting an entire army on commission. And ALL of them have been a different experience, with the exception of the updating of my Centurions. Knowing that as I finish my current project, the next one on the horizon is completely different help keep me motivated.

3. Like-minded friends

Having a group that you not only game with, but also model and paint with helps everyone not only stay motivated, but also increases everyone's skill levels. I can't begin to describe how helpful another pair or more of eyes are when working or trying to figure something out.

4. A new spin on things

I took a class at Adepticon this year taught by Mathieu Fontaine on how to paint at a competition level. Wow, did it ever open my eyes not just on competition painting, but painting period! Even on my choice of brush and some paint brands. My wife had to make me take a week off after Adepticon because I was so eager to try out the new things I learned. Learn and advance your skills, it'll excite and motivate you, I guarantee.

5. This blog

I can't begin to express how the writing of this blog, coupled with the support, creative criticism and comments of all of you have helped me avoid hobby burn-out this year. The vast majority of our community in the blogosphere is a for e to be reckoned with, and for that, I thank you.

In the end, everyone's list and ways to avoid burning themselves out on this hobby, or any hobby for that matter, will be different in some way. My main point here is that it is avoidable, we should want to avoid it, and that we can if we try.

- Tim


  1. Nice article! I definitely agree with the points you've raised here. It's tough to stay motivated without buddies in the same hobby trenches, no doubt.

  2. Great article as always Tim,

    I'm burnt out at the moment, I can barely even build models and painting makes me feel a bit ill.. I've also somehow managed to burn myself out from blogging at the same so I feel like I am in a bit of a broad spectrum hobby slump!

  3. Awesome article, Tim! I also suffered a hobby burn-out after BOTH Adepticons. 2010 I played Orkz at the Team Tournament, after which I decided to do Vostroyans... gave up (too much metal, waiting for resin) and stated painting Space Wolves a few months later.
    This year I played Space Wolves, but after painting 2000 points (that's right 1/2 of the points for the Team Tournament) I was so sick of playing 40k and painting that I decided to play my Orkz.. and start Fantasy.

  4. The resounding theme I'm hearing from folks who are just flat burnt out is the same one that plagued you, Skarvald. A deadline that you abused yourself to make, which in turn then killed the motivation for the hobby.

    Heck, that exact situation has happened to me twice as well. Once for Adepticon 2010, and then way back for the 2007 GT.

    If I'm not mistaken, Red, you blitzed your own beautiful Red Scorpions for a similar circumstance, yes?

    The stress and self-inflicted abuse we sometimes put ourselves through to make a tournament or painting competition can seriously kill the hobby mojo. In fact, that's what I think is the killer here… it's not the deadline so much as the stress we put ourselves through for something we're supposed to be having fun with.

    And hey, Red? Meet Skarvald. He's the guy that helped motivate me to revamp and make this blog work. I'll say to you what he said to me, just in my own words: Your blog is one I check regularly. It gives me inspiration and I genuinely look forward to reading what you have to say and show us all. No pressure here, just a guy who want to raise his hand and say thanks for speaking your mind and showing us your talent. Don't stop if you can help it cause I'd miss it.