We all get it, that lack of interest in the hobby, the sideways glances towards the desk, thinking you should be doing something, but you can’t summon the energy. So what happens when you run out of Hobby Motivation?
I’m not going to tell you that you should be elbow deep in paint and plastic kits right now. Relax, it’s a hobby, you do it when you want to and when you find it fun.
There are times when hobby motivation is just not going to happen. Extreme fatigue, for example, can really kill your hobby time. Depression can also have an impact and diminish your desire to do something that you would normally jump into with great enthusiasm. And motivation itself is a finite resource, it will run out eventually (there have been studies into willpower and how it can be eroded by using it too much, and motivation is simply a different form of willpower, usually used to do things rather than resist or not do things).
DROWNING IN CONTENT
Social media provides us with an unstoppable, almost torrential downpour of content, of beautifully painted models, of inspiring scenery, and of people constantly hobbying, and the urge to ‘keep up’ has people thinking they should be painting or building during all the free time they have.
This is simply not the case, first of all, because social media is a carefully curated window onto the best parts of other peoples lives, someone might have taken loads of photos during one day’s worth of hobby, and then they’re spreading those images out over the course of a week, unintentionally creating the impression they’re painting or building 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
And second of all, take Instagram (pitcured right). You’re watching the work of hundreds or even thousands of people over the course of a day, the sheer quantity of hobby you’re observing is going to make you feel like you should be doing something other than browsing Instagram.
So as a rule of thumb, if you don’t feel like hobbying, don’t worry about it!
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS
You really want to engage with your hobby and do some painting. You feel fine, not tired but you still can’t get up and get to it.
Usually, this means there’s a barrier stopping you from getting to the bit you find most enjoyable.
By barrier, I mean that there is something you need to do before you get to the good stuff. In basic terms, it could mean that you prefer painting to building, and the barrier is not having anything built and primed that’s just ready to go. Painting part of something is the easiest short term solution. It could be that having a head on a cork is the way forward for you.
I can already hear the cries of “Its too cold outside to prime anything!”
Fear not, if the objective is just to paint, for the sake of painting, then most materials will take paint quite well without primer. Give them a good wash in warm soapy water (multiple slayer sword winning artist David Soper doesn’t prime his competition pieces for the most part, so if it’s good enough for him it’s good enough for us!).
The idea is to make the fun part as easily accessible as possible for times when motivation low. You can set yourself up for success by doing that a few times when motivation is high, like tidying the desk after a session, having a bunch of stuff primed and ready to go.
Other examples could be that you simply don’t have an appropriate area or desk to paint at. This might take a little more solving and a bit of cost, but it’s achievable. You could have a case with all the paints and tools required in one handy box. This eliminates having to gather various equipment from different parts of the house. A lap tray with a decent clip on light means you could paint or build on the sofa. A painting station and a decent free-standing desk lamp could mean that the kitchen table is a more enticing prospect.
Essentially the idea is to group things together into the easiest possible solutions. These solutions may not be instantly accessible. You may have to buy something to help with the issue, but if you solve the problems when you have the motivation, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance.
Not knowing a technique (Non-Metallic Metal or blending for example) means that sometimes the barriers are skill-based. In times like this, have a stack of spares that you can practice on, such as a few swords.
If your motivation is low, attacking a full miniature with an unfamiliar technique can seem daunting. Use the opportunity to practice on something that doesn’t really matter and won’t break the bank if it goes wrong. You’re still practising and improving your hand-eye coordination. All you have to remember in this situation is that when you do have the motivation, attack the project you’ve been wanting to do and get it finished to the best of your ability so you can learn from it.
This is perhaps the most dangerous of all the topics to cover when talking about hobby motivation. Mainly because it’s too easy to spend all of your time looking at amazing miniatures, rather than actually doing something! Having a few good art books around is always a must. They’re nice to look at, but they don’t always have the ‘rabbit hole’ effect that browsing the internet has (you know exactly what I mean, one link turns into a hundred and a five-minute ‘reference check’ turns into 3 hours of staring at a small screen)
I enjoy artbooks from Gerald Brom amongst a great many other artists. He has a nice mix of genres and subjects with lots of really interesting lighting. Obviously he’s not the only one out there but it’s a good start to figure out what you do and don’t enjoy.
As far as online is concerned there are a couple of places I browse for inspiration. Putty and Paint is arguably the finest collection of painted miniatures on the planet, and Artstation has some amazing artists showcasing game art, design and 3d sculpting. Both are well worth a look if you’ve not seen them before.
You can even find things on this very website! Our own Alex Barkley recaps the monthly challenges HERE
And as much as I hate to suggest it, the world outside is chock full of inspiration. From bits of rust on a car, to an ancient tree root, Inspiration is all around us. Whether we take the time to slow down and see it is up to us.