Hobby Exhaustion: Causes and Solutions

It might sound like a rather quirky term; hobby exhaustion. It almost sounds a little absurd, I’d go as far to say. However, when you break down some of the ways you can find yourself stepping back from your brushes and miniatures, the symptoms are all too real. Some may call it a “funk” or a “wall”, but I find those terms to be ambiguous and obtuse respectfully. What I’ve found it to be categorically is a metaphorical fatigue. If you have hobby deadlines or fancy yourself a completionist then you’ll probably end up stewing angrily in these states; I know I have. Don’t worry, it can be overcome. The best way to approach this issue is analytically and with a positive outlook. So, let’s get started.

Let’s begin by first identifying what hobby exhaustion is and how it becomes manifest. Typically, if you struggle to motivate yourself to sit at your hobby station this can be a clear sign. However, the biggest red flag is where simply thinking about starting a new project or continuing a current one simply fails to make you happy or excited. If you find no will to pick up the brush and paint your models or wince at the thought of building another Space Marine, then these are sure signals that the exhaustion has hold of you.

Your apprehensions to hobby can come from any number of places. Find below some of the clearest causes that I can muster, having suffered them myself. There’s also some tips on how to remedy said issues.

Stale Projects

You might find yourself getting comfortable in what you’re painting. Perhaps you’ve got a real knack for painting US Paratroopers or you’ve mustered a technique of speed-painting zombies. However, just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment. Working on the same project, be it countless hordes or a colossal gargantuan, can cause decaying interest. Soon, you’ll find yourself working on a project out of necessity or simply because you can, rather than because you enjoy it.

Deviate from your norm now and again. Sure, you might be able to paint a lot of undead in pretty good time, but that may not keep the hobby fires burning very brightly. Try to have a couple of varied hobby tasks at arms reach. This way you can keep up your progress and productivity without getting bored of using the same colour palettes or techniques for hours on end. I can attest to this and have managed to curb a good chunk of hobby burnout this way.

I have approximately 50 Poxwalkers. If I’d tried to paint them all continuously I’d have gotten quite board astonishingly quickly. Don’t be afraid to mix it up!

Not Defining Your Hobby Goals

If the previous point on stale projects were a fruit then this point would be the tree from which it could fall. Simply chipping away at a backlog might not feel as though it can bring you down into the hobby blues, but it absolutely can. If you’re not setting clear objectives or goals with your hobby then the never-ceasing pile of shame can sometimes seem as though it isn’t getting any smaller. Even if you don’t directly feel like it’s hindering your muster to hobby, subconsciously this sows the seed of hobby exhaustion.

Having a firm and realistic set of achievable goals can boost your efficiency and spur you on. Set a determined deadline and amount of work you wish to complete within said time. Not only can this help you track progress effectively but it can also help to set benchmarks and try to find areas of improvement. If you can paint 5 skeletons in an hour or two, why not see if you can paint five more a little faster next time? We improve by doing, after all. Not to mention that setting portioned deadlines and quantified results mean you could better balance your hobby life and non-hobby life, too. In that regard, I’ll take all the help I can get.

A Clear Hobby Area Provides A Clear Hobby Mind

I’m going to expose my inner sanctum to you all and show you the shameful state of my hobby desk as of a week ago. I found myself pushing onward trying to paint a handful of units for an upcoming game at the time. Unfortunately, every time I sat down the wind would be knocked from my sails minutes later. See below…can you honestly be surprised?! Having an overly messy and unorganised setup can make even the slightest job of finding a specific paint pot feel tedious and superfluous. This can swiftly consume your discretionary hobby energy and before you know it, you’re already giving up.

Not only can it be difficult to work with but seeing such a mess will simply put up another hurdle on the road to hobby paradise.

Keep a clear, tidy system in-place at your hobby station. Make everything as accessible as possible to get to and store. You want to put as few obstacles as possible between yourself and that finished, fully-painted army you’re working towards. My station is currently far tidier than it appears above. I acted on it due to sitting down and instantly being frustrated before I’d even started painting. Do not fall into the same trap as I did.

Find Fun Again

Hobby exhaustion can also raise its ugly head simply from the fact that you’ve lost your way a little; a simple loss of interest happens to us all. Perhaps you find yourself no longer rushing to get a game in with your friends. Maybe you’re tired of rolling dice after losing a few games and you find yourself pondering “what’s the point?”. These sorrowful states can really sneak up on you. I found a similar feeling not too long ago when painting my Deathrattle for Age of Sigmar. I sat there sneering at the unpainted skeletons before me, wondering why I was spending time painting a unit that’s likely going to get wiped out in the first turn of their first battle.

Fun is the fundamental reason most of us do our hobby, I’d like to presume. We want to roll dice and have gloriously painted armies since either or both of these things bring us joy, do not let this thought fall from you. For instance, if you can’t summon the strength to paint your alien warriors, find inspiration! Sit down and watch a science fiction film that will stir your creativity. If you’re bored to death of painting Chaos Space Marines, grab some Black Library books and remember why you invested in their dark arts in the first place.

It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised where the energy can be gathered. In my above scenario with the skeletons I was painting, the fix was laughably simple. I sat down and watched the 1963 movie Jason and the Argonauts, a film that slaps me with the nostalgia stick repeatedly. Seeing the sinister stop-motion skeletons awkwardly lurch forward worked wonders in spurring me on to get my undead warriors ready for battle.

I at least certainly hope that my swarms of undead fighters accomplish more than these guys did in the movie…

Though, Time Off Can Be Good

For contrast, there’s also some real benefits taking some time away from the hobby. Too much of a good thing can become weary but also feeling like you are enslaved to do something can typically halt the fun quite swiftly. Take some time away from the hobby to recharge your batteries. After all, the main way to recover from physical exhaustion is to rest, this shouldn’t be any different. This isn’t a job, you’re not obligated to do this for anybody bar yourself. Unless you paint professionally in which case you should probably get back to work, I suppose.

Ultimately, there’s a myriad of reasons why you might not find yourself wanting to continue the hobby crusade. You can try to address these issues as best you can in the name of betterment or efficiency. However, the biggest and most sound bit of advice I’ll offer is also the most simple and obvious. The most vital part for progressing in something is to sit yourself down and start it. It all starts when you pick up the brush to paint or the rulebook to better study the game system. Go from there!

Do you find yourself suffering hobby exhaustion often? What do you do to overcome it? Let us know and share your stories. Of course, you can find us on Facebook should you wish to follow us and share your hobby exploits there.

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