I have a hard time finishing a Warhammer army. I have a hard time completing my conversion projects. I have a hard time putting on that very last highlight. At least, that was how it was until I decided that it needed to stop. My hobby was not making me happy, so I decided that I needed to take control of my hobby and I make a process that I would enjoy.

If you are like most gamers, the hobby is something you do for your own personal pleasure. You do the projects you want, you paint the colours you like, you play the army that you find fun or exciting. In short. you do it because you like it! Why else would you use your spare time and money on it? But like me, you might end up in a bad place with your hobby. You feel like you waste your time jumping from projects to projects. You buy miniatures that stand unpainted many years after.

This article is description of the solution I came up with and how it has helped solve my hobby-blues.

Unproductive and bad hobby habits that I had

I started by sitting down and analysing what kind of actions I did that made me dislike my hobby. These are some of the unproductive things or bad habits I found in myself and my hobby process:

  1.  I bought new models even though I knew getting it assembled and painted would not happen for years. I bought those new models as a distraction because they looked cool and I wanted them. Little did I realise that having them would, in the long run, make me feel bad because it reminded me that I never got around to painting the stuff I wanted to. I kept saying that I would not buy something new before I had painted a lot more of the things I had. I lied to myself and bought new stuff anyway.
  2. My hobby tools and work area was a mess. Every time the urge to paint something was there, I would use at least 15. minutes to find the paint, tools and miniatures I needed. I lost track of what projects I had actually decided to work on, because everything was in a big pile of mess. I lost the recipe for different paint schemes, making it way to hard to replicate again. All in all, the mess made sure that by the time I was ready to paint something, I had lost all drive by shifting through unfinished projects triggering my bad conscience.
  3. I spend way to much time thinking about hobby stuff but not actually doing hobby stuff. I would watch youtube video, scroll through forums, think up a cool army list and do things that were related to the hobby, but not the actual hobby stuff that I really wanted to get done.
  4. I kept second guessing my paint schemes, my army selection, my projects and everything else. This lead to me shifting from project to project, stripping down half (or fully!) painted miniatures and never feeling like I made any progress.
  5. I would keep doing the parts of the hobby that I found required the least thought or decision making. That meant putting together a load of miniatures, priming them and then never getting around to putting paint on them.

Decisions and rules I made to counteract the bad habits and instil productive hobby behavior

Relaising what was wrong were a huge step towards doing something about it. I had the following thought process afterwards:

1. My hobby time (and free time in general) is a very precious resource and I should make sure I enjoy myself whatever I do. Right now I am not enjoying my Warhammer hobby, so I should do something about that (or quit Warhammer altogether).

2. I do not enjoy looking at grey plastic miniatures, spending thousands of dollars on unpainted armies, having a constant guilty hobby conscience and never finishing a project. I should actively seek to avoid these situations.

3. To enjoy my hobby time more, I have to get more efficient. Painting something to the greatest standard I can is fun, but I also need to complete armies from time to time. I have to focus on the projects that I have decided needs my attention and do that until they are finished. I have to set clear goals for my hobby and focus on achieving them. If I do not have clear goals, it feels like I never achieve anything.

4. Grey plastic, unfinished side projects and a general hobby mess is only working towards keeping me distracted. I need to make sure that the exact tools and miniatures I need for the project I have decided on are easily available. Everything else not related to the current project should be packed away so it is harder for me to get distracted.  

The actions I did to make my hobby more enjoyable

Having now realised what was wrong and potential solutions to fixing it, I got to work.

1. Clear out old stuff

I started by getting everything related to my hobby out of the closet (I, of course, did it a day where my significant other was not home. I am not that insane, you know!). All models from one army in separate piles, all tools in a pile, just get it all out and sort it. This can be scary, but for the sake of your hobby, it can be good to get your (literal) hobby demon out of the closet.

I decided to get rid of a lot of junk. In essence, if something was unlikely to get finished in the next 5 years, I decided it would only hold me back so was better getting rid of it. I know, I know, it is really hard to kill (or sell) your darlings. I gave my stuff away to someone I knew would find joy in it. That way did not have to face the loss I faced with regards to the monetary value.

I also got rid of crappy old tools, paints and other stuff that I never really like. With the outlook that hobby had to be enjoyable, it was easy to get rid of things that annoyed me (dried paints) or things that were wasting my time (trying to straighten out worn out paint brushes).

2. Decide what you actually want to work on

After having looked through everything (and decided what needed to get) I was bussing with excitement. So many projects that I wanted to work on! I settled on keeping everything related to the Grand Alliance Destruction, and focusing hardcore on an Ironjawz army. I had the models, I had the paint scheme and I know it was a low(ish) model count army.

3. Sort your stuff and hide everything not needed for your current project

Having picked my project, I packed and boxed all other miniatures not related to that project. They are simply stored away so I cannot see them unless I actively go looking for them.

The miniatures for my current project got placed on an open shelf, ready the second I needed to paint something. My moveable hobby station got arranged with exactly the paints I needed to paint that project. No reason to go sift through hundreds of weird paints and waste time on that. Just keeping it simple by only having exactly the stuff I needed at hand.

This had the further amazing bonus that I can sit down and start painting on my project in a matter of a few seconds. I just take down my hobby station from the shelf, put it on the table I want to work on, screw my moveable lamp on the table and I am ready to go.

Note: if you do have a hobby room, you can make things even more effective. We do not have that kind of space, so I have settled on this moveable solution instead.

4. Enjoy your hobby

These steps helped immensely with getting the joy back in my hobby. I finish more projects, I paint faster, I paint better, I dedicate more time to it and I enjoy it so very much again.

One of the things I started noticing was that the “hobby must be enjoyable” outlook has changed how I perceive my hobby. I have started to use more funds making it more enjoyable (buying new paints as soon as the old one is getting crummy, buying better brushes and so on) instead of using funds on buying random stuff. It has also changed how I feel about different hobby aspects. It used to be that I hated when I ran out of a particular paint. Now I find it immensely satisfying because it is a clear signal that I am working towards my goals and are achieving them.

Do you have any advice for fellow hobbyists? Write a comment with your hobby tip below!