Three Ways I Stay Motivated

I wish I had more time in the day for hobbies. As I get older, I feel that I have less and less time to do the things I want to do. But, there are those quiet moments when you think that if could just do this or that with a bit more resources, wouldn’t that be great?

A part of me knows this is because I have more responsibilities that take up much more of my attention, such as my day job, trying to eat healthy and exercise, and caring for a new family.

If I did have more time, what would I want to do?

Well, I would certainly try to paint more miniatures at a highly competitive level. I’ve heard that 28-35mm scaled minis painted to a competition level could take upwards of 100 hours to paint.

I can’t even guess what it would take to paint a 75mm scaled bust or figurine.

Three Ways I Stay Motivated for painting miniatures
When you have this many models to paint (I did), you need to stay focused over the long term

I haven’t tried to paint to a very, very high level in a while. That’s kind of sad for someone who loves to paint minis. But, there’s a diminishing return for painting–at a certain point, you invest all those hours and you’re starting to feel the tedium. I’m sure the threshold is different for everyone, but I get a bit bored after spending about 5-12 hours on a single model. After this point, its more of a mental struggle to push to then final varnish step.

3 things I do to overcome the motivation speed bump of a distraction-filled life:

1. Paint more than one model at a time

I generally get over this motivational bottle neck by painting multiple models of different genres at the same time, bouncing between a 40k Space Marine, a Warmachine Warjack, and an Age of Sigmar something. In any single painting session, I’m probably applying paint on 3-6 different models. Sounds silly, but with a bit of planning (e.g., you know the colors you want to apply) and a nicely prepared wet palette, this isn’t too difficult. The great part is that the normal stop and go between models also matches the rhythm of those sporadic 30 minute blocks of time. It’s about building a flexible pattern of hobby-work, and non-hobby time.

2. Dedicated hobby space

You’ll need a dedicated hobby space to delay the motivational drain. There’s an activation threshold break through every time you want to start a project. If you had to unpack and pack-up models with all their paints laid out each time you wanted to start, ugh, I wouldn’t even want to continue or start painting. Clean up is the worst. It’s great when you can just leave everything out and walk away when you need to and come back to where you left off later.

3. Experiment (Science)

The excitement of starting a new project powerful. I think the best motivational force behind my productivity in the past few years has been the absolute thrill of discovering new ways to paint the same types of models. Experimentation, such as trying a new painting technique and doing it over and over again. Repeatedly trying to get this new skill in my head and hands so I own it. One of the easiest ways of breaking out of a rut is to do something so very brand new that even the idea you’ll have a good outcome is irrational and ridiculous. Have zero expectations, except to apply that new method.

Three Ways I Stay Motivated for painting miniatures
Experimenting with a different approach for painting skin tones – no real formula

Another thing I noticed that has helped me in the past and doesn’t really make it into my list above is getting good sleep. Seemed too obvious.

The lack of good sleep to gain more hours of work or hobby time actually worked against me. When you’re painting or doing anything creatively, the poor mental acuity and sharpness that comes from not having enough Z’s sucks the life out of doing anything.

It’s a huge downer. Painting minis can be an epic battle of will. Arm yourself.

Sleep more. Play more.

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