Hobby burnout. It’s definitely a thing. But what is it exactly and why does it happen? For the purposes of this post I’m going to focus on miniature painting.
Merriam-Webster defines burnout as: “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”.
Essentially, it boils down to stressors. Whether it be work, family, or other things it can cause, among many things, long periods of lack of desire to do your hobby. It prevents you from motivating and coming up with creative ideas. It can cause the feeling of being overwhelmed, that you are wasting your time, or it’s feeling like a job when it shouldn’t.
Being overwhelmed and stressed are just a couple of things that can cause this. Some other signs of hobby burnout could be self-doubt, procrastination, apathy about your hobby, and comparing yourself to others in a less than ideal manner.
Hobbying is meant to be, first and foremost, an enjoyable experience. But that is not always the case. I have found that societal pressures like achieving “perfection” or simply getting better at what you’re doing can trigger it pretty easily. This thinking got even worse for me when the pandemic hit in 2020. With the lack of in person gaming I felt that there wasn’t a need to paint anymore when they wouldn’t be seen in person. I began to think that I had no reason to get better let alone achieve any sort of “perfection”. For these reasons painting became stressful and un-enjoyable and I hit the wall of burnout hard.
It isn’t always the same for everyone though.
As I mentioned above it started with apathy. When I finally felt like I could pick up a paint brush again, procrastination hit followed closely by self-doubt. I found when I actually did pick up the paint brush again I would sit there and stare at my work getting frustrated about not having ideas or it not looking the way I envisioned it in my head. I then began looking for pictures of what I was painting and would quickly get bombarded by pictures of what I was working on that were much better than I felt I could ever do.
What can you do?
There are many things you can do to combat these feelings. I will break down the following and how I handle these.
- Taking breaks
- Talking to friends
- Switch gears
- Look for inspiration
- Challenge yourself
I find that taking time away from whatever project you are working on to sort out what you are feeling helps a lot. The time period in which you take a break can be as little as a few minutes up to years. Now, ideally, you won’t take years off of painting but if that is what you need to do to reinvigorate yourself that is what you should do.
Talking to Friends
When I am stuck it, sometimes, helps to talk to some good friends about what you’re going through. It helps me more if they are someone who shares the same hobby. Talking about this could be venting or just bouncing ideas off of someone else may help greatly.
This is, probably, the biggest thing that helps me out. If I am painting a large model I will switch to something small. If I get tired of whatever I’m working on I will switch genres of miniature. For example, if I am painting something fantasy and find myself stuck I’ll switch to something like horror or sci-fi.
Look for Inspiration
This can be a double edged sword. While it is a good idea to look around for ideas and examples of what you are painting it can be detrimental as well. I mentioned earlier about being inundated with photos of minis that I deemed much better than what I could do. It instilled self-doubt and more procrastination in the form of “I’ll do that mini when I get better.”
Definitely look around, just keep yourself grounded while doing so to avoid further burnout.
I have found that along with switching things up that making up challenges or joining something like the Reaper Challenge League helped me a lot.
Challenges are designed to break you out of your comfort zone. This allows you to try new things you might not normally. It breaks me out of the rut I might have been stuck in and gets me putting paint on something which will eventually bring me back to working on whatever I feel I want to work on.
However, don’t challenge yourself in an unrealistic manner. Like looking for inspiration, challenges can cause frustration. Miniature painting is supposed to be fun and if it takes out the fun it won’t help.
All-in-all you need to assess what your stressors are and where they are coming from. Reducing these things anyway you can can help combat the burnout.
I am happy to talk more about my personal experiences with burnout. If you’re interested, drop a comment below! As always, thanks for reading.