Thursday, 4 December 2014

Hobby Philosphy

This month's Miniature Wargames has an article by Henry about blogging.
The tone is quite supportive of the idea of blogging and explains some of the basics but eventually it veers off into dire warnings about planning your blog and ensuring you have the materials and commitment necessary to see it through.
This is an all too common theme to writing about our hobby. The importance of planning, deadlines, targets, "realistic expectations" and the like.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that a hobby grounded in the martial should frequently favour taking a disciplined militaristic approach to tasks - but even so it saddens me a bit.
I understand that for some people this is a productive and rewarding approach and  I have several wargaming chums who have enviable focus and work ethic and consistently deliver excellent projects to fruition. But I am getting a little tired of it being presented as "orthodoxy" and the only viable approach to our hobby.
Note that this isn't an attack on this specific article or magazine. Its a reaction to an attitude I perceive as prevalent across the hobby (and beyond the confines of wargaming) - the view of it as a slog, or struggle to achieve some sort of result, rather than an enjoyable exercise in and of itself.

Personally I get enough of that bollocks at work. And a fair bit in other aspects of my life too.
This is supposed to be a hobby, something I do for fun, and I'm getting a bit ticked off with being hectored by other people for not treating my downtime like some sort of military exercise, with goals and targets and all the other fuckwittery that drives much of modern life.
As humans we spend far too much time in thrall to the idea of plans, of results, of  achieving.
And not enough time, in my view, for pleasing ourselves and celebrating what we enjoy.
Rather than measuring yourself against targets and goals, you should be celebrating everything you achieve, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Every time you pick up a paintbrush, roll a dice, stick on a tuft of static grass or just sit in a comfy chair and gaze out of the window and think about toy soldiers is a victory. Its a win for you. You've found time for yourself and you've enjoyed yourself and what could be better than that?

A while ago I realised that I was locked in a cycle that was actually destructive for my enjoyment of the hobby. I'd plan a project, set myself goals, fail to meet them and then spend time mentally beating myself up about that "failure". Many of us have a tendency to be unnecessarily harsh on ourselves about our performance, constantly criticising or belittling instead of celebrating what we do manage and this across all aspects of our lives, not just hobby time. I was doing this with my hobby and the cycle of negativity made me even less likely to pick up a brush. So I made a conscious decision to stop taking that approach. I decided to embrace my butterfly like attention span and to just paint and play whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And if lack of finished models prevented me doing what I wanted to just accept that rather than see it as a failure. I have to say I find I'm getting more painted and modelled as a result and I'm enjoying it all a whole lot more.

As far as blogging is concerned just do it. Or don't. No one gets hurt if you post three times and then stop. It doesn't cost anything and if you enjoy those three posts then that's all that matters. Working out how much time you have to commit to it and planning in the regular updates? Unless you actually find resource planning and timetabling enjoyable in and of itself I really wouldn't bother.
And whatever happens -whether you go on to a glittering blogging career with the accolades of other socially awkward men children with a fascination for toy soldiers ringing in your ears, or if your blog turn into a tumbleweed strewn ghost town after a couple of weeks - try to remember that it doesn't matter - most especially that it doesn't matter to you. You've not succeeded, or failed - you've just enjoyed doing something for yourself.

There's a quote misatributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson that says that life is a journey, not a destination. Similarly the Buddhist approach that it is better to travel well than to arrive.
In our modern, goal and status orientated world where "first is everything second is nowhere" we're in danger in of forgetting that the process is at least as enjoyable as the outcome. No more so than where our hobbies are concerned.
If planning and goal setting and achieving results works for you, all power to you. But if that isn't making you happy, give it up, paint what you like, play what you like. Whatever you do, enjoy and celebrate it.


  1. An excellent post Tom, thank you. I'd never really looked at it like that. Time to relax a bit, I think!

  2. I actually had much the same thoughts lately - thanks for sharing this insight, I fully agree with it (even if it does not matter anyway ;-)

  3. Excellent post - I absolutely agree with the points you are making. The one target that I do find useful though is number of games a year. I find that does it sometimes drive me to make the effort to organise a game or just go along to the club and take part in one. I always feel better for making the effort.

  4. Well written and thought provoking introspection on our hobby in general, and blogging in particular.

    In blogging, I find that The Journey does carry more weight than The Arrival.

    Frequently, bloggers journal their endeavors with regular and routine periodicity. As readers, we often get a peek into the authors' thought process throughout a project's life cycle. We witness victories, defeats, hurdles, paths avoided, paths taken, and changes of focus and direction.

    Blogging is an outlet to chronicling that journey.

  5. Excellent points all around. Blogging is what I do to focus my hobby experience. I write for what I enjoy and if others like it, that's great. You are right, if I want time pressure, I already have a job and a family.

  6. Well said.

    For people for whom blogging is a marketing tool like Henry Hyde or Rich Clarke, a well thought out plan is essential. For the rest of us, it's a hobby and should be indulged in for no other reason than the joy of it.

  7. Excellent point. I find myself falling into the planning trap often, or fretting about my lack of updates. This is a good reminder of what we are here for.; relaxation.

  8. Just started a blog myself. For a long time I've thought about it but haven't bothered as I wasn't sure I wanted the 'pressure' of having to post regularly or the sense of failure should it be a 'tumbleweed strewn ghost town'.

    But in the end I came to the same conclusion as you...I'm doing it for me and my son. If I get to share my enthusiasms with others then great but I'm not going to worry about it.

    Now excuse me I have to go and plan my next blog post...

  9. Excellent points and I totally agree with you. I blog mainly for my own amusement and it's become an important part of the hobby for me. If people don't want to read or look then they should exercise the freedom not to! A right I also exercise on a regular basis :)

  10. Well summed up Tom. I made a decision a couple of years ago not to get stressed out by my leisure time and it was one of the best calls I have ever made. Having a break from blogging and painting, or even playing, is sometimes the right thing to do. It's supposed to be fun, isn't it! Thanks for the wise words :-)

  11. Thanks for all the kind words chaps.
    I posted this and worried that I was some lonely hippy railing against the modern world.
    Glad to know that at least I got the lonely bit wrong.

  12. well said Tom.. not unique to this hobby. Lots of opinions about the right way to do things in model railways for example. Ultimately it's a hobby and you do it how you want, share what you want. Completely out of character last year I set myself a target to finish my Prussian Napoleonic army and it worked for me.. but I enjoyed doing it. If I hadn't - I would have done something else!

  13. A thought provoking post. I find myself setting objectives to get units painted or whatever, I have started to question why. Like you said, its all about doing what you enjoy, in your free time, there should be no pressure!

    As to blogging, well we all have our reasons, personally its too keep my brother and mates back home updated as to what im doing..... simple as that really.

  14. I love this post, as I long time ranter/advocate of the hobby actually being fun this is music to my ears!

  15. Thanks for this post, Tom. The hobby needs more lonely hippies, so don't stop. I find blogging to be a kind of diary of my own efforts, plus a place to make some excellent friendships along the way, and both those results suffice for me.
    I have a very simply philosophy about the hobby, which is that if it doesn't bring you a sense of life and joy, then something is wrong with your approach, or you need to move on for a while and try something else that gives you those results.
    May your hobby give you life and joy for years to come.

  16. Good post Tom, a very inspiring read and good take on another aspect to "Hobbies". Not just our little one but any enjoyable pastime - it shouldn't become a chore.
    I enjoy your blog precisely because it's very butterfly like, I enjoy the variety and the obvious pleasure you get from your hobby.

  17. Very true, Tom. I mainly started my blog just to get my adventures in the hobby out there. Being mostly a solo wargamer, I find it a good way to engage with others in the hobby and focus my projects. Plus I have some friends that I don't see too often who get to have a bit of a nose at the things I am up to. I don't aim to become a famous blogger, or even a vaguely well known one. So I'm happy to post what I feel like, when I feel like it and if other people get some pleasure from that, then all the better!

  18. However, sometimes you need to plan and set a goal if you wish to participate in an event with painting requirements involved. Other then that I couldn't agree with you more as it's a hobby to be enjoyed and not slogged through.


    1. I agree.
      I've certainly used events to get an army finished.
      I'm not sure i ever enjoyed it though, and invariably I end up at 2am still sticking on static grass!

  19. Thank you for this post! It's spot on.

  20. Totally agree! That's why I've thrown all my stuff back in the box and plan to give it a rest for a while.
    Thanks for sharing these views!

  21. Thanks for the great advice. I must admit I started blogging this Christmas but I don't think I will ever be described as"organised!" Your post with film of Peter Cushing as a wargamer must rate as my favourite this year!
    Wear your cravat with pride
    Mike B

  22. That has to be one of the best, nay, IMHO, the best write up on the Hobby and the combined Blogging thereof. Well done to Mark for linking your post at TMP.

    1. Thanks Paul.
      Just a bit of a personal rant, really.
      Useful to read it again myself. I'm in danger of slipping back in to "project managing" a few things at the moment...
      Didn't know I was linked to from TMP. If I wasn't banned (for complaining about Tango) I'd pop over and respond :)