Thursday 17 October 2013

'The Hobby Matrix' or 'How to beat your hobby slump' or 'Getting your hobby Mojo back'

The 'hobby matix' is a concept I've been mulling over for quite a while. Its a tool for understanding how you prioritise aspects of the hobby and by understanding what gets you going when you feel de-motivated or have lost your mojo then you can review your matrix and hopefully find some spark to set you off again. It's funny though that I finally write this piece just as my own mojo is suffering but therein lies one of the princeps of how the matrix works - when you cannot find motivation for one aspect to the hobby then switch to another. Before we get into it though understand there's nothing scientific about this, I've just made it up so I can try to analyse whats going on when nothing is going on, but it could also help in time managing your hobby activities too.

So the first step is to assess what you enjoy most about the hobby, to list each aspect and rate from 1-10 how important it is and how much you enjoy it, these are your hobby priorities. I think most people would have the following 4:
  • painting
  • modelling
  • terrain
  • gaming
That's about as simple as it gets but you may even have more priorities and these could be:
  • blogging
  • forums
  • youtube watching [battle reports, painting tutorials]
If you don't do any of these things you could omit them completely from your priority list or you could add them as zero areas, aspects that you don't participate in but are part of the hobby. The point being that just because you don't have them as a priority doesn't mean they don't exist and by acknowledging them you can always dip into that acticivity and who knows? that may be the spark to rekindle your mojo. Even the smallest spark can start a fire and that's the primary reason for doing this.

So with your priorities rated you end up with a table like this [although a simple list could equally suffice]:

Hobby Priorities (out of 10)

Or if your a visual person a hobby matrix that looks like this:

or this:

However, I see the matrix as a fluid beast, whereas the priority table is your general fixed point - your baseline to judge the matrix.

For instance I believe my hobby priorities would look something like this as a list:
  • painting - 7
  • modelling - 7
  • terrain - 9
  • gaming - 8
  • blogging - 6
  • forums - 9
  • youtube watching [battle reports, painting tutorials] - 3
and my baseline matrix would be this:
But I can tell you now that's not where my mojo is currently focussed. I like most of those activities but you'd be hard pressed to correleate the quantity of my blog posts with those priorities. I find painting quite tedious in some respects but it's a necessity and can get decent results, hence why it features so much on the blog but really only rates 7/10. Meanwhile, I love doing terrain, I can visualise and think about terrain more than anything, but reality means it sits way down on my list of things to do [yeah that's common with everyone right!]. Therefore it's a priority of 9 but when we look at my current matrix it would look more like this:
And this illustrates that your priorities are not always what you prioritise, because you end up prioritising the necessities. Having a fully painted army is a necessity. I need my Dark Angels done so I can stop focussing on the nids and fulfill that goal of painting them. Of course necessities turn up and shift and change and that is evidenced by my 'to do list' being added and amended throughout the year.

Of course the next step to seeing your hobby in chart from and recognising where your priorities lie is to then allocate appropriate effort to those things you are motivated to do. That can be done with a pie- chart of my baseline matrix:
And then once that's figured out you can then factor in your hobby time to the situation in that if you've two hours of hobby time then the breakdown of what your doing in that time could be:
  • painting - 16.8 minutes
  • modelling - 16.8 minutes
  • terrain - 21.6 minutes
  • gaming - 19.2 minutes
  • blogging - 14.4 minutes
  • forums - 21.6 minutes
  • youtube watching [battle reports, painting tutorials] - 7.2 minutes
Which is wholly impractical that you could try and fit a 20 minute game into those two hours, or that once you've started watching one 10 minute painting tutorial you would stop 7.2 minutes into it because you had 14.4 minutes of blogging to do. But if you were to anally record what you were spending your hobby time doing you could then see if ti correlated with what you thought you should be doing.

However, I think I've definitely discovered something over my time blogging these last [nearly] 3 years and that's you always need to 'go with the flow' whatever is enjoyable at this moment in time then do that. The hobby matrix is really just a last resort exercise, a way to formalise what you like and by accepting those interests you can forcibly kickstart your mojo, but in a direction you already know it wants to go - trying to put a round peg in a round hole, instead of a square peg!

One last option is at least if you have that list you can always dice off what you're going to do with your hobby time!

But where does that lead me and my situation? Well, worrying about my lack of mojo seems to have overshadowed the fact I've recently been brimming with excitement and passion to do print and play terrain. I found my first set of efforts extremely rewarding and I know that for a short time at least I will get a lot of it. Unfortunately I can foresee a point where thats going to prove less rewarding. Investing time that should be spent on things that 'need' to be done should be my real world priority, which goes back to what I was saying about painting not being a priority but sitting high in my matrix. In the eman time though I'm enjoying it and therefore I may well be sharing some of the progress on the blog as I would any other project, as opposed to my usual terrain posting which is 'hey look what I've just completed'.
Best music video of all time!
I've also been helping my brother paint his lizard vivarium so although that's not 40k and actually feels a little pressured - it needs to be done this week as his shift pattern changes next week and I won't be able to do it, it's no different from when I could foresee how long it would take to make my Tyranid Bastion but I know that the end result will be equally impressive. So I may share some pics of that too in due course.

So feel free to comment below if you think this is all a load of pseudo-science claptrap, but in the world of 40k I think it makes certain sense, you really need to feed and treat your own 'machine spirit' and then it'll repay with mojo.


  1. You, sir, are a hero. I am currently in a below zero state of hobbying. Even my blog hasn't seen an update since October 3rd. Glad to see I'm not the only one experiencing this.
    I mean, I've got a Chaos army in its baby steps and an enormous Fellblade waiting to be finished. But even that isn't enough to move me.
    To me, a good denominator for my mojo is me strolling through sites like Forge World getting high on ideas for what to paint or convert. But even that is nihil nowadays.

    1. Cheers Revan88, when the hobby feels like you're wading through treacle sometimes you just have to push on through. Maybe do the most menial jobs or painting task because lets face it the last thing you want to be doing when you have your mojo is something dull but necessary. Keep at it!

  2. wow. nice matrix. I was going over similar matrices in a recent RAND Corp. publication that was rating the characteristics of various military systems used for long-range precision strike (F-35, long range bombers, cruise missiles, etc). So kinda funny. Great blog -- really good content.

    1. Thanks William, I was aiming for a correlation between my hobby matrices and the effectiveness of modern military strike weapons, I'm glad someone spotted it ;) Thanks for stopping by, tell your friends.