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How-to Tuesday: Balancing Life vs Hobby

How-to Tuesday: Balancing Life vs Hobby

Ah, the eternal problem.  All too often I hear people gripe about not getting “permission” to go to the game store, or needing a “kitchen pass” in order to come to a tournament.  Being able to balance your hobby time and family (or non-gaming friends) time is not hard, and boils down to the same fundamental ideas that are used for speed painting: make a small spot of time in which you can paint, be as efficient as possible, set small, obtainable goals.

So sayeth the dice gods.

Step 1: Set an established routine

This one’s simple.  You need to have a dedicated, regular night for game night.  More often than not, your LGS has a night where the game tables are reserved for your choice hobby, so that helps you set your routine.  Several of the guys at my local store have deals with their bosses and employers to never have to work that night, or to never be “on call”, etc.  It’s just the one night a week they can’t sacrifice on.  Perhaps it costs you a working lunch every once in a while, or a late Friday, but if you want the game time, trade-offs must be made.

Likewise for painting.  Work with your significant other / family to set up some time when it’s OK for you to be anti-social.  Perhaps they have a TV show they love and you don’t care about.  BOOM – that’s 30-60 minutes right there!

"It's like a soap opera with marginally better acting and way better clothes." - Ladyzoid


Step 2: Don’t try to do too much

Don’t look for a chunk of time that will let you paint an entire unit in one sitting.  Those rarely exist.  Instead, set smaller goals when you sit down to paint.  Try to get one basecoat color finished.  Break a 6-man unit into 3-man segments. Sure, you may need a second coat for even coverage, but that’s tomorrow’s goal.  The next day, work on the other basecoat color.  By the end of the week, you have a unit fully basecoated in roughly 5-6 hours of work.  Peacemeal it, and before you realize what’s going on, you’re making measurable progress.

This step revolves around the idea of efficiency.  Use speed painting techniques, take short-cuts, and even consider lowering your standards some.  Don’t think of every model as a show piece, just get things to tabletop quality and be done.  You can always strip the models and re-paint to your high(er) standards later, once the whole army is done.

Some people will hate me for this, but don’t watch TV or movies while painting.  It slows you down.  Listen to music or Skype with friends instead.  Just try it for a night and you’ll see what I mean.  It’s like doing homework in front of the TV.  Sure, it eases the pain, but it really just distracts you from what really matters.

Step 3: Don’t loose momentum

This is a big one for me.  I’ll get very gung-ho about finishing a model, and halfway through I’ll just loose steam because of … oh, shiny!  I’ve started keeping my desk clear of all models I’m not painting, and I’ve even moved my assembly stuffs into the living room, so that I don’t get caught up with assembly while painting.

A while ago, I spoke about this very thing, and so I’ll shamelessly link back to myself in true blogger fashion.  I’m going to go read this, since I need to get back into gear.  Especially with a slow-grow league coming up…

Directions... I need them.

Step 4: Remember, it’s supposed to be fun.

If you absolutely loathe some part of the hobby, then stop trying to make it fit.  If you don’t enjoy painting, don’t paint.  (That hurt to say).  If you really don’t care about playing the game, stop trying to find a list that works for you and just paint models you like.

I have two rules whenever I’m talking about the hobby with someone:

  1. Have fun.  If you aren’t, you’re doing it wrong.
  2. See Rule #1

There are players of every type at my store.  There are several that just really enjoy the game; they wipe the table with me whenever we play and I have to push them to paint anything.  There are others who always show me their latest masterpiece and would rather talk about painting and the background than play a game – even during a league.

The wonderful thing about this hobby is that there are so many aspects to it, and they’re all important.  So no matter which part you enjoy the most, there’s a place for you in the community.  Take advantage of that to stretch your bounds, as well as share your knowledge and help someone else grow.

Step 5: Involve your friends / family

Ask for their input.  If your significant other enjoys decorating the house or fashion, they’re likely a good source of color theory, and color scheme advice.  Alternatively, ask them for blog ideas.  For instance, this article (the entire How-to Tuesday series, in fact) was Ladyzoid’s idea.  Also, she wanted me to include this picture:

This is the Kitten Puddle, guaranteed to make any girl melt. Instantly. (I understand that somewhere in the future, this being evolves into the Tribble...)

While friends and family may not be into helping you with the hobby, do sit them down and explain it to them.  Explain that it’s a creative outlet for you, or a stress reliever.  If they don’t understand it,m you’ll take more heat for it.  If they understand they why, they will likely be more forgiving of your time spent on the hobby and not with them.  They may even try it out, or join you every once in a while.

How do you balance the hobby with friends and family?

View Comment (1)
  • I really think you’ve hit all the good points here. I think the last paragraph is especially important – all too often gamers (myself included) get defensive about their hobbies and don’t want to be picked on (more or less) by their spouse/significant other about being a geek and their geeky hobbies, so they’d rather just not bother trying to explain that their games ARE hobbies and most often times a great stress reliever and sometimes the only real outside of work social interaction they get. My wife is a perfect example of this IMHO, yeah, she still teases me about being a geek, but she’s come to honestly understand that gaming and painting are things that I really enjoy that allow me to destress and have the added benefit that when I do spend time with my wife and daughter, I’m more focused on them and what we’re doing rather than wondering when I can find time to sneak off to paint or model.

    Lastly, she realized that while gaming isn’t exactly “cheap,” I don’t use tons of cash on it on a monthly basis and in her eyes, its levels above blowing it on alcohol or gambling or classic cars (something I’d dearly love to get into). But all of this came about because I talked with her about it – several times; it wasn’t a one-time conversation. But like most things in any relationship, it comes down to communication, understanding, and compromise.


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