The doldrums hit all of us. We all reach that point where our hobby activities don’t offer the satisfaction they once did. I’ve been there for a while now.

This is frustrating when you don’t understand the reason(s) behind the lack of enthusiasm and it feels strange that what was once so marvelous, now isn’t.

The typical course of action and advice proffered is to begin anew. If the challenges are gone from the existing project, then it’s time to scrap the whole thing and begin the process all over again. This can be good if, one pursues new challenges that stretch and build your modeling capacity. For example, if all you’ve ever used is commercial track, then handlaying track is a logical next step to explore because it increases your modeling capacity by giving you options that commercial track doesn’t.

However, I see no sense in tearing down one layout only to build another in the same manner. If all you’re doing is repeating yourself, then you’ve confused the allure of the new and shiny for the deep internal satisfaction of genuine learning and effort. Further, you’ll soon be right back at this point and then what? Do it all over of course. That’s what fuels the economy of this hobby.

I’ve done enough reflection and have enough experience to know that it isn’t the layout, the scale, the choice of prototype, or any of the usual suspects blamed for flagging interests in the hobby. It’s me.

My layout hasn’t changed; it’s just an inert thing until I do something with it or to it. So what has changed? I have. For every layout that doesn’t satisfy anymore, the builder would be better served if he looked into the bathroom mirror and asked: What’s wrong?

Maybe there’s nothing wrong. It’s perfectly natural that our interests ebb and flow for a season. That’s not a character flaw or a disaster, it’s just being human.

I find that my interest dwindles when I’m unclear about the way forward. Trying to decide what to do next or whether anything should be done saps mental energy that would go toward creative work under normal circumstances. I won’t dwell on the particulars here. Any choices about the layout or my pursuit of the craft are ultimately mine to make and no one can truly see into the mind of another and understand the influences behind such choices.

Take a break
I tossed out the question of how do you recharge on the OST Facebook page and the responses revolved around the pursuit of something different like camping and fishing or photography or whatever. This is excellent advice as it indicates a well-rounded life, one full of different interests.

Woodworking provides that refreshment for me and I finished up a bit trim work in my office last week. It was good to get the tools out and to make sawdust again. Plus, the tangible and satisfying results are right there every time I look up from the keyboard.

All of us would benefit from a bit of introspection first
Even experienced modelers aren’t immune to the start over mentality. This isn’t a judgment because as previously mentioned there are too many unknown factors at work with any such choice.

Rather than rushing to get the wrecking bar though, reflecting on a handful of questions might prove valuable in the long-term.

  • Have my interests changed? If yes, in what ways? Have my skills increased beyond the level of modeling I’m currently practicing -does the work come too easily now?
  • Has the learning curve flattened out? Am I bored with the hobby in general or just with this project?
  • How can I bring the challenge back to the existing project?
  • Have I truly explored the many layers of depth to my current theme or choices?
  • Unless the overall workmanship would benefit greatly, why do I think a fresh start is the answer? Would the benefits gained outweigh the loss of time and material costs?

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that a layout has run its course and indeed it’s time to move on. One’s interests do change and mature over the years and your pursuit of the craft should reflect that.

Now let me put any speculation to rest. This isn’t a prelude to some earth-shattering announcement, or wishful thinking in disguise. The layout is still there, intact and safe. I’m just in a reflective mood.

I’m not concerned by my low level of personal motivation. I’ve been here before and know it will pass. Meanwhile, it’s good to get reacquainted with other areas of life and who knows, the time away may provide the space needed for inspiration.

Regards,
Mike