Declaring Hobby Bankruptcy and Maintaining Sanity

With all the cool new stuff constantly being released by recently, it can be very easy to end up with a large hobby backlog. When this happens it’s possible to get overwhelmed by your “to do list,” and it starts to become a mental drag; when this kicks in, your hobby no longer feels fun and instead feels like working a job you hate. Sometimes it’s just best to declare something a lost cause and just start over afresh.

I went through this very recently. My backlog had grown too big for me to see sight of the end of it – especially with the glacial pace I paint at! When I took stock of what was in the queue I had 2 full armies: a jump-heavy Flesh Tearers list, and a mechanised Tempestus Scions list. Not counting fun stuff like vehicles and characters, I had well over 100 models to prepare, assemble and paint… and these are just the army projects! Throw in various starter boxes for other games, and other sundry small projects, and the list was nearer 400.

Too. Damn. Many.

What to do? My initial plan was to freeze buying anything new until I’d whittled the backlog down to a more manageable level. Such a sensible plan might work for many a struggling hobbyist, butnfortunately, it was not the right plan for me. Despite several months of not buying any new figures1, I made zero impact on the pile of miniatures I had to work through. On top of that, I found myself losing all inspiration for certain projects. Some of that came down to gnawing insecurities about being able to achieve the vision I had in my head, others from indecision about what that vision even was any more. In the end there was just a pile of boxes and sprues causing me to feel terrible every time I thought about it. This was no longer a hobby, it was a chore. Something had to give, and it would be great if it wasn’t me.

In the tech world, there’s a popular approach to email management called Inbox Zero. The idea is to have your email inbox as empty as possible, so the amount of time your brain is occupied by email is as close to zero as possible. The intention is to reduce the distraction and stress caused by an overwhelmingly full inbox. Related to Inbox Zero, is Email Bankruptcy – the practice of deleting all email older than a certain date (often that day) due to being completely overwhelmed.

One day I realised I needed to declare something similar – Hobby Bankruptcy – or I was going to drive myself out of a hobby I’ve loved for over 20 years.

How was I going to do this? Throwing out hundreds2 of pounds of miniatures would be insane, especially if I changed my mind about something. Selling would take too long, and was subject to the fickleness of others. The simplest (non-destructive) solution won out: I took everything 40K/WHFB related, and stashed it in the loft. Out of sight; out of mind. Literally. The only survivors of the “purge” were source books and the limited edition 25th anniversary Crimson Fists miniature.

I can’t express just how much of a weight off doing this has been. I’m no longer under (self imposed) pressure to work through a massive backlog I no longer had the enthusiasm for, and yet, if I rediscover that enthusiasm, I can pull individual kits from the loft to work on as and when I want to.

In the meantime though, I am free to start work on new projects3

And yes, I do know I’m crazy.


  1. And growing increasing anxious about not getting the cool new shinies. 
  2. OK, maybe it’s higher… 
  3. Obviously, any new projects will have much more strict rules around the number of models allowed in the queue at once. No more buying entire armies in one go! 
  1. That’s a really sensible solution – I took the ‘sell it’ route, and while I didn’t sell all of it, what was left was a far higher percentage of painted to unpainted which really helped ease the self-imposed pressure. I’ve now taken to keeping an Excel spreadsheet of my ‘pile of shame’, which, since I’m playing mainly skirmish games these days, is at a healthy 38 models left to paint, and that number is slowly decreasing at days go by.

    Best of luck gradually whittling down your unfinished projects! :)

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  2. I hear you here, I’ve had many projects on the go for the past while, but I’ve been systematically picking them off over the past few weeks.

    The hardest part for me is not adding to my queue. The more I play with a particular army the more I identify potential weaknesses and the more I want to pick up that kit right then and there. I can’t imagine what’d it be like if I had the stuff sitting behind me still in boxes, staring at me every night….

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