Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Good Enough

One of my on-going challenges with the hobby of gaming and miniatures is to stay focused on my current effort.  I find it very easy to be pulled this way and that by the latest shiny thing that catches my eye.  The result: not much productivity outside of acquiring new toys.

As I posted last week, the Brigadista and I have taken on a new project - the Early Pacific War.  The aims of this project are pretty limited at this point and not that many figures or vehicles will be required to get started.  In fact, that was a major selling point for both of us.

For some reason I have found it very hard to get going on this project.  As I said, I don't have that much that I really need to do and it wouldn't take that much concerted effort to get it done.  However, every time I go down to the basement to work on it, I find myself working on something else.  

I suppose it is a bit like being back in college and procrastinating on that paper you know you need to write.  Sure you could start it early and save yourself some stress, but instead you wait until the last minute and then crank it out in an all-nighter.  There is nothing like an impending deadline to provide that extra bit of motivation to get you over the hump.

Thinking it over, though, there is something more to it than simple procrastination.  To me, there is something amazingly appealing about a project that hasn't been started yet.  A project that hasn't been started is perfect in every way.  Pristine.  A project that is underway has flaws and shortcomings.  (I didn't use the perfect shade of green for their pants.  I got brown paint on that guy's face.)  It's messy.  (There's a bunch of half-painted guys glued to sticks all over my painting desk.  There's a bunch of half-built tanks all over my workbench.)

Ultimately, I'm a bit of a dreamer.  That's not unusual in this hobby.  I'm also a perfectionist, but not the "good" kind.  The "good" kind of perfectionist works tirelessly to try to complete his or her vision, never resting until it's complete.  At least that's my idealized vision of a perfectionist.  (A perfect perfectionist, if you will.)  In reality people like that get ulcers and lose sleep and drink too much.  I'm a lazy perfectionist.  When it becomes clear that my perfect vision isn't obtainable, my instinct isn't to work harder.  My instinct is to move on to a new project that still has the potential for perfection.

This is obviously a trap.  An excuse not to ever get anything done.  Every human undertaking has flaws to one degree or another.  There is no perfect miniatures project.  There will be flaws with the figures, there will be flaws with the painting, and there will be flaws with the games.  If you limit yourself to only producing perfect work, you will never produce anything.

The key, then, is finding a balance between the perfect vision and the imperfect execution of that vision.  A happy little place I like to call "good enough."  Good enough is an obtainable level of quality that meets your vision without exceeding your abilities and resources.

For me, determining "good enough" requires some mental negotiation.  I look at the final result of my work and ask myself if I can reasonably do it any better.  I also ask myself if I would be embarrassed to show the completed work in public.  If the answer to both questions is no, than the work is "good enough" and I can move on.

Last night I forced myself to stop planning a new project and get back to the KNIL.  I didn't get a lot done, but it was a step forward.  I'm looking forward to getting these figures on the table.

1 comment:

Brigadista said...

There's a new project?!! Why wasn't I notified? What are we doing? What do I need to BUY???!!!