Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis. This is me right now.

I have a number of model train projects on the go, and I’m not executing on any of them.

Lance Mindheim just wrote a post “Fear of the Inconsequential” where he wrote about the “fear of getting it wrong”. That’s me, all right.

What do I have going on?

  1. Neglected fascia
    Neglected fascia

    Fascia – I started installing fascia on the layout, but I quickly realized I don’t know how to get around the corners. I’ve reached out for help, got some, but I lack confidence. Some of it is too long and needs to be trimmed, and I don’t have a table saw. I feel like it’s not going to look very professional, so right now the majority of the fascia sits in my garage, painted and slowly getting dirty and unusable.

  2. Ballast – I’ve ballasted all of the visible CN track that I am going to do. I’ve done patches of the CP track but I haven’t finished it. Why not? I really don’t know.
  3. Scenery – I’ve done some bits of scenery here and there, but the main part of the layout – Georgetown – is undecorated. I have an idea in my head of what it should look like, but I don’t know where to start so I don’t.
  4. Kits – I have several model kits that I haven’t started. Some are Intermountain grain hoppers and for those I am just intimidated by the number of parts. I have a couple of Athearn “blue box” kits that I know I can do, but I haven’t done them. Also I have a grain elevator mostly complete, but I can’t move from 85% complete to 100% complete because.. I don’t know why not. I have some great decals from Precision Design on it but I need a few more.

I know I should “just do it” as Nike said. Something is better than nothing. I can always go back and make it better if I don’t like the result.

I know this.

But I have to get over this internal fear of screwing up before I can move forward.

Here’s hoping that happens soon.

What do you do to push past these internal roadblocks?

8 thoughts on “Analysis Paralysis”

  1. I have suffered from this most debilitating road block as well. Sometimes I blast through and things turn out great. Every so often I don’t like how something turns out. It frustrates me, I take it apart as quickly as possible and redo or fix it.

    Not everything will be perfect, but there is nothing that can’t be fixed or learned from.

    To quote a movie I really like: “Keep moving forward!” Any progress is good progress.

  2. When I saw Lance’s post I thought the exact same thing. I’ve recently been able to push past some of my blocks in regards to painting and airbrushing. I’ve broken, fixed, and replaced a couple inexpensive airbrushes so far and found the process an invaluable learning experience. I’ve learned how to tell when the paint is too thick, or has dried on the needle and how to properly clean it to resolve those problems (also know how not to clean it…). I also took the plug on paint stripping on models and while I don’t know it all I’ve learned enough to reduce the fear in trying something new. But I still have to work through decals, weathering, scenery to name a few.

    For your point #1 I learned a few tricks a couple years ago when I got into woodworking (was briefly a hobby, still enjoy it just don’t have the time). Since all I had was a circular saw at the time I found you could make straight short cuts by holding a roofing square ( along a straight edge of the board with the lip part keeping the square straight. If you are confident enough to hold it with one hand and cut with the other you can do that or a quick clamp down to hold it in place. For longer cuts i have a variation of this ( If I have a sturdy cutting surface, measure twice, and take things slowly I can get more reliable cuts easier with these tools than my table saw. You just need to make sure you don’t rush the saw what you are cutting is either nice and rigid or very well supported so it doesn’t move, flex or sag.

    As long as your cutting mistakes don’t involve damaged body parts it’s just wood that can be replaced. If you make a mistake do a mini retrospective (common in software industry… wish my current company did them) where you look at how things went wrong (was it mis-measured, did a cutting guide clamp slip/not get tightened enough, did the saw not stay tight against the guide etc). This way you know what to do differently. Then worst case scenario it’s wasted material but it just might be salvage able or re-used somewhere else where the imperfection doesn’t matter. And more importantly it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, most people won’t notice or care and there is no need to worry about the people who do. Specifically to fascia, imperfections are a great place to put a car card or throttle box or location sign or anything else to cover up the problem spot. (This also works with art/photos and drywall imperfections)

    • Thanks Matt for the detailed reply and the support. I really appreciate your tips on wood working and I will definitely refer to them. I haven’t ventured into airbrushing – I hope to someday – but rattle can spraying doesn’t scare me. There is so much to learn in this hobby and I often have a hard time getting past the fear of failure. I can tell my kids it’s ok to fail but I don’t take the lesson myself!

  3. Sometimes I just let a roadblock linger because it is just one thing and not the whole list. For example, I just completed the final step of wiring an Arduino-controlled, pneumatic, 8-chime whistle in my train room after leaving all the parts in plain view for several months. It works great! Now to see how long it takes me to put the tools away…

    • That whistle sounds very interesting! Your tactic sounds like mine of leaving projects “in the way” until they annoy me enough that I actually do them.

  4. Steve…one thing you have to understand is that it’s a hobby, and hobbies are just that……hobbies. Do them when you want to do them, or don’t. This isn’t your career, where your progress is measured and quantified and qualified. Supposed to be fun, and when it isn’t don’t do it. Let the model railroad or whatever hobby it is just it weeks or months or whatever time frame. No one’s looking over your shoulder and cracking the whip, and you shouldn’t be making a guilt trip out of it.
    I haven’t done anything on my layout for over a month, maybe more. Meh, so what. I’m not motivated right now. There’s a long winter ahead of us. Don’t beat yourself up over it. When the creatives juices start flowing again, and they will, just pick up where you left off and carry on.

    ….along the CEMR.

    • Hi Glen, certainly it is not my job and there’s no external pressure to move forward with the layout. It’s all internal. In some ways it’s like me and guitar playing. I want to know how to play a guitar, but I don’t want to put the work in to learn how!

      I want to have a finished layout, but I don’t have the motivation to finish it… but I can report that I did put some of the fascia on last week so some motivation did come my way.


Leave a comment