Saturday, October 19, 2013


Planning. Of course we all plan, for projects and all kinds of other activities. But sometimes planning gets a bad name. One way of putting it is the old saw, “paralysis by analysis.” Certainly that can happen, and I’d be the first to caution against it. But in my experience, planning is usually vital to my own work.
     I know well that when there is a clear plan for anything, I can move ahead and get it done. One of my uncles, who worked for Ma Bell in the old days, used to call it, “work from the book.” Once you have a principle established, whether it’s a repair procedure (as in his work) or any other kind of project, you know what to do and can proceed. And that kind of progress can be very enjoyable, because things come together cleanly and reasonably quickly.
     But the other side of the coin is the planning which doesn’t reach a closure point, the kind of vague or incomplete outline that doesn’t give you a clear direction for work. And as often as not, this kind of gray fog is hard to escape, because you haven’t quite figured out where it should go. This readily leads to “paralysis by analysis,” because you are kind of spinning your wheels without getting any traction.
     I’ve even heard people say, “just get started, and you can work out the details as you go.” Now it’s sometimes true that getting started is a lot of the battle, and things get moving once you begin. And of course, getting snarled up in one of those kinds of projects where a plan just won’t come together can sour you on the whole idea of making a complete plan. Hey, why not just get out there and start work? You can feel your way along, and figure it out as you go.
     An example of doing just that is my Nocturnal Aviation industry. I had an idea of where to go with it, making a longer, one-sided building from the original kit, and in fact that’s what finally happened. I described this project previously: . But that account is misleading, because it sounds like the entire thing was planned in advance, then proceeded smoothly.
     The reality was much different. Not having arrived at a clear idea of how to modify the Heljan kit, I just started cutting and gluing on what I believed were the obvious basic parts, figuring a fuller picture would come to me as I progressed. But that really didn’t happen, and twice I had to disassemble what I was doing and head off in a different direction. But even that wasn’t the worst of it. Every time I hit a dead end, the project would get set aside in frustration, and just sit for weeks. And there kept being issues I couldn’t seem to resolve, like how to detail the roofs.
     Eventually I did stumble up to a reasonable finishing point, and I now think the ultimate result turned out well. Here is how it looked on the layout in Pittsburgh.

But the time span to do the work, and the frustration and annoyance of getting stalled over and over, made me really dislike the structure during the struggle, and even after it was first done. Luckily I didn’t scrap it in the middle.
     The learning point for me was that project planning can be essential, not just helpful, even if it postpones digging into the work for awhile. (And we all find ourselves champing at the bit sometimes to get started on an appealing project.) Today I would not undertake another kitbash without thinking it through, just because of my experience with that one structure, and I would tend to feel the same about most modeling projects.
Tony Thompson

No comments:

Post a Comment