Paid partnership with Caran d’Ache.
Becoming a writer was never really on my agenda as a small human. For the entirety of my childhood I was absolutely certain that when I was older I would be a veterinary surgeon; I’d likely be married to another veterinary surgeon, and we’d live on a farm with our hoard of animals, muddy boots and red-faced children from our nightly open fires. Sure, I was an avid reader (you’d be stuck to find me without my nose in Jacqueline Wilson’s latest novel), but writing down my own story wasn’t part of my life plan at six years old.
It wasn’t until a recent trip to Geneva with luxury stationery and fine art brand Caran d’Ache that I really thought about how I became a writer and creator. Does anyone really ever get down to the nitty gritty of how they got to where they are today? It also made me ponder over the slight creative rut I’ve been stuck in for the past few months. Writing hasn’t come as easily since I’ve made it my career (at least on my blog anyway) and I’ve really had to get up and work at putting words on the page. The nostalgia of reconnecting with a much loved brand from my childhood and actually being invited to the place behind the pens got my head spinning with all my dreams and aspirations as a young EJP. It’s also helped me to get my mojo back. Isn’t it funny how things pan out? Read on to find out just how I became a writer as well as some top tips on how to stop the writer’s block.
How did I become a writer and content creator?
You could say that I was always destined to be in the creative industry, no matter how hard my surgeon instincts tried to quash it. The signs were always there. One of my other passions as a small human was to draw and create, and Caran d’Ache was unknowingly a big part of that process. Whack me in a corner with some colouring pencils and you’d likely not hear from me for the rest of the day. My father learnt that the hard way when he gave me some paints and left me to it. In just two short hours I created a pièce de résistance, sure to take anyone’s breath away. Yes, it was on the living room carpet and yes, it likely involved some kind of animal. The vet obsession was always firmly at the forefront of my mind.
I ditched my calling for art by the time Year 9 options came around. Vets didn’t have the time for drawing or painting and instead triple science, statistics and geography were on the agenda. That didn’t stop my friends and I from drawing out the latest in fashion designs or creating silly note-based games. You can probably gather that the dedication for a certain veterinary degree wasn’t really there.
After not stepping up to the mark at A-levels – that kind of chemistry just really wasn’t my thing as an 18 year old – I took a gap year to work and figure out what I wanted to do. The sudden realisation that I’d been repressing my creative flair was pretty imminent after some free time, and I enrolled onto an art foundation course for the following year. I spent university rekindling my love with design and immersing myself into art theory and photography journalism essays. Don’t worry, there was plenty of drinking too. However, when everyone else was complaining about their dissertation and I was loving the process of writing it, I quickly realised that there was something special in putting my own works to paper.
Upon leaving university and getting my first job in a PR agency, I started writing this blog as a way to talk about other creatives and give myself an outlet. As much as I liked to draw, I liked writing about other people doing it more. I invested huge chunks of my spare time into developing my own style, trying to perfect the grammatical rules I’d missed and pitching to potential platforms for publication. I’m not sure where the drive to make it a success came from, but it well and truly kicked in. Perhaps because I’d finally found something that I felt I was pretty good at.
Fast forward five years, and I’m proud to call blogging and freelance writing my full-time job. I have no training in the field, but blogging has helped me to carve my own voice and sell it to those that need it. It’s proof that you really can make things work on your own accord. That’s not to say that I’ve not struggled at times and writer’s block has certainly been a thing in the past. One of the problems with growing up in a digital age is not having the same sense of time and sometimes getting back to basics is the answer. For those of you aspiring to do better or to simply get out of a rut, here’s some tips and tricks to reignite your own creative spark.
Top tips for solving writer’s block and igniting your creative spark.
1. Go for a walk.
Walking solves everything. Fresh air solves everything. Leave your phone at home, or in your pocket, and just walk. Clear your mind, discover somewhere new and find the unexpected. Chances are that headline will make its way into your head at some point in the journey.
2. Create an energising playlist.
I’m easily distracted by the wrong kind of music and occasionally I’ll find myself grimacing at a tune. Not good for productivity. I try really hard to create playlists that motivate me or just settle into the background. Cheesy music really seems to get my fingers typing, sorry not sorry, Taylor Swift is my groove.
3. Read a book.
When I need to brainstorm, I often get in the bath with a book. There’s no better way to form new words than by ingesting old ones via a good novel. It could be on your subject matter or completely unrelated, either way it’ll get that side of your brain working. I highly recommend Emma Gannon’s ‘The Multi-Hyphen Method’ which never fails to get my cogs whirring.
4. Remove yourself. Get away.
Cliché I know but removing yourself from your normal surroundings can really go a long way when it comes to getting creative. It doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, the opposite could take you on a journey you didn’t quite expect. Flights to Europe are cheap (for the moment anyway), and a stay in a hostel will guarantee you a few nights with some interesting characters.
5. Learn the process behind your subject.
Research is quite obviously important and if you have the opportunity to get closer to your subject, do it. Head to your local library (huh, what’s that?) and make like the old days by whopping out a big heavy book and writing notes. I find it inspiring to collect postcards and create moodboards with them. If you have the chance to visit a factory or associated museum, do it, it will wake up your brain to start thinking.
6. Find a space free from distractions.
Find your happy place. Turn off your phone, your emails and any other social media distractions. Steer clear of people and any opportunities to be nosy. I wake up early for this very reason; nobody else is around to distract me.
7. Get a great pen.
Every writer has their favourite and actually, I haven’t had my own until now. The 849 pen from Caran d’Ache is a classic ballpoint pen with a hexagonal shape (no rolling off the table here) and with so many designs available, you’re guaranteed to find one that suits your style.
8. Put pen to paper and free write.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve got in life came from someone who wasn’t actually giving me the advice. Yes, I overheard it. A songwriter said that to solve their own blocks, they would sit in a room for an hour with absolutely no distractions and write what came into their brain, no editing allowed. They’d then revisit it for the next hour and edit and change words, but still freewriting to some extent. The result? Probably a song. I use this quite a lot when formatting articles, and while I haven’t produced any number one tunes, I have managed to successfully submit some work.
Disclaimer: This is a paid partnership with Caran d’Ache but all concept and love for the brand is my own.