Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The Writing Desk Blog.
Now, imagine I’m about to introduce you to an auditorium, filled with the smiling faces of folks fuelled by caffeine and an eagerness to learn. What would I say?
“Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce…
Chloe Hall, Marketing Consultant and Founder of Bumble and Bloom Media
Here’s the part where we’d sit down and try and look comfortable next to the microphones. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Can you name the business book that’s always on your desk? (I’m talking about the one that’s covered in pencil marks, coffee stains and has turned down corners…)
Confession: I am a business book commitment-phobe. I half read one thing and then excitedly start another, peeling tiny corners back of all the pages I like or the ones that said something interesting and maybe one day I’ll type it up and revisit.
Spoiler alert: I never do.
At one stage, I had so many barely-read business books precariously piled up on my desk I decided to wrap them all in brown paper and mix them up and I wasn’t allowed to buy another book or open any of them until I’d finished that one. It worked!
As a result, I just finished “Shopped” by Joanna Blythman and my god I’m glad I dedicated the time to this complex but compelling 300 page bible. Though published over 10 years ago, Joanna’s book fortuitously caught my attention on one of those 50p stalls and genuinely changed the direction I wanted to take my business in thanks to its devastating and emotive exposé of supermarket culture.
What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?
I loved the “This Girl Can” campaign that featured women of all shapes and sizes and abilities getting active and moving their bodies for stronger mental and physical health. It was a breath of fresh air compared to the “beach body” “only 100 calories” “
Can you imagine how hard the suffragettes would roll their eyes if they knew all of their hard work was sidelined to install “must be beach body ready” or “slim down for summer” marketing messages in our brains?
“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?
Consistency. Even the best writers’ writing will suck after a hard day, ill health or juggling childcare – whatever it may be for you personally.
The mundaneness and busyness of life gets in everyone’s way but consistently sitting down to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) will not only help you discover the right words, it’s an opportunity to get the wrong ones out too so you know what you don’t want to write or sound like and can go from there and edit your work.
I used to work in publishing writing for magazines before starting Bumble and Bloom Media, moving on to writing press releases and content for social media, websites and blogs and the same still rings true.
I certainly don’t sit down at my desk every day and effortlessly create content that clients will sign off first time. I’m human, I get tired and uninspired and poorly and disappointed and that all has an effect on my work, but if I consistently sit down at my desk and try, that’s what gets me to my deadlines.
If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?
Oddly, for someone who prides herself on hitting deadlines, I’d say there’s no rush to complete something you’re working on.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether it takes you six days or six months to shape an idea for a product, service or even a piece of content for your website, because when you are creating something for yourself it’s a real joy and a pleasure to have the time to mull an idea over and shape it and for it to evolve over time.
I was convinced I wanted to lend my marketing expertise to help ambitious SMEs get stocked in supermarkets but after pausing to spend time reading Joanna’s book (mentioned above) I completely changed my mind.
Now if I’d rushed the business plan and marketing strategy for my exciting new idea to get it done instead of spending time reading this book it would have been a complete waste of time and energy.
Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?
Silence if I’m really busy or struggling to concentrate, podcasts if I’m in no particular hurry just bumbling along through my to-do list for that day.
I can’t bear the radio, I never have it on in the car or the house because I hate not being in control of what comes next or having to sit through a load of adverts.
I much prefer being able to choose a song and skip if I don’t like what comes on next via Spotify or Youtube.
What are your top three novels of all time – and why?
- The Harry Potter series – because nothing else quite captivated my imagination and attention like it growing up. If I had £1 for every time someone at my university sneered at the mention of Harry Potter…. I’d be a rich lady.
- Down The Rabbit Hole, by former Playboy Bunny Holly Madison – before you get all high-brow on me (and technical, I know this book is non-fiction) so much of Holly’s story and experiences resonate with me personally that this surprisingly became one of the best books I’ve read. I downloaded it on my audible app in advance of a long car journey and I’ve listened to it 3 times. Thank goodness for curiosity (and audible).
- Jo Malone’s autobiography “My Story” was another surprising can’t put it down moment. I bought it for myself one Christmas not really expecting much and I read it cover to cover in two days. I thought I knew how Jo Malone (the brand) was built through various PR articles but as this book reveals, what we think we know and what happened are two very different things. As a business
ownerI found it so inspiring, but also as a woman havinghad to make tough decisions and deal with big responsibilities in my life it really resonated with me.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?
My resignation letter from my last full time job before I became self-employed. I didn’t know at the time I was going to start a business, but I had known for at least a year that I was ready to do something else but had no idea what. That letter was me finally taking the plunge and taking a risk (Chloe doesn’t like taking big risks).
What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.
Wine and milk from ASDA. Everyday essentials I’m sure you’ll agree.
Who was your teenage crush?
Johnny Depp – I was obsessed with him in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and even Edward Scissorhands. My family used to sign birthday cards to “Chloe Depp” and I had posters in my bedroom of his Rolling Stones cover and Pirates films.
If we’re being honest, I still fancy him now, aged 27.
Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
We used to go to the South of France every year camping when I was younger – my mam would drive me, my older sister and little brother by herself to a campsite in France for two weeks in the summer holidays and I can vividly remember nothing would satisfy you more after a busy morning of playing in the pool in the sunshine than sitting on those white plastic chairs devouring a giant margherita pizza and hot skinny fries from the pool-side bar on holiday.
Simple, salty and greasy, washed down with an icy cold Orangina or Fanta lemon before running back off to play. What more could you want?
What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt?
If I were to give you a private jet, David Attenborough as a tour guide and a month off work – all expenses paid – where would you go and what or who would you write about – and why?
I’d go somewhere tropical with endless beaches and lush greenery and lots of wildlife that I could pet. I’d swim in the sea every day and go dolphin spotting on a boat. I love being on the water and I love sailing.
I’d sit with my toes dipped in the water morning, noon or night, pen in hand writing about the scenery and how alive this place made me feel.
What’s in your pockets?
Nothing right now surprisingly, there’s usually a ton of dog poo bags reside in every coat I own (the perks of having three dogs.)
Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?
Pen and paper preferably because I feel more connected to what I’m writing, but I can’t write as fast as I can type (also I’m left handed so those ring binder notebooks are no good for because they hurt my hand when I write and I spread ink across the page) so often it’s keyboard and screen – especially if I’m journaling and writing War and Peace as it spills out from my brain and I need to capture every word as though it was a precious memory for Dumbledores’ pensieve.
Do you read any blogs or magazines about writing? (And I mean read, not just subscribe to and delete/leave on your desk and recycle?)
Not religiously, no. (See above about being a commitment-phobe)
Either I am excited by something and flit to it and consume it there and then, or I avoid most mainstream things should they contain predictable repurposed content for clickbait because I find it dull and a waste of my precious time.
You know the ones… “going outside helps you relax – click to find out why” or “did you know writing with a pen and paper is good for getting the creative juices flowing? “
I’m a busy woman, so when I pause to read something I want to be inspired or humbled or made to laugh and think. Apparently that’s too much to ask these days; given the rise of self-publishing via blogs and social media, publishing is now so competitive. Rising print costs and social media algorithms manipulating what we’re shown, I think the quality of what’s out there has plummeted and it’s hard to find the good stuff. You get exhausted sifting through – or scrolling past – the clickbait and memes after a while and give up.
Tea – or coffee? What’s your poison?
Coffee – a properly made cappuccino is my favourite but I do also love a vanilla chai latte (neither of which I will order at high street chain coffee shops as they all taste like disappointment and regret because you wasted £3+)
Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?
At home I will only use my Emma Bridgewater mugs because I like their shape, they are big enough to hold lots of coffee and dip biscuits into, I also love their brightly coloured patterns. They’re a mug you can hug!
Family members very kindly always get me an EB mug or some kind of bowl or plate for Christmas and birthdays.
What was your most adored children’s book? And character?
Mrs Tiggywinkle from Beatrix Potter was my favourite character, The Beatrix Potter series my favourite books.
They started a lifelong obsession with hedgehogs. I became the proud parent of a real hedgehog in December 2017 when I was gifted a one-eared baby African pygmy hedgehog for Christmas who is now affectionately known as Pickled Onion (or Mr P Onion if we are to give him his official title).
Your favourite word?
“Piss off I’m busy”.
Oh sorry, that’s a phrase…
Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?
My brother and sister like to wind me up and write “Chole” in all of my cards or on those name candles you can buy for birthday cakes because they know how much it annoys me. If I had £1 for every time someone had written my name as “Chole” in cards/letters/emails etc I’d probably have that house deposit already.
Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?
Either at home, with my dogs, or at the beach… also with my dogs. I’m a bit of an extroverted introvert (Google it, it’s a real thing), I enjoy my own company and the company of my dogs more than most humans. Come rain or shine I’ll be at the beach because I love being beside the water and the waves.
Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?
I have an extremely eclectic taste in music so depending on my mood I can be rapping along to Eminem, The Weeknd or Nicki Minaj one minute then turning the volume up when anything by Sean Paul comes on.
I also love Sia and old favourites like Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers and Linkin Park so my playlist is usually a real megamix, but it makes me happy.
Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.
Sean Paul or Sia probably.
Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?
I am naturally drawn to write when I’m upset or sad, usually I’ll be sat up in bed unable to sleep with my laptop on my knee trying to make sense of something in my head or that happened and write down what I’m thinking.
I also scribble a lot of thoughts down in the bath. Something about the water and the door being locked with no one to disturb me is a bit of a strange writing ritual.
What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?
I made a start sorting out my mountain of receipts for my tax return, so sat at the kitchen table and got stuck in…
Can you describe the last photograph you took?
A photo of a bunch of peonies I just bought, they’re my favourite flowers and I am obsessed with them at each stage – from tight little pink bud to big frilly pink flower.
What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?
Many, many Pinterest quotes.
What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?
I am obsessed with a podcast series by psychologist Esther Perel and as geeky as this sounds, some parts are so profound or relevant I write them down in a little notebook.
What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?
Ernest Hemingway likened writing to bleeding and on some occasions it certainly feels like that.
Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?
If you’re a Westworld fan (I’m a big fan) it would be Anthony Hopkins’ character Dr Robert Ford so he’d be my Mad Man, and Dolores would be my Mad Woman!
Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it?
“Pride” is a film we watch over and over in my house (Google bills it as “a 2014 British LGBT-related historical comedy-drama film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus”. Realising that they share common foes in Margaret Thatcher, the police and the conservative press, London-based gays and lesbians lend their support to striking coal miners in 1984 Wales.)
Not only is it the perfect combination of British wit and dry humour, it’s got all of the feels and the storyline keeps you on your toes. Highly recommend!
Which book or books is/are by your bed today?
Blackout – the memoir by Sarah Hepola which I’ve read twice. It’s about a young
Who was or is your greatest teacher?
My friends – I’ve always been quite a mature “old soul” which might explain why a lot of my close friends are older than me, usually in their late 30 or 40s. The age difference isn’t remotely important, but I find they have lots to teach me and do it in subtle lovely ways, imparting wisdom over a coffee or walking the dogs rather than lecture me or dictate.
Who is your favourite artist?
Monet and his waterlillies have been favourites for as long as I can remember, along with Edgar Degas and his ballerinas, which I studied for A-Level art, and John William Waterhouse whose paintings of Shakespeare’s Ophelia and nymphs often feature flowers and nature.
Where do you like to work best – is it at a desk, in an office or in a coffee shop? And would you send us a picture of where the magic happens?
I used to daydream when I worked 9-5 in an office that I could work from home with my dogs by my side, no office politics or stupid office rules about when you could go for lunch or where you could eat. Oh how wonderful it would be to be my own boss, work from a favourite coffee shop from time to time if I wanted, or sit at the beach I thought…
Fast forward 4 years and I am delighted to say that dream came true and I live it daily. I’m soon going to be buying my own house and am currently daydreaming about my home office I’ll have with a big sofa, rugged wooden floors and big windows where I can stick up my ideas and plans on the walls and my dogs will be lying in their beds by my feet after a morning walk on the beach.
And finally, where can this caffeine-fuelled audience find you?
LinkedIn (Chloe Hall – Bumble and Bloom Media)