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The spark: creative fuel that’s feeding our fire during lockdown

Valerie Denny
10th February 2021

Here’s what we’re reading, watching, streaming, plus the new rituals and hobbies we’ve picked up to keep us inspired during the latest round of stay-at-home orders.

  • In a creative industry, it’s essential to find new sources of inspiration to keep your work fresh and relevant

  • Working from home has definite perks, but spending 24/7 in our homes can leave us feeling stir-crazy and lacklustre if we don’t proactively seek creative stimulation

  • Here are the books, podcasts, shows, TikTok accounts and obscure new hobbies we’ve picked up to invigorate us during the gray days of February

Working in a creative industry, it’s essential to have a constant flow of cultural inspiration and stimulation. Pre-Covid times, you could get your daily fill just from the Tube commute into the office alone - podcasts, people-watching, a clever advert, flipping through Time Out magazine earmarking all the concerts, festivals, exhibitions you might want to check out that week.

And while working from home definitely has some perks (mainly with the new office dress code lowered to all loungewear all the time), finding inspiration while staring at the same four walls every day is a bit more of a challenge.

That’s why when you do find that podcast or book, ritual or hobby that gives you a bit of a boost, you feel like it’s your duty to share it with the rest of the world.

Without further ado, here’s what’s giving us life during lockdown.

What we're listening to

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Credit: Penguin Publishing and Audible

"I've been listening to Obama's "A Promised Land" on Audible as I do my daily jaunt around Wimbledon. Not only is Obama a very evocative writer, but I feel like I'm getting a crash course in government, politics and a pep talk by my dad at the same time. It makes the drizzly, miserable weather slightly sunnier to hear his dulcet tones and measured, reassuring manner come through my headphones. Plus whatever issues I have that day pale in comparison to getting a bill through congress."

Val Denny, Managing Editor

I’ve listened to a range of podcasts from Holly Tucker, MBE called SME:SOS to get my creative juices flowing and the Tough Girl Podcast to inspire some extra-ordinary sporting endeavours when Lockdown lifts.” - Emma Potter, Marketing Manager

“I have started listening to Atomic Habits and I am really inspired and motivated.” - Chanda Gohrani, Growth Marketing Manager

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Credit: Q Code Media

“I'm listening to Q Code Media: From Now podcast - it's an audio drama about an astronaut that goes into space, disappears and then returns to earth out of the blue 35 years later, while only minutes have past for him.” - Suzanne Scott, Managing Editor

What we're reading

“A strong recommendation for this: The Art of Fairness: The Power of Decency in a World Turned Mean. Not a big fan of leadership/ management books, but this is fascinating. Lots of uplifting instances of people doing it right, but special mention has to go how close Trump's tactics followed the Goebbels playbook from Germany in the 30's. We got lucky that when it came down to it, Orange Don didn't have the guts to lead from the front....”

Alan Grove, Creative Director

“For down time, a new book that has crept onto my bookshelf is The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet. I loved Pooh as a kid so looking forward to reading this as a grown-up kid.”- Emma Potter, Marketing Manager

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Credit: Hachette

“I've found that since lockdown, I really can't read or watch anything too serious. I'm only in the market for comedy, fantasy and sci-fi—anything that feels a world away from real life right now. I've just finished Lore by Alexandra Bracken, it's YA (a category I no longer fit into, but it's good escapism) which takes ancient Greek mythology and dumps it in modern day New York in a Hunger Games-style battle to the death called the Aegon. I'm also making a concerted effort to get into poetry so I'm reading Margaret Atwood's Dearly. For non-fiction, I'm reading Dr Tara Swart: The Source. Dr Swart is a neuroscientist and her book is about understanding how our brain and thoughts impact our lives.” - Suzanne Scott, Managing Editor

What we're watching

“Funnily enough, I have kept myself entertained watching The Office from the start. A necessary no brainer that makes me laugh to tears no matter how many times I have watched an episode. And, why not, might lessen my nostalgia for the days in the office.”- Vic Rojas, Growth Marketing Strategist

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“There is a Tiktok account called ‘what_about_bunny’ This woman has taught her dog Bunny how to communicate via buttons that she presses with her paw. I am obsessed!!! I’m learning so much about how animals learn vocab and theory of mind and humour. She’s on Instagram too if you don’t have Tiktok.

Bunny and her mom made my entire year last year, I literally watched her grow up so much last year. She has now gotten to the stage of asking who that dog was in the mirror and freaking out when she finds out it's her. LOL.”

Fatmatta Sesay, Content Strategist

“If it remotely resembles real life, I'm not watching it. Currently re-watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Actually quite enjoyable to watch as an adult. I'm watching The Expanse - which is an epic sci-fi drama set in our solar system. I also have Schitt’s Creek on repeat these days - it soothes my soul.

Emma Braham and I have been buying tickets to live streaming music events. Last week we tuned in to the Cinematic Orchestra streaming from the Royal Festival Hall. Next weekend we'll be watching RY X perform from a cathedral in LA. We were meant to see him live last year, but COVID intervened, so this is as close as we can get.” - Suzanne Scott, Managing Editor

Daily rituals we've started

“Game changers I have found effective to boost my creativity and should have helped me stay away from burnouts: Taking a mandatory screen and lunch break midday—even on the busiest days and if that means finishing later. And starting and closing the day with a walk/run in the park with my husband or alone listening to a podcast recommended by our More Than Words newsletter (email us at hello@mediablaze.com if you’d like to sign up) if not checking on my friends and family on the phone.”

Vic Rojas, Growth Marketing Strategist

“I feel pretty lucky that I have some leafy green outdoor space near me, so I’ve had lots of ‘walks and talks’ on Wimbledon Common, these have now turned into a daily ritual before work and at the weekend, it’s a great way to start my day.” - Emma Potter, Marketing Manager

“During lockdown I started running every day. Like literally every day. I used Strava to keep myself honest so there was a bit of accountability. Forcing myself out has meant I'm ensuring I'm staying active and getting fresh air and sitting around all day, it's essential.” - Roger Barr, Co-founder and Chief Digital Officer

"Lockdown has been a strange one for me as I've actually moved home. It's enabled me to go for longer walks in the countryside that I otherwise would have and it's kept me preoccupied with making the place a home for my wife and me. I actually find myself talking to my family more than I otherwise would, via video calls. Playing cards with the wife has also been a good distraction and I've reignited my love for radio! Makes a change for doing screen-based activities all the time." - James Clifton, Lead Product Designer

New hobbies we've picked up

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Caption: Stephen’s work in progress

“I have taken up amateur electronics and have been rebuilding an old electric guitar. It's really relaxing to focus on something purely practical and learn a new skill.” - Stephen Hobbs, Strategy and Planning Director

“I’ve started to knit. At Christmas I treated a few uni girlfriends to a gift from Stitch and Story so we’re now all knitting different colour headbands - it’s beautiful to get creative again and to share that experience together.”

Emma Potter, Marketing Manager

“Continuing my avoidance of all things 'real life', my mission this week is to assemble my telescope so I can make the most of stargazing before the evenings get too light.

I'm also attempting to master the skill of pie baking. My first attempt at the weekend was close to a disaster, but I have hopes of dropping off beautiful pies to my best mates and family members that I haven't been able to see in ages.” - Suzanne Scott, Managing Editor

Talk to the content marketing specialists

Looking to inject a little more creative juice into your marketing strategy or just want to reserve one of Suzanne’s freshly baked pies or send Stephen your guitar to mend? Shoot us an email at hello@mediablaze.com

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