Issue #2 Stephanie Boyle dreams of analogue alarm clocks

Welcome to RIP: a tribute to every great idea the world never gets to see

One of the reasons I started Rest In Progress was to explore the fragile nature of ideas. And after six months in lockdown living alone, I find I’m not only drastically romanticising human contact (I fully imprinted on a nurse while giving blood this week – the intimacy of someone piercing a vein is unrivalled), but as the months roll by, I find my creative thoughts are more delicate than ever.

Back in spring, I was all making lists and taking courses and getting shit done. I updated my portfolio, I started a newsletter, hell, I wrote two courses on copywriting (I know, I despise past-Robyn too). But come September, that drive has wavered and I find myself doubting my ideas more than ever.

I’ll distract myself from this discomfort by maybe wandering to the kitchen for a spoonful (table) of peanut butter (crunchy), or sitting down to do the 1000 piece Christmas jigsaw that’s being seeing me through These Times™ for the 476th time. When what I really need is other people. People to tell my dumb ideas to, people to bounce them against a wall with, people to make them bigger, better, more full of stuff.

When it comes to the whole freelance vs in-house vs new remote thing, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our working environment makes a difference when it comes to making great ideas happen.

So this month I’m talking personal projects and unpublished gems with Stephanie Boyle, a freelance copywriter, content writer and content strategist based in Glasgow.

Tell me about your RIP and what happened (or better yet, didn’t happen) to it?

The company I was working for at the time wanted to create another product and I was asked to come up with as many fun ideas as I could (hello dream brief). 

My favourite was the alarm clock brand. 

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us want to spend less time on our phones, but they somehow creep into every aspect of our lives. One of the first household items that mobiles replaced (alongside a phone, of course) was the humble alarm clock. Despite our attempts to detach ourselves from our screens, we need our phones within arm’s reach to wake us up in the morning and so they're with us, even when we sleep. 

I wanted to bring back the analogue alarm clock, to banish our phones from the bedroom and save our eyeballs from midnight scrolling. 

It got as far as some research and a mood board, as the company decided against starting any new brands at all. Le sigh.

What is it about this idea you love or can’t let go of?

The positioning. You can pick up a boring old alarm clock from anywhere, but when presented as a solution for screen time, there’s so much more to talk about. 

  1. Blue wave light from screens can delay the release of melatonin (our sleepy hormone), increase alertness and reset the body’s internal clock, which plays havoc with our sleeping patterns. Source: The Sleep Council

  2. Ironically, this means analogue alarm clocks can actually help you to sleep better. 

  1. Our phones are sources of entertainment and when your phone’s right there, it’s tempting to reach over the book you’ve been dying to read in favour of scrolling on Pinterest for hours. 

  2. A study showed that phones in bed are causing people to have less sex and intimacy with their partner. I think studies are often bullshit because you can find one to back up any point you want to make, but this seems like it could actually be true. 

  3. Dropping my phone on my face certainly makes me feel less relaxed, regardless of how much eucalyptus I spray on my pillow. 

I also spent a chunk of time daydreaming about the product: A classic analogue face with no ticking, a less abrasive wake-up call and a rechargeable battery with back-up batteries just in case you forgot to top it up. There were content ideas, artists we could collaborate with, designs we could try — the lot. 

I LOVED the remixed nursery rhymes you created for International Women’s Day this year. As a freelancer, how important is it for your creativity to work on personal projects like this?

When I left agency life and went freelance, I quickly realised that learning wouldn’t come as organically as it did when I was working in a room full of brilliant creatives every day. 

So, personal projects became my unofficial self-development plan. Recently, I taught myself the basics of Photoshop and design so I could finally take some of the ideas on my list and make them a reality without relying on a designer. That was always a huge barrier for me and something that, I think, stops a lot of writers from getting their ideas out there. 

In the case of the nursery rhymes project, I originally sent it to the marketing director at Time’s Up but got ghosted, so thought ‘fuck it, I’ll make it myself.’ I commissioned my friend Annabel to do the illustrations and I did all the copy and design. It might’ve still been in my Google Drive if I hadn’t put that time aside to learn something new.


Three things that have made lockdown more bearable…

  • Moving our furniture every Friday at 5pm to create our ‘weekend living room’.

  • Non-underwire bras.

  • Seeing the cygnets at my local park grow into awkward teenage swans.

Where do you get your best ideas?

Having conversations with people, which is great if you’re having a conversation about ideas, but very annoying if you’re trying to have a conversation about anything else. 

What TV series/book/podcast are you binging right now?

At least five people have told me that I need to watch The Marvelous Mrs Maisel because the costumes are to die for. I’m going to watch episode 1 tonight and will likely be here for a while.

Psst, before you go – here’s a list of things I’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks: