The Strange Boring Subject Challenge

christmas 2017 new home

I have a new idea for a feature, borne (once again) from the comments section, which is often where I’ll go to if I need some inspiration and motivation. The feature is a regular post where you choose the subject, however random, and I write about it. A few hundred words – let’s say 500. More or less.

It’s rather a silly idea, but that’s OK because it wasn’t mine; all of the credit for this one goes to the mysteriously named “E.”. He/she suggested “a kind of literary challenge where the readers select a strange boring subject to write about”, and this slightly outlandish concept really tickled my fancy. It could be quite a useful exercise for me – something to clear my mind when I’m trapped behind a thousand beauty reviews. Sort of like a sniff of the coffee beans when you’re smelling too many perfumes at once. (Good trick, that, if ever you’re in the – admittedly quite unlikely – situation where you’re being forced to differentiate between lots of fragrances. I mean, perhaps at Duty Free, but you’re probably not going to have a tin of coffee beans to hand then, are you? Unless you’re the woman from the Nescafé Gold Blend ad. Remember those adverts? The shaking of that coffee tin was the soundtrack to my childhood. That and the ditty from the Vidal Sassoon advert – “like you’ve just stepped out of the salon….SALON SELECTIVES!”)

What do you think about this Strange Boring Subject challenge? The logistics are perhaps a little tricky, because who will decide on the subject? How will you make your suggestions? I can’t even get it together to choose which socks to wear, let alone make an educated decision on an editorial matter. I need help. I’m typing this, by the way, on Mr AMR’s oversized iPad because I came to London and didn’t want to carry my MacBook Pro, which weighs the same as an adult bison. I don’t know why this iPad is so big, but it’s impossible to type on – the letters are about ten feet apart and I look like I’m playing a silent comedy piano.

So I’m going to stop now because it’s one of the most frustrating tasks I’ve ever started; I was going to write up a review on a luxury cleansing oil, hot on the heels of my budget cleansing oil review, but I can’t face the trauma of trying to copy and paste links or insert images, so you have this page of nonsense instead. Fancy more of the same? Let me know in the comments below. We can work out a voting system for choosing our silly subjects, I’m sure….

© 2018 A Model Recommends®: all opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. Please see here for full "about" section and disclaimer. A Model Recommends and Ruth Crilly are registered trademarks.

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39 Comments

  1. June 7, 2018 / 8:00 am

    Ahah this post was actually quite funny, love the idea!
    esterpiubeni.com

  2. Alicka
    June 7, 2018 / 8:20 am

    I love the idea! I read most of your post for the laughter anyway. I have not changed my skincare in 5-7 years and barely use any make up (the items I do use were your suggestions some years ago though)
    The suggestions and voting could be managed fairly easily on twitter and/or insta stories.

  3. Chloe Trainer
    June 7, 2018 / 9:00 am

    This whole post totally made my morning: “adult bison” “silent comedy piano” Ha!

    Such a good idea. I can’t wait for the first boring and random essay. If you sniff the back of your hand it resets your nostrils also – learned that on a sommelier course!

  4. June 7, 2018 / 9:52 am

    Admit it, you still sing that Salon Selectives hook, while swishing your hair around, every time you’ve had it ‘done’. Ahem, I mean, like I definitely don’t. Absolutely not.

  5. Elena Yeates
    June 7, 2018 / 9:53 am

    I think this is brilliant idea. Would love to read anything you write :)

  6. Lucy Skerritt
    June 7, 2018 / 10:32 am

    Maybe you could use a poll like inststories. Put up a photo on Instagram beforehand and say any random topic ideas, comment below. Pick 2 at random and then do a poll on insta stories?

  7. M
    June 7, 2018 / 10:36 am

    yes!!!
    please how often do we dust skirting boards if at all…
    why do we even have them, I don’t want them, all I want is a house without them

    also

    dog collar on the dog at all times or take it off them in the house for freedom

    • Laura
      June 8, 2018 / 11:03 am

      This comment made me laugh out loud, so much. Brilliant.

    • Chloe Trainer
      June 13, 2018 / 9:30 am

      I love letting my dog be naked!

  8. Sue
    June 7, 2018 / 11:03 am

    I love the idea! As a freelance journalist some of my assignments feel so challenging I wish I got to write about something completely random, do some lateral thinking, and join different dots; this could be a more fun version of the two-minute please at school.

  9. Beth
    June 7, 2018 / 11:45 am

    Please tell me about that desk!

    And, yes, if the boring suggestion challenge appeals to you, by all means do it! Maybe people can suggest things in random posts as they occur to them and you pick whichever one you want to write about? Like a book of writing prompts you flip through when the need arises.

    • Rachel
      June 10, 2018 / 9:57 pm

      I believe the ‘desk’ is a high chair!!

  10. Natasha
    June 7, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    Silent comedy piano…LOLOL. Would love a feature like that. (The one you wrote about, not the piano one. (Although feel free to make us a short movie on it)
    Personally, I read your blog for 40% what you write about (reviews and that) and 60% how you write it. I do think you could fit in 2 or 3 subjects in one post. Not on purpose, but just wandering totally off subject. As you do. And it will be awesome!

  11. Madalena
    June 7, 2018 / 12:23 pm

    YES! The sadistic in me loves this. Oh the horribly boring ideas I’ll come up with. I can hear them popping already. Once I had to write about a kitchen pot with diamonds (yes, such an item does exist). The time has come to return the favour. ;)

  12. Kimberly
    June 7, 2018 / 12:23 pm

    I love this idea because I think you write about such a wide range of topics and bring humor and grace to all of them! I would love to suggest random boring topics and get your 500 word take!

  13. Minty
    June 7, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    I think it has to be the case for a Jaffa cake being either a cake or a biscuit

    • Cepta
      June 8, 2018 / 10:11 pm

      How did they get the fig into the fig roll.

  14. June 7, 2018 / 1:54 pm

    Off topic, but my perfume store has tiny glasses filled with coffee beans fro exactly that reason.

  15. June 7, 2018 / 2:09 pm

    I actually think this is a genius idea! And I vote for your first subject – extension leads! I have no idea why but that’s the fun of the game isn’t it? And I bet you’ll make the writing absolutely brilliant, as usual! X

  16. M
    June 7, 2018 / 2:12 pm

    Hi Ruth,

    I’m here for any of your writing. You really should write a book.

    I haven’t any suggestions about the topic at hand, but wanted to reach out to you to thank you for the instagram post of you wearing that Hush dress in the moon/stars print. I bought it on the spot, and I’ve never, EVER, purchased something just based on an insta post. But it gripped me hard, that post. Anyhoo, it just arrived all the way over in the US (incredibly fast shipping!), and it’s divine!!! I’ve never been able to score a button down dress that didn’t a.) gape at my bust b.) make me look 30 pounds heavier and 3.) make me regret the silliness of thinking I could rock a drop waist since I’m an hour-shaped girl that ends up having to stick to skater styles which are boring at this point. The dress is perfect, just like you said, and I’ve even tried your recommendations on footwear to go with it to much success. The lightbulb went off, now I know why we need INFLUENCERS. Thank you!

  17. June 7, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    Have people post their grocery lists/meal plans. I tend to buy the same stuff every week and am sick to death of it–curious what other people do. I tend to try to eat seasonally, so lots of salads right now (it’s 100 degrees already here in Texas). We have twins who only eat about five things (none of which overlap) so that makes it super fun too.

  18. Jessica
    June 7, 2018 / 2:56 pm

    I think this sounds fun, and as I suspect most of us are here for your voice, to the point that it barely matters what the subject is about. I do have thoughts on logistics because that’s the kind of practical person I am, and I’d rather plan your life right now than do my own course planning! Here are some thoughts, if any are useful:

    First, since you’re on multiple platforms (YouTube, IG, blog, etc), I suspect it might make your life easiest to restrict the topic suggestions to just one platform (like say, an IG post that asks for people to comment on ideas or a blog post that asks people to comment). I’m thinking it could be an enormous pain to read comments from multiple platforms as opposed to scrolling through comments on just one post.

    Second, another commenter mentioned an IG Story poll, which I considered as well, until I wondered if that puts more labor on you because you’d have to come up with the boring topic suggestions yourself in order for people to vote. It seems like it might defeat the point of you selecting an idea at random (while simultaneously giving you more work to do)?

    Third, maybe you could pick a regular date that works for you–like say, post the request for suggestions on the first of every month so that you have time to insert the blog post into your schedule.

    Seems like a fun idea to me, but then, I’m an English teacher so I’m predisposed to love a writing prompt, haha!

  19. June 7, 2018 / 3:15 pm

    There used to be this website where they did Flash Fiction, called The Fiction 500. I submitted a piece about ten years ago. The one requirement was that it be 500 words. No more. No less. It really does make for a fun challenge because you have to pair down and craft the exact words to get your point across and make each one count. I reepat this exercise sometimes when I’m struggling with my writing to remind myself to use precise words.

  20. Sandie
    June 7, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    Hi Ruth. I love reading everything by you. So if its random / silly / sensible / a bit out there / quirky … will definitely be up for this new idea!

  21. Kelly Glen
    June 7, 2018 / 8:38 pm

    This is a brilliant idea and I am sure we can come up with some great ideas for you to write about.

  22. Anna
    June 7, 2018 / 10:31 pm

    I love this idea too. As many others have commented, I adore your writing style so a post on Nobbly Bobblys vs Fabs would have me hooked. I have no helpful suggestions on how to choose the subject but I would imagine that a topic that piques your interest would produce a more personally creative and satisfying result rather than polling for the most popular suggestion (can you tell I know crap all about how to create a successful online presence) but I think that your readers are big enough and mature enough not to take offence if you don’t produce a piece on every facile suggestion flung your way – cue my proposal! Working Title: ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ sung in the style of Jacks Cher impression from Will and Grace, anyone…anyone! My dad recently told me a story from his 20’s (mid 1970’s) which obviously still haunts him. He was on the London underground and realised he’d lost his ticket. Pacing up and down on the platform, panicking and wondering what to do, he noticed a woman with a pram struggling to get up the stairs so he offered to help. When they got to the top she thanked him profusely and he (still in panic mode) blurted out ‘You don’t have 50p do you?’ There was an awful pause and the woman said – in a deeply disillusioned voice “Oh, I see” and handed him the money. My dad was too embarrassed by this point to explain his predicament and left the woman with the impression that he had only offered to help in exchange for financial compensation which was absolutely not the case (my dad is one of the most generous souls your ever likely to me) Anyway, it set me to thinking that we all have these little moments that haunt us and it might be cathartic to put it out there and explain the full circumstance competency and fluently in the here and now. I dunno, the other idea was to ask you to talk about what your pets mean to you which sounds trite now I’ve put it in writing but I would also gobble that up like a lone mini Magnum in a freezer full of frozen peas x

    • Lucy
      June 8, 2018 / 3:37 am

      Oh, your poor dad! I hate moments like this, I am sure he still wants to hunt the woman down and clarify to this day, I would! My colleague the other day spoke to an older woman who said “hang on, I’ve got cramp getting out of the chair” to which my colleague responded ” it must be the cold”, the woman on the phone said “yes I am old” thinking my colleague had blamed the cramp on her age. She never got to explain what she actually said as the woman handed the phone to her husband which was why she was getting out of the chair in the first place.

  23. Anna
    June 7, 2018 / 10:44 pm

    Competently- is it possible to post here without a sp?? Haven’t managed it yet!

  24. SomeGirlMel
    June 8, 2018 / 3:29 am

    Love the idea!

  25. Lucy
    June 8, 2018 / 3:38 am

    In New Zealand at department stores that sell a lot of perfumes or at duty-free, there is often a small bowl of coffee beans for one to smell to cleanse the nose palette, so to speak, while testing perfumes. I felt so grown up when I finally learnt what they were there for.

  26. Cepta
    June 8, 2018 / 10:16 pm

    Love the idea. Some of your posts are hilarious. The carpet one and the one about the weather app spring to mind.

    Lights in the day time, on or off

  27. Louise
    June 9, 2018 / 8:46 am

    Hi
    I love this idea. Please can you write a piece on how not to wear man repeller clothes on first dates.
    I know this may seem a bit strange though recently when I have started to plan the horror of going out for first dates again, i have started to think, what would Ruth Crilly wear as I think you have great taste in clothes which is the complete opposite of man repeller clothes, I went to art school and I do have a slight weakness for man repeller clothes – think tartan tights, fake fur and platform brothel creapers – I would really enjoy your view on how not to wear man repeller clothes on a first date and early dates as I have a funny feeling that you may have this absolutely taped! Thank you and I really enjoy your writing and blog, really appreciate it.

  28. Beka
    June 9, 2018 / 10:41 pm

    Yessssss! Please do this challenge

  29. Heidi
    June 11, 2018 / 7:20 pm

    Hi, I’ve been lurking for a few years, but have never commented before. Thought I’d finally chime in to tell you I love this idea and look forward to reading your random ramblings on whatever.

    • June 11, 2018 / 7:55 pm

      Thanks Heidi! Just about to read everyone’s admin suggestions.. : )

  30. Jennifer
    June 12, 2018 / 6:46 am

    You have such a fun style of writing I think I would totally enjoy it. I like the idea of having ideas suggested on insta and then doing a poll there. But there are also voting tools for the blog… or you could also do an insta live about it *ggg*

  31. June 12, 2018 / 1:49 pm

    This is a brilliant idea! I love how you write and especially enjoy when you go off on a tangent. So I’m sure I’m going to enjoy this challenge. X

  32. Angie
    June 15, 2018 / 9:28 pm

    What a great idea! There is a (slightly) similar challange going on at the moment – for people who draw / paint: It is called “ICAD – Index card a day”. It is really a good way to get one out of the comfort zone.
    When it comes to choosing: Maybe you might want to consider using something like the platform Caroline Hirons uses for her giveaways. I think it’s called Rafflecopter, or something alike. You might be able to link to various social media platforms.

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