Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 15: Scenting Creativity

One thing computers don't enhance or distract from is the way we incorporate scents and our sense of smell into our writing. The best part of these sensory "gifts" is that the smell of cookies baking can mean vastly different things depending on the character, plot and scene.

But this post has more to do with how scents work on us to aid in creativity, and how they influence our beliefs. An article by Sally Augustin, Ph.D. on the Psychology Today website (at points out how any of the following scents can be perceived differently depending on life experiences. However, more common reactions to familiar scents include:

  1. Orange, lavender and cedar are calming influences. (For anyone who has asthma or allergies to any of these scents, don't test this.)
  2. Vanilla also helps calm even others, with vanilla-scented perfumes (used lightly) sometimes effective in job interviews, according to Augustin.
  3. Specifically for the writing process: Lemon and jasmine scents aid cognitive work. Augustin suggested sucking on lemon drops during tests.

If you can, and do, try any of these scents, try working them into your writing. One way to see it from the other side is to write a character reacting to the orange scent with terror due to putting thousands of cloves into oranges in his or her youth.

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