Scent – the pathway to the subconscious

Those who study the brain have long said that scent is a powerful memory trigger. One whiff of snickerdoodle cookies baking, and we’re five years old, back at Grandma’s kitchen table.

I believe scent is also a strong creativity trigger. The right aroma can put us in a thunderstorm, a rainforest, a field of wildflowers or between linen sheets. I know a lot of people carefully create a new music playlist before the start a book, selecting tunes that create the proper mood and tone for the work. I have been known to do that, but honestly, I spend more time selecting the perfect scents.

Let me stop a moment to interject that I am NOT a salesperson for the product I’m about to endorse. I am, however, a big customer.

I use the Scentsy warmers to create scent in my workspace–you know, those little pots that warm scented wax with a low-wattage light bulb. It’s part of my writing ritual to pick out just the right scented wax, and to turn on the warmers before I sit down to create. Right now I’m working on a book set in a fictional south American country. I found the most delicious rainforest scent. It’s heavy, and green and moist, if you could attribue those adjectives to an odor. As soon as the wax warms, the jungle surrounds me, grounds me in my story.

I’ve used homey scents like apple pie for those hearth-and-home scents, linen and cotton for love scenes, peppermint when I worked on a sub-plot with a bright, active child character. The possibilities may not be quite endless, but they number in the hundreds, if not thousands. New scents are introduce each month, and I love to peruse the catalogue.

As for the more practical aspects, Scentsy warmers are less likely to start a fire in the home and more eco-friendly than candles. And as someone with a houseful of dogs and cats, they’re a necessity even on my non-writing days. I have one for the living room, one for the kitchen/dining area and one in my bedroom.

Here is my living room Scentsy (I live on a ranch in Texas, remember):

So if you’re having trouble finding the flow in you current work-in-progress, consider using scent to put your head in the “write” space.

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2 Responses to “Scent – the pathway to the subconscious”


  1. 1 betsyboop July 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I’m not sure if burning my peppermint candle is helping me write this scene yet but at least my bedroom smells inviting!

  2. 2 vickietaylor July 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    LOL, see? Scent is a win-win situation. If it helps with the writing, that’s great. If not, at least the house smells nice!


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