Behind the Scenes Sunday

Writing Rituals – Scents of Stories

Let’s take a peek at the cogs inside the machine and talk about why I write and how I write on Behind the Scenes Sunday! Today I’d like to talk about one of my writing rituals that I adopted during the pandemic and one that I still return to regularly, especially when I’m in a difficult spot in a project or just when I feel like treating myself: lighting candles while writing.

Scent is one of the strongest triggers of memory — we smell cookies baking and we’re transported not just to a particular moment in our past, but we can feel the way we felt at that exact instant. It creates a cascading effect with all the other senses: taste, touch, hearing, and sight. So it makes sense (pardon the pun) to try and harness this mental power for use when writing.

I pick out a particular candle for every project I’m working on. It has to be a pleasing scent, but more than that it has to resonant with the story I’m writing in some way. For example, when I’m writing fanfiction for my sister, I light a sweet tea scented candle — because sweet tea makes me think of warm summers, laughter, and just plain fun. It helps my imagination run wild and keeps me focused on the why of why I’m writing: to make my sister smile.

Before I sit down to write, I dim the lights in my house, light the candle and let it burn for a good five or ten minutes to let the scent begin to fill the space in which I’m working. This works for me in two ways: one, I love working by candle light. I feel like an old-fashioned author working late into the night; it just feels cool. And two, the scent keeps me focused, helps my flow, and is extremely pleasing.

If you had to pick a scent to work with while writing your current WIP, what would it be? Does this ritual appeal to you? Or does it totally turn you off? Do you have rituals of your own? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!

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Published by rsjeffrey

Robin Jeffrey was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming to a psychologist and a librarian, giving her a love of literature and a consuming interest in the inner workings of people’s minds.

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