Thursday, May 12, 2016

How sensory stimulation helps me write: Sense of Smell

As a writer, you're expected to transport your readers to times and places they've never been to before--to feel the sun shining on their faces, to smell the earth they walk upon, to hear the sounds of nature rustling around them, and to give characters thoughts and emotions readers can empathize with. That's what keeps readers engaged, right?

For me, getting into the minds of my characters isn't always easy. In fact, sometimes I have such a difficult time that I find a hundred other things to do with myself when I should be writing.

To help myself stay in tip-top writing shape, I've come to learn that engaging as many of my senses as possible--connecting me to my mission--helps me focus more than anything.

My newest approach: engaging my olfactory bulb. Sound strange? Well, it's quite astonishing, actually. Apparently, the olfactory bulb starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. It has direct connections to two brain areas of the brain that are strongly engaged with emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, visual, auditory, and tactile information synapsis do not pass through these brain areas. They say that this may be why smell, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering such vivid emotions and memories that evoke that feeling of “being brought back in time." Even more than images. Cool, right?

As an experiment this go-around, I'm using Mac's Lilac scent to help me keep the creative juices flowing...

Why Lilac?
Mac wears Lilac lotion, Sam even comments on it in her story, Whatever It Takes. Little does Mac realize, Lilac reminds her of her mother, hence her connection to it.

How do I use it? To keep my olfactory system engaged while I'm working on Mac's story, I light a lilac candle. Because it's not a scent I surround myself with often, it's interesting to have it permeate the room--it's great, actually. It's different and there's just something about the sound of a flickering candle that soothes me.

Fun Facts
Lilac is both edible and medicinal. Apparently it's historically used as a tea or for infusion as well as an anti-periodic. Anti-periodic basically means that it stops the recurrence of disease such as malaria. And it's also been associated with helping to break fevers.

What can you make with Lilacs?
For you Susie Homemakers and Homesteaders out there, here are some recipes in case you're interested!
Lilac Jelly
Lilac Wine
Lilac Liqueur/Cordial
Lilac Infused Blueberry Syrup
Lilac Ice Cream

Next time I'll share with you what other ways I indulge my sense while writing to keep myself in "the zone."


Twitter: @LindseyRPogue
Facebook: Author Lindsey Pogue
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