6 Scents to Stimulate Your Writing Process

Writing is a way to tap into all of our senses. From rich visual imagery to stunning sound, poetry indulges writers in every sensation. Enhancing this experience by lighting your favorite candle or spritzing your preferred essential oil can benefit your writing, too. Research has found that scent is deeply tied to memory and emotion, two qualities that make for compelling poetry. These six scents in particular can boost important, writerly qualities like creativity, concentration, and more.


For alertness and concentration: Peppermint


Do you usually end up getting distracted during your writing time? Peppermint might be the perfect solution. This scent activates the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for mental clarity. Some studies have also found that the smell of peppermint increases oxygen flow to the brain. In fact, peppermint has been recommended to both test-takers and student-athletes due to these findings. 


For creativity and playfulness: Tangerine


Tangerine is thought to increase beta wave activity in the brain, which boosts imagination. If you’re wanting to engage with the playfulness of poetry and try out new techniques, this might be the scent for you!


For energy: Lemon


Named one of the best scents to wake up to, lemon—like other citrus smells—is among the most activating pick-me-ups. If you start to feel groggy in the middle of your writing practice, let lemon be the antidote.


For happiness and hope: Jasmine


Jasmine has a profound effect on the central nervous system. In a scientific study comparing 23 different scents, it was the most likely to spur a more positive mood among participants. Since writers may be more prone to anxiety and depression than the general population, this uplifting odor can help poets experience joy—and write about it.


For productivity and perseverance: Cinnamon


According to Harvard University’s health blog, cinnamon ranks among the most healthy scents and flavors for your mind. Sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee for a wafting smell proven to increase your attention span. If you want to power through the revision process or organize a poetry collection, cinnamon can keep you motivated and on task. 


For stress management: Rosemary


We all know writing can be stressful, but it shouldn’t be. To let go of anxiety and reconnect with a relaxing, free-flowing writing practice, turn to rosemary. A 2020 study on rosemary’s therapeutic effects showed a connection between exposure to the scent and reduced anxiety levels. 

Wanting more scent inspiration? Check out our round-up of literary candle brands.