Saturday, 11 May 2013

Smells can inspire writing streams of consciousness

 I used the following prompts to encourage people in my class to write a stream of consciousness. 

  • a bottle of expensive aftershave
  • a bottle of lemon verbena essential oil
  • a bottle of geranium essential oil

The olfactory system is another world and topic. Our sense of smell guides us and is bound with memory and judgement.  Members of my writing group were asked to sniff and immediately begin to write their responses.

Writing followed quickly. Someone looked at the amount of words she had written with incredulity and another expressed the response 'it takes you to some weird places'.

Couldn't agree more.

Next time we're going to look at the results of this exercise and see what's in the writing. Is it for example a piece of work in its own right or is there a poem lurking there, waiting to be lifted out? Are there new ideas that might be the basis of a play or a novel or have people expressed something that made them feel better.

Is there a smell that takes you back to childhood or reminds you of an event?
What smell has unpleasant associations for you and why?

Have a look around and find two or three things with a distinct smell. Write your response in a stream of consciousness. Leave the piece of work for a couple of days and then go back to it to see if it works  or if you could see a poem in there or the makings of a story.

Can you see how someone's response to a smell could help a writer create a story?