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Create a journal to increase sensory awareness

Sensory images are glue that grabs readers and draws them into your story world.

If you want to improve your ability to write sensuously, become more conscious of senses by creating a sensory journal. Supercharge your attention on what’s going on around you as you go through your days, and you’ll likely become more aware. To boost that experience, commit to focus on a specific sense. Start today by creating a scent diary.

As you leave your house for work, take children to school, or do errands, notice how the air smells when you walk out the door. Does it smell like rain? The paper mill across the river? Pine trees? I still remember the smell of chocolate when I walked out of my hotel on a trip to Chicago. I found out that it emanated from the Blommer chocolate factory.

In college, my dormitory was next to a bakery. Every morning, I’d wake up to the smell of baking bread. Notice the smell of your school or workplace: the smell of chalk dust, whiteboard markers, food cooking in the lunchroom or cafeteria, coffee brewing, someone’s bacon breakfast sandwich from their takeout bag, a whiff of perfume.

Smells and other sensory feelings can trigger memories and place readers in scenes by helping them relate and feel more connected to a story.

Think about memories of places and times in your life, and then recall scents you associate with those times.

Read this list and note what you recall about places, people, and events:
wood smoke
cigarette smoke

Think of these places and recall the smells:
nursing home
antique store


Photo courtesy of Veronica Sheppard under creative commons:
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Neat idea. I have noticed how much easier it is to take note of visual cues since I’ve had a cell phone — and camera — with me all the time in the last five or six years. It’s like an automatic visual journal.

    I never really thought about doing the same for the other senses, but I might give it a try.

    — Adam

    January 3, 2016
    • Thanks Adam. I like your idea of collecting visual cues. Photographs can be powerful writing prompts! Stay tuned for more journaling posts coming up on the blog.

      January 3, 2016
  2. A wonderful idea. Your lists certainly inspire many memories and senses!

    February 1, 2016

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