Have you noticed that creative types are always tweeting, posting, blogging about their musical inspirations? Almost every writer I follow has posted something about a song that has helped them write. I know that I have turned to music plenty of times to help create a mood or set a scene, but we are equipped with four other senses that can help us.
For me to make my case for another one of our other senses I need to introduce a friend of mine. Say ‘hi’ to Roni.
A couple weeks ago Roni came up to me at rehearsal and asked if I smelled a crayon lately. I have to admit the question gave me pause. I smell a lot of things throughout the day, not all of them good, and I can’t say that I actually stop and smelled crayons. I mean, I have two young children so I have bits and pieces of them all over my house, but have I stopped and actually smelled them? No. Stepped on them, picked them out of the garbage and wiped remnants of an eaten crayon off of my child’s face? Yes. I’ve done those.
Then I remembered my sister-in-law, who is a high school teacher, tell me about how kids are now smelling bath salts to get high. (Seriously, kids? Bath salts?) I started to worry that sweet little Roni was involved in something criminal…with crayons no less!
Roni must have noticed my face was a combination of horror and concern because she quickly explained her question.
A facilitator from the Disney Institute stopped by Roni’s college campus to hold a workshop about “Inspiring Creativity”. The teacher asked the class who there would be able to draw a picture of themselves if she handed out crayons. No one thought they could. She then told the class that if she asked a bunch of first graders the same question every hand would most likely go up.
Because kids aren’t locked into thinking through the logistics of things. They don’t think about art lessons, depth perception and getting everything perfect. Creativity flows through their little bodies with no limitations. The Disney rep suggested that as adults we often get stuck inside the walls of our own mind. We don’t allow ourselves to think outside the box any more. When that happens we need to stop and smell some crayons in order to get back to a childlike approach to creativity.
And here I thought she was pushing drugs with colored wax.
In all seriousness though (stop laughing) our sense of smell can help us out just as often as music can. Just like songs, pleasant smells, and ok, not so pleasant smells, can remind us of time gone by and maybe help spur some inspiration.
With Spring’s arrival the moist aroma of dirt and flowers fill the air while freshly cut grass, honeysuckle and sun tan lotion waft on summer breezes. Cinnamon spice and apple cider can remind you of going to the pumpkin patch to pick the biggest pumpkin and I swear there is a fresh, light, crisp scent in the air that always tells me when snow is on the way in the winter.
Yes, I do believe we don’t give enough credit to our noses when it comes time to creating. So, next time you’ve hit a brick wall with your writing take some time to take a walk outside. Let the sights and smells open your mind and inspire you. If that doesn’t work I have some crayons you can snort, er, sniff.
Have you ever experienced a smell that takes you back to a favorite time in your past? Have you ever been inspired by a certain smell or even a taste? Have any of your other senses inspired a scene or story? And…do you smell that? Anyone want to change a diaper? That’s one smell I won’t mind never smelling again. Ick.