Setting the mood (with intention) (Archived)

There’s a theory that the way our external world looks is a reflection of the state of our internal world. When I’m tearing about the house hunting for my phone or doing a frantic chicken-scratch through the clutter that somehow manifests on every flat surface seconds after I’ve tidied the house, I’m inclined to agree. I despise housework but I love the way the house feels after I’ve tidied it. My energy feels calm, focused and grounded.

Although the rest of my house devolves into untidiness at regular intervals, I go out of my way to keep my creative space tidy, organised and ascetically pleasing. I’m lucky enough to have space in my house for a dedicated creative area. The walls are papered with visual maps of my strategies and goals. The shelves are crowded with resource books that teach, inspire and evoke.

It may come as a surprise that one of the most useful tools in my creative space are scented candles. I don’t need to light these. Opening the glass lid lets out a flood of scent. Scent is such a powerful, emotive sense.

For writing exercises or splashing about in a theme I choose the light, playful flirtiness of frangipani. For editing and plot-plotting I prefer the deeper, more robust scent of rose. There’s a strong, solid ribbon of beauty through the scent of rose that pulls me forward in a constructive way. If I’m tired and my mind is moosh I reach for something sharp and clear, like peppermint or menthol or a delicate curl of citrus. If I am submitting work, I require something deeper and earthier for courage.

Scented candles allow me to set the mood as I sit down to write with purpose and intention. Over time, my mind and body associates that scent with that particular flavour of energy and I slip quickly and effortlessly into that condition. Rose soothes and eases the rough edges of my mind and grounds me for editing and structural work. I feel the focus of my mind sharpen at the first sting of a minty scent. Frangipani inspires me to be a little bit silly, permissioning me to colour outside the lines.

Good quality candles are expensive, but you would be surprised how long they last if you don’t burn them. These candles are an investment in my craft, a treat for my mind and spirit (healthier then munching through a box of chocolates as I work!). I prefer candles in glass jars so I can cork them and silo the scents. A section of my bookshelf is devoted to my candle companions. I swap them onto my desk regularly. When their scent fades or I desire a new scent adventure I retire them out of the office.

What does the state of your creative space say about you? How do you honour yourself and your creative energy?

(Posted 5 Dec 2019. Follow me at:

Nicole writes short stories and novel length speculative fiction and a weekly blog or