Aromatherapy Cures for Author Problems

What's That Smell?

5/9/2016

The life of an author isn't always a stable one. You soar high one day after a particularly satisfying writing session or reader review, then crash the next day for any number of reasons. If writers are known for having fragile egos, well, perhaps it's only because we’ve learned to feel deeply.

That doesn't mean you have to be doomed to experience extreme peaks and lows forever, though. You can bypass the awful crashes and mental fogs by managing your moods. Essential oils have been around for years, and they can be an holistic and alternative way to feel better and get writing.

Before we get any further, I want you to remember this: Essential oils are powerful, and can potentially be dangerous. Seek out a professional aromatherapist or an energy healer for advice, or cautiously surf Pinterest for essential oil recipes and blends. A little research goes a long way.

One of the best ways to use essential oils is through diffusing it. While there are plenty of diffusers on the market, you can also make DIY clay diffuser necklaces (or skip the hole-making and just set the pendant next to your writing space). I suggest the DIY clay route—add in the consumption of a glass of wine or your favorite adult beverage, and it's a great creative exercise (even if it's not exactly writing).

Here are some common author experiences and the essential oils that can ease you through them. You're usually attracted to the essential oils you need most, so go by your nose and author gut to tell you which oil or blend of oils is right for you.

The Blank Page Black Hole

blank paper and macbook

When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you. No matter how excited you are to begin a new book or send your words out into the world as a blog post, the endless white space and blinking cursor can actually suck your energy, leaving you feeling restless and anxious.

Here's a sampling of essential oils that you can use to combat the blank page:

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary sage
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Wild orange

My personal favorite is clary sage and orange, though not necessarily together. And you might find that your preferences change over time. When I first smelled clary sage, it reminded me of paint thinner. It doesn't anymore.

The "How Long Have I Been Sitting at the Computer?" Pain

grimace

If you don't know already, let me make you aware—sitting too long, especially at your computer, is bad for your health. It can lead to headaches (or worse, migraines), eye strain, and repetitive motion injuries. While essential oils are no substitute for regular breaks, stretching, and proper posture, they can take away the pain after a particularly long writing (or editing) session.

For pain relief, try one or more of the following oils:

  • German chamomile
  • Marjoram
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender

Many of my headaches result from tight muscles in my neck and shoulders, and nothing chases my pain away better than a mix of peppermint and lavender oils, followed by a hot compress.

The Book Launch Freakout

freak out

Listen. You think each stage of publishing a book is the worst until you reach the defining moment of actually publishing. Activities that can cause this freakout include scrambling to find the correct files to upload, agonizing over the correct categories for your book, fighting your anxiety over clicking the "Publish" button, and realizing your book can now be read by anyone and everyone. (Like your mother-in-law. Hope your book isn't too racy for her eyes. . . .)

Take a deep breath and try one or more of these oils:

  • Chamomile
  • Citrus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Ylang-ylang

When I need to de-stress, lavender is always my go-to essential oil. It cures many ailments. But ylang-ylang, geranium, and citrus are great, too.

Too Tired to Write

cat yawn

Coffee is great—like, really great—but it can’t, unfortunately, solve all your too-tired-to-write woes. Sometimes being too tired to write isn’t about being physically tired, but living in a mental fog from an exhausting life outside of writing. While you could veg in front of Netflix for the fourth night in a row, why not chase away the fog with essential oils and finally get writing?

  • Basil
  • Cedarwood
  • Cinnamon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ginger
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Rosemary

My preference? Citrus oils help boost my mood, so lemon and orange is where it's at. Eucalyptus is another favorite—it can also help you breathe better if you're suffering from allergies or a cold.

The Black Moment

birds in flight

There comes a time in every author's career where giving up sounds like the better option. Maybe you're struggling with a particularly difficult manuscript or your sales have tanked or the reviews rolling in are less than flattering.

Whatever makes you want to say goodbye to writing forever will sink its claws into you and suddenly, lying in bed eating brownies and binge-watching Teen Mom becomes a more appetizing option than facing your writing. Don't give into the urge, no matter how delicious those brownies are.

  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile (German or Roman)
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang-ylang

Depression is no joke—if essential oils and other tactics don't help, please go see someone who can. Your novel (probably) doesn't end on your character’s black moment, and your writing career shouldn't, either.

Revision- and Editing-Induced Loss of Hope

man with head in his hands

Is it the end of the world, or did you just get your manuscript ripped apart by your editors or betas? The amount of work ahead of you stretches, making you wonder if you're ever going to get this book published or if you should put your pajamas back on and sleep for a week.

Rather than sleep for the next seven days, get yourself back on track:

  • Bergamot
  • Citrus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary
  • Wild orange

You know how bergamot keeps showing up on all these lists? I think I need to get me some.

Writing Your—Wait, Is That a Cat Meme?

grumpy cat had fun once it was awful

Sometimes, even when you can corral yourself to your writing space and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards), the shiny Internet calls to you—as does that interesting conversation on Facebook, the meal you have to make tonight, and the trip you're taking in five months.

If you just can't get those distractions out of your writing life, you might need additional help. You don't need your significant other hovering over your shoulder and smacking your hands every time you stray into distraction land, either. The focusing power of essential oils will be far more pleasant for both of you.

  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Blue cypress
  • Cedarwood
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint

Which essential oils do you prefer to use? Drop us a comment and share your favorites.

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Amanda Shofner

Amanda Shofner satisfies her desire for adventure with the written word and helps others do the same. Currently writing romantic suspense.

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