Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Senses of the Season Writers Challenge

by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

Ah, the scents of the season. 

One of my favorite childhood memories is of waking up to the fragrance of turkey roasting in the oven on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I love the spiciness of cut pine, the yeasty aroma of homemade bread, and even the whiff of cardboard and paper from a freshly opened tube of wrapping paper.

But this year . . . I can’t smell anything. 

Thanks to a recent run-in with Covid, I’ve lost my sense of smell. And let me tell you, I miss it! While it is frustrating, I have to admit that it’s given me an entirely new appreciation for the importance of using scents in my stories.

As a writer, I’m always looking for a unique way to portray what my characters are experiencing. And while I know I’m supposed to use all five senses, I have to admit that the sense of smell is usually the last one I reach for when I’m digging deep to find a new way to describe a room or an event or a fight scene. 

So this December, I want to encourage you to join me in a challenge. We’re going to practice describing with our senses. All of them. 

The holidays are frequently a challenging time to be a writer. The hustle and bustle of the season can make it difficult to find time to devote to the craft. And while this December certainly won’t look like Christmases past, that doesn’t mean it will be any easier. We won’t have as many places to be, as many parties to attend, or as many festivities to enjoy, but we will have different and unusual stressors to contend with. Things like masks and quarantines and worry. And disappointment over the loss of traditional events and time spent with family and friends. 

While all the unique frustrations of the season can make creating difficult, this is also a beautiful opportunity to flex your writing muscles and try something new. It doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. In fact, it should be challenging, but fun!

So here it is: My December Senses of the Season challenge. 

You can start now. You can do them all at once. Or spread them out through the month (that’s my plan). There are no rules here. 

Some of these lend themselves easily to specific senses but not others. Be creative! Use all five senses and list every way you can think of to describe these Christmas delights.

Day 1: A Christmas tree

Day 2: A Christmas light display

Day 3: A Christmas meal

Day 4: A Christmas movie

Day 5: A Christmas carol

Day 6: A Christmas tradition

Day 7: A Christmas recipe

Day 8: A Christmas card/photo

Day 9: A Christmas outfit (party or pjs or anything in between)

Day 10: A Christmas activity you’re missing this year 

Day 11: A Christmas present

Day 12: The Christ

Grace and peace, and a very Merry Christmas to all of you!


Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Lynn’s titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Her newest series kicks off in March 2021 with Unknown Threat, Book 1 in the Defend and Protect series. 

She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught Scrivener to writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at LYNNHBLACKBURN.COM and @LynnHBlackburn on BOOKBUB, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM.


  1. The sense of smell is one I use a lot, but not as much as I could. I appreciate the reminder, because there are more ways. I think back to my Chapel Springs series, where my main character is a potter. I don't think I ever mentioned the smell of wet clay.

  2. I love this idea, Lynn! In fact I’m printing your top picture, going to cut the ideas into strips and pull one a day at dinner to brainstorm with my family. Should make for some fun discussion and memories. Thanks! :)

  3. What a challenge. I use many things to 'show' rather than tell, now this is a challenge to help in that endeavor. One comment several readers have made on my published book is 'the scenes are so real, and the food descriptions make me hungry...'. LOL and it's a detective novel, I don't know. But this should enrich my next story. Donevy

  4. Great idea, Edie! I'm going to use it for some daily prompts on social media.

  5. Just what I was looking for: a Christmas prompt!