The smell of writing

I just finished filling up the A4 size Master Dots notebook from Leuchtturm1917. It’s a nice book, and I’m tempted to start another one. Instead, I found myself writing in a new poor man’s midori I made.

Why? The smell. I’m addicted to the smell of the book, and that is one of the biggest reasons.

It’s gotten me thinking about how so many of the things we use to record our thoughts have a distinct smell.

Pencils. Both the cedar wood in finer pencils and the graphite, not to mention the erasers.

Leather accessories. Always a pleasure whether it is a briefcase or a notebook or a pen case. Leather is such a wonderful smell – on par with coffee and chocolate.

Inks. Fountain pen inks range from nearly odorless to quite stinky depending on the brand, but all are distinctive. Ballpoint ink can also be pretty strong, especially when a broad point is used. A freshly-filled page of writing with almost any instrument has it’s own smell. My kid’s crayons come to mind.

I’ve noticed that sometimes this smell triggers thoughts. When I rediscovered pencils a while back the smell of sharpening brought back an avalanche of memories from my grammar school days. The smell of fountain pen ink reminds me of several things. Grad school, journaling, certain trips I’ve gone on.

What about you? What do smells trigger for you?

6 thoughts on “The smell of writing

  1. Probably the ink that smells the most for me is the Cross Selecttip Gel refills. These write wonderfully and are water resistant. Pages of notes written with these (blue or black) smell; they basically stink. The smell, to me, is a chemical factory smell..(the factory where they are made)?


    1. Hi Teri,

      I actually like the smell of just about everything that has to do with pens, paper, ink, pencils, and even electronics. They’re all associate with mostly good memories. The only bad one is some Waterman ink that smells like synthetic smoke flavoring. Bad synthetic smoke flavoring. Thankfully it was pretty disappointing as an ink so I don’t use it much.

      As a guy I hesitate to use scented ink…just doesn’t seem right 😉


  2. Stationery scents trigger many pleasant memories for me. The “Goldenrod” tablets I used in gradeschool, thick pads with hundreds of wide-lined sheets, had a sweet but not cloying smell the same as the cheap pulpy paperbacks I would later read. I also particularly remember receiving a Parker fountain pen one Christmas in my tweens and the wonderful smell of the ink as I learned to write with it. Then there is the unmistakeable odor of the Artgum eraser as it disintegrates into crumbs while doing its work.


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