All genres of writing can excite and inflame the passion of writing within their writers and audience, but perhaps none moreso that horror (and all its off-shoots). Capturing the right atmosphere is crucial for a horror story, be it a moody, gothic novel, a teen slasher flick, a tense paranormal thriller, or a family-friendly spook-fest.

While some writers can sit down and immediately immerse their minds in whatever genre they’re writing, others enjoy getting a boost from their external environment. So we’ve put together a few ideas for getting yourself into the mood to craft tales of mystery, thrills, and chills using one of our mind’s most powerful tools: the senses.

Set the scene with the right lighting – a soft lamp, an arrangement of candles, a roaring fire – and don’t forget your screen background. Also, perhaps add a piece of ephemera appropriate to your work to your writing space: a raven, a skull, a little demon mascot, a mysterious bottle with unknown liquid inside (you may know what’s in there, but no one else has to)… you might even go so far as to decorate your entire writing space, or home, if you need some creative procrastination.

In order to let the creepy vibes spill forth from your mind onto your page/screen, do you yourself need to feel safe and cozy wrapped up in a plush throw? Or do you need to feel the slinky, smooth ripple of cool, silky PJs on your skin? Is your laptop the right implement to type through the moody moors, or would you be better off with a pen and paper? Do you need to write in the dapper suit of a gothic hero, or the goofy onesie of a silly spook?

Autumn is a great time for spooky writing because it offers such an array of scents. Perhaps you’re enticed by the decaying tree scents of a fall stroll that mimic old paper. Or maybe you need a scent to calm your frayed nerves during an intense writing session, in which case apples, or pumpkins, or even cookies might serve. All these scents can be found in natural environments, or in candles and incense to keep you safely indoors on a moonlit night.

Yes, we mentioned cookies. And of course the most natural way to obtain the scent of cookies is to bake them. Whether the chocolate boosts your mood, or you need a bit more creative procrastination, here’s a few ideas for procrastibaking while waiting for the cauldron of inspiration to start bubbling.

Chocolate-pumpkin Bread

Spiderweb Cookies

Cauldron Cakes

And speaking of cauldrons, don’t forget the welcome tastes of fall cider. Or tea. Or coffee. Or wine (is it wine, or is it something more sinister?).


As with smell, sounds of autumn can sometimes be found just by going to a location, or even opening up your doors or windows. But if you’re wary of what could enter through a portal once opened, here are some mood setting ambience resources:

Fall Ambience

Fall Writing Playlist

Spoopy Ambience

Spoopy Instrumental Playlist

If you crave the kooky tick of an old clock, you can search your phone’s app store for ticking clock apps, or let this clock/sitting room video set the visual as well as aural tone.

EXTRA sensory…
If none of these options or combinations work for you, there is always the option to attempt to conjure some spirits to get stories direct from the afterlife, brew potions to fuel your nightmares, or pledge your soul in exchange for creative success… but tempting as those options may be, we don’t recommend them.

And if you’re going to read the Latin, at least pronounce it correctly…

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