Distract Your Inner Critic


I have written before about the evils of multi-tasking and especially task-switching. However I’d like to offer a caveat.

One part of the brain – the critic – is logical, rational, judgmental, and oriented to language and analysis. Distract this part with other words or quantitative, patterned, or analytical input (like music), and you can occupy your inner critic… thus allowing the fun and playful part of your brain to have free rein,  much like a child playing alone in a room or a garden.

For instance, I like to paint to music. I try to keep with one song or one album throughout a whole piece, but you could do either way. While music with vocals is distracting to me while doing statistics or writing up my academic research (I love lyrics too much!), I find the opposite is true with painting. I can only last painting in silence for 30 minutes or so, before being frustrated or disgusted or antsy, but I can actually relax and paint for hours at a time while listening vocal music.

If you’ve been struggling with Resistance against doing your Creative Work, you should try turning on a light-handed distractor, like ambient music (I do love Ratatat for writing).  The desire to over-ride your distractor, and actually engage with your creative task, may surprise even the worst procrastinators.  A little surround-sound offers the same thing that a deadline does – a need to just focus on the task at hand, no matter what the inner critic says.

2 Replies to “Distract Your Inner Critic”

    1. Taragh! Agreed. I love making my soundtrack clash with my environment. Walking through Paris listening to Country Western music is one of my favorite experiences. Amazing how we can sometimes forget the incredible mind-set changing power of music and get absorbed in the chaos of everything around us. A little soundtrack can cast it all in a different light.

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