Do you ever feel like there are so many thoughts swirling in your brain you’ll never be able to concentrate on one? I think many of us feel like that now. There are emails to answer, social media accounts to update, phone calls to return and blog posts to write. Then you have those household chores that need to be done. Many times I have been cooking dinner, unloading the dishwasher and washing laundry all at the same time.
I’ve found that this kind of chronic multitasking has even carried over to my creative life. I’ll be writing, but instead of concentrating wholly on that I will also be thinking about a plot hole I need to fix two chapters back, am carrying on a conversation on Twitter and the dreaded internal critic is telling me everything I’m writing is a stinking pile of horse excrement. In fact, as I’m writing this post I have also been reading new emails, checking Facebook and thinking this post is as convoluted as the Appalachian Mountains. That inner critic, that little voice in our head that makes us second guess ourselves, likes to butt into the creative process with reckless abandon. It’s self-sabotage. We know that, but how do we stop it?
I like to multitask the inner critic into submission. Set that pesky part of your mind to work on a simple, often repetitive, task. Then go back to your creative project and see how much better it flows. I’ve actually been using this method for years without even realizing it. Whenever my writing starts slowing down or I hit a creative wall, I instinctively walk away from my computer and do housework. Vacuuming, unloading or loading the dishwasher, sorting laundry – the kind of tasks I can practically do in my sleep. The magic thing is that the hypercritical devil that was on my shoulder starts concentrating on the minutiae of the chore and leaves the rest of my mind to get itself back on solid creative ground. Pushing the vacuum back and forth, putting silverware into the correct slot, matching socks – there is an almost meditative side to those acts. I also find counting works wonders for me, so I’ll pick up an easy beadwork, knitting or crocheting project. The key to that is it must be easy, stitches you have already mastered or a project that is well underway that you understand completely. You don’t want to frustrate yourself by trying to figure out something complicated. Remember, you’re trying to lull that trouble-causing critic to sleep. If you aren’t into cleaning or crafting you could also try doing things like rearranging your desk, playing a game of solitaire or sorting stray files on your computer into folders.
What kinds of things do you do to quiet your inner critic?