Sound vs. Noise
I have a number of CDs/MP3 tracks I often play but rarely hear. I'm plugged into an old favorite now, An English Ladymass by Anonymous 4, a gorgeous medieval groove.
Beautiful as it is, I don't play it so much to listen as to overlay the harsh cacophony of what I like to call The Noise. More than the literal racket of ringing phones and barking dogs and your neighbor's darned leaf blower, this noise consists in equal parts of old rejections, fear of new ones, and discouraging pronouncements from the Voices of Doom (many of which write articles, post blogs, and tweet copiously, shrilling the news of markets collapsing, agents despairing, and, to put the cherry on top, your most recent effort stinking up the planet.)
Now, I'm not advocating a head-in-the-sand approach to writing (or life in general), but there's a difference between the necessary evil of staying aware and allowing The Noise to take up residence in your skull. Art can't happen in the presence of fear, so you have to find some way to silence both the internal and external factors that prevent you from creating.
In my case, I make the conscious decision to choose sound over noise, to quit reading the naysayers, and to get on with the business of telling the stories I want to tell, to dream, and to inhabit. And I take it as an article of faith that if I love that story and its characters enough, so will others.
So what steps do you take to quiet The Noise?