Home / Tricks of the Trade / Wired for sound

The zone. It’s a place every creative person seeks. It’s that state of being when everything clicks. Suddenly, you know exactly how all of the pieces fit together—all of your ideas and intentions are aligned and you’re ready to create something great.

But how do you get there? There’s no single answer—but it often starts with setting the right mood. And in my not-so-scientific research so far, I’ve discovered a few things about the power of sound to set that mood.

Find your jam

Sure, sometimes all you need are some good beats and you’re all psyched up to get to work. But not all the time. I’ve written before about distracting your brain to help give it more focus—and it turns out that sound offers yet another—sometimes bizarre—way to do that.

Follow your bliss

Gentle whispering. Soft scratching. Even the soft tones of Bob Ross (yes, I’m talking about the “Let’s put a happy tree right here” guy from that PBS painting show). These are some of the sounds of something called autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). If you’re sensitive to it, ASMR acoustic stimuli can give you a tingling sensation that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck to your spine, causing a “low-grade euphoria characterized by a combination of positive feelings.”

Sound good? Then you’re in luck, because there are a gazillion options for experiencing it for yourself. Search for “ASMR” and you can’t miss. One of our favorites involves a lady crunching pickles over a microphone. No, I’m not kidding. You can’t make this stuff up.

Know your triggers

For those with a hypersensitivity to certain sounds, however, these lip-smacking and crunching sounds are pure hell. People who suffer from Misophonia have a strong, physical reaction to these “trigger sounds”—and can suffer from an involuntary, physical response of stress, irritation, and in extreme cases even rage. (Look out, pickle lady!)

Tune in to tune out

Some people swear by classical music’s powers to help you concentrate (and I completely agree)—but there are other options to seek the zone by. One of my go-to sources is listening to alpha wave binaural beats. Some are meant to relax you, some help you focus. I find they work best when listening with headphones to help filter out other background noises and drown out everything else. Again, YouTube is a goldmine—just do a quick search and you can take your pick.

And when your time in the creative zone is done, put your feet up and chillax with some nature sounds. You’ve earned it.