Writing and ADHD
I have ADHD. As a writer, a person, a mother, a wife… (the list continued)…ADHD is both a hindrance and a blessing. Why? How? WAIT A MINUTE… I thought only children had ADHD. You’re an adult.
Yes, I’m an adult and I have ADHD. I’ve had ADHD since I was a child. I’ve had it for over forty years. My brother has it. He was diagnosed when we were children. I wasn’t. Why? Because I could sit still. He couldn’t. If I were doing something that interested me I could sit still. Therefore, I couldn’t have it. WRONG, but we’ll get to that later.
In grade school my report cards were awesome, all except the conduct portion, which always read: Does not pay attention in class. Talking in class. Paying attention to the reading group while in the math group, vice versa…Looking back on it, all the signs were there. But back then, in the early 70s the H in ADHD meant you had to be Hyper to have it, and since I wasn’t Hyper, like my brother who couldn’t have sat still if his very life depended on it, I just needed to “do better,” try harder, PAY ATTENTION and FOCUS. I found ways around things. Coping skills that worked, for the most part, for me. I love to read. I can sit and read for hours, but I also read multiple books at a time. I am a multi-tasker. Books are one of the few things I could finish.
Unfortunately, the moment I get bored, lose my focus, find a better idea/project/etc I drop whatever I’m doing and go on to the next thing, the next idea… And they’re always such great ideas. Sometimes I get involved in multiple projects at one time. Reading isn’t enough, I also take pictures, draw, write, decorate, scrapbook, etc… I don’t always have follow-thru. Finishitis. I can’t seem to finish all the things I start. There’s just not enough of me, of my focus, my attention, my creativity or my memory for me to finish everything. So if it is really important to me I don’t stop until I am finish.
For example, a few months ago I got it into my mind to paint my step-daughter’s room. Spoke to Mr. Rockstar/Truck Driver about it. He liked the idea. He’d seen what my daughter and I had done with what was my son’s room turned into my writing room now turned back into my son’s room looked like after it was finished and he liked it. So we went to Wally World and bought the paint, an extra roller and a trim brush and headed back home. We moved furniture around, covered furniture, put paint tape on the trim, etc, and started painting. After the walls were finished, the ugly brown paint on the antique dresser looked even worse. I had an IDEA!
Why not use the left over paint from the wall in the writing room/son’s room, that beautiful turquoise color, and paint the ugly brown dresser and the worn, scratched nightstand. After all, her new comforter set had that exact shade of turquoise in it, plus the sheets and pillow cases that came with the comforter and shams were turquoise and white. Perfect! So then we painted the dresser and nightstand. WAALA!!! We went back over the missed spots on the wall and called it a day. Eight hours later. My poor husband. I was ecstatic and exhausted at the same time.
Writing is hard work, at least for me. It’s fun. It’s my passion and an outlet. But my writing process is probably a lot different than the average bear’s, I mean writer’s. For example, it has taken me over seven hours just to get to this part of the post. Why? First I got distracted by my husband, and laundry and the dishes. Then we had to go pick up dinner… Wings and fried rice from the local Chinese Food restaurant Than I ate dinner. Then I watched a movie. At the end of the movie Mr. Rockstar was asleep and I remembered I had to finish this post, but what I really wanted to do was watch another movie. While writing the post I had to find the right picture, then I had to find the information I wanted, then I had to check my email, then I had to check on something else, and get something else to drink. I got distracted by, oh look, it’s a squirrel.
I’ve tried outlining, using post-it notes, making lists, using Evernote and OneNote. I’ve tried using a Filofax to stay organized, I’ve tried inspiration boards and corkboards, I’ve tried all kind of things to try to help me focus, stay focused. To help the writing process. To tell you the truth, as I write this I have five tabs open–this is one of them. One of the others is an article “15 Signs You May Have Adult ADHD.” One of the other tabs is Larry Brooks’ StoryFix, Another is Camp NaNoWriMo to remind me that I need to post my word count, which reminds me that I should actually be writing my novel not taking over seven hours to write one blog post. WTH am I thinking? Oh, wait a minute… I’m thinking about writing, bicycles, getting another glass of soda, how I need to go pee, I need to get back to my novel, I need to finish this damn post, I need to see how much a new Wii Remote is, and Squirrel!
And that’s just a small portion of what I go through everyday when I sit down to write. Caffeine helps. I don’t do medication. I’ve been there, done that. And yes it would (most likely) help, but I can’t deal with the side effects, Neither can the people around me because the side affects cause other problems like depression, anxiety, diminished creativity, etc… Instead I have found that sometimes the best thing I can do is roll with it–when I get an idea I write it down. Hopefully I have my little “idea” notebook with me or nearby. If not, then I try to find a piece of paper. My desk is covered with post-it notes and index cards with ideas written on them. If I get distracted by a post-it note I’ve already written on, or if I can’t find a piece of paper, then chances are I’m going to forget my brilliant idea, and later on when I’m trying to remember it I won’t be able to, but I could tell you about how I felt in the fifth grade when my teacher Miss Bush (Mrs. Whittet after she got married) began reading Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot,” (And yes, I remember her name, but no I can’t tell you the big idea I had five minutes ago because I didn’t write it down.)
I forget things.I have one of those three picture frame holders with four hooks for you to hang your keys on. It’s hung on the wall right beside the front door. I hang my keys there 99% of the time. The other 1% I put them on the kitchen counter or in my purse. If I do not put them in the same place all the time then I’ll spend a bunch of energy and time looking for them. My desk looks similar to the picture above, only I’ve got a ton of colored post-it notes scattered across mine. I call it creative clutter. I know where everything is, but I’m not sure anyone else would. My ex husband has OCD and I drove him crazy with my creative clutter. Mr. Rockstar, however, gets me. He’s laid back enough that it’s not a big deal to him. He finds it adorable that I go off on tangents, and most of the time he gets my logic. Most people don’t.
The whole tangent thing is something that is a constant issue when writing though. It’s either a blessing because it leads me in a great direction, or it’s complete rubish and wasted time and effort and will have to be cut when I edit. Not such a bad thing when it comes to NaNo but a bad thing when it comes to my actual content. So now that I’ve told you a little bit about my writing process and my ADHD, if you have adult ADHD or think you might check out this link.
Have a good one!