Writing when you have the concentration span of a goldfish
My ADD is both a crux and a blessing to my writing. Listing every way that it influences my writing reminds me of how different things can be for me, and yet, nothing of my writing life seems at all unique.
Yeah, well I couldn’t leave that gif out, could I now? 😉 It’s a silly joke which lots of people relate to ADD. We do turn out to be awfully distractable and I’ve had this happen to me but with different things, usually, while I’m excited.
How ADD impacts my writing
Like I mentioned before, ADD has a huge impact on my life, including my writing. It brings a lot of extra challenges to the table, but it’s not all bad. I have a vivid imagination. I’m open-minded and creative and this all helps me build worlds quite excellently. I’m relatively good with seeing patterns too, so I make connections which others overlook.
Often times, whether I like doing something or not (but especially when not) I have a hard time focusing and staying focused on a task. Conversations, work, anything really. My mind just wanders, my thoughts drift out of reach, memories feel non-existent, and I end up doing something three times after someone told me they just did it for me because I just can’t recall any of it while it happened in the last 5 minutes. Often times when I do force myself to focus on something I get this feeling like when you know the word to something but you just can’t grasp it in your brain to fully recollect and say it. I have that feeling, but with everything. It’s hard to start something, keep doing it, and then finish it.
To write and read, you need to be able to concentrate, obviously. By now I’ve accepted that writer’s block is an ever-present part of my life as it happens at least several times a week or lasts for weeks. Months even. I have my writing sprints in between writing blocks, but they never last long. Editing is just as hard because reading is a big energy drain for me. I like reading when I don’t know what will happen next. Good thing I’m so forgetful though, I guess xD
On top of that, when I finally manage to start, I’m also easily distracted by all kinds of sounds, movements, other activities, and my own thoughts. Distractions will have me drifting off into wonderland several times a day. It’s hard for me to stick with one thing for a longer period of time unless I’m hyperfocusing. Finishing anything and meeting deadlines feels like an almost impossible feat!
All the chaos
On the one side I need structure and good organizing skills, on the other, I lack that so badly. I try, and I’ve gotten better, but it’s still a problem for me at times. I have writing notes in so many places I can’t keep track of them (because I planned to keep them in one place but I keep forgetting to actually do it). I’ve got 3 million story ideas and whatever I forget, more pile on, so when I write, my mind’s one huge cluttered mess even with outlines to straighten out whatever I plan to add to the story. I also procrastinate a lot (but I’m guessing that’s a thing for a lot of people regardless if they have ADD or not). What I do is I still try to point my procrastination into a direction close to my WIP. I do worldbuilding, make outlines, look at inspiring pictures and make moodboards on pinterest, etc. Every now and then, it’ll help me get writing again.
All the emotions
You might not have guessed this to really impact my writing but it does. When I’m emotionally overwhelmed, it takes me a long time to recover. I can’t write while I’m overwhelmed. On the other side, I tend to put quite a lot of emotion into my writing and being sensitive can help me channel all those feelings into my prose. I’ve received some lovely feedback on my emotional prose 🙂
Every writer struggles with feeling like their writing isn’t good enough. That includes me. The person who also can’t deal with rejection, so as much as I know I’m not the only one, it is still a big influence on how I live my “writer’s life” (since rejection is a huge part of it). Que all the self-care routines.
It all has to do with the Executive Functions. (Some call ADD Executive Function Disorder) They’re governed by a part of the brain, the frontal lobe which takes care of organizing and regulating your actions. If you want to know more about them, I could always make an extra post about it.
In short, my ADD is both a crux as a blessing to my writing. It mostly means I need to find out what works and what doesn’t for me personally and to do things at my own pace. Hey, guess what. That once’s universal 😉
In my next blog post I’ll be sharing some writing tips specifically for writers with ADD. Some of these tips will be helpful to other neurodiverse people, such as Autistic people. The post will be published next week, on Sep-26.
Have got something to share about writing with ADD? Leave a comment or use the hashtag #WritingWithADD and/or #actuallyADD