No! It couldn’t be. Could it? I’m just being silly, ADHD is for kids–not grown up writer people like me. Naw…I’m too mature and sensible for such nonsense–or am I?
I was at Word on the Lake Writer’s Festival in Salmon Arm, B.C. last weekend when one of the presenters told the class she’d been officially diagnosed with adult ADHD. She told a story about how she’d start working on a writing project but then absently let her mind to veer off to other places where she’d think up new tasks and creative projects. The work wasn’t getting done.
I found this utterly fascinating because I’m about the same age as her (somewhere around 40-ish–give or take ten or so years–you decide the give or the take but be kind) and I do exactly what she described.
I’ll be ALL-IN on a writing project only to find myself drifting away to think about something else that’s popped into my brain. New story ideas, freelance contracts, who I should interview, what I should wear to said interview, something to research, a short-story contest, a theme for a writing class, …it goes on and on.
The interesting thing is that those annoying little pop-ins are often not worth pursuing in the long run. The distractions (as I’ll now call them) are impulsive and not well thought out and often lead down a path of simply wasting precious writing time. This flippin’ happens to me alllll the time.
After thinking about it on the drive home from the Festival, I decided to look up ADHD in the dictionary before I slapped this diagnosis on myself. As a writer, I consider the dictionary and her cousin the thesaurus, two of my best go-to’s. But I digress…
So apparently ADHD is “marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity.”
Yup. That’s me. And, while I’m not like one of those hyperactive kids who’s constantly climbing walls, chitter-chattering, and spinning around in circles until they drop–the definition definitely describes my brain.
The energy, thoughts, and nonstop blather in my brain twist and whirl in every direction imaginable at speeds that would suck the breath right out of you. It not only exhausts me to a point of not being able to always think straight but leaves me feeling like I’m doing a half-assed job on things that deserve more of my focus and attention.
The question is, what’s the cause and how do I change it?
I read a little further and almost burst out laughing. ADHD is caused by “lack of discipline, a chaotic family life, and/or too much television.”
Seriously? If that’s all it is then it’s in my hands and I need to crack the whip and get serious about staying on task.
The presenter at the conference indicated that she gave herself permission to admit that not all her ideas were good ones and that it was ok to let things go. She kept a notebook and jotted them down to look at later. If they didn’t resonate in some way then she’d allow herself to forget about them. She found that she’d be more engaged and less likely to wonder if she was more passionate and engaged about the work.
I think that’s really good advice.
So, I’m hereby diagnosing myself with ADHD Writer Brain or ADHDWB!! (Yes, two exclamation marks are actually necessary because this could be the beginning of something beautiful and productive.) For me being aware is the first step and then I need to prioritize, make lists, and stick to it.
I need to discipline myself…not to the Principal’s office but with staying on task…I know I can do this.
Oh, look there’s a butterfly…
…I’ll keep you posted.
2 thoughts on “My Twisted Writer Brain Never Stops–Could it be ADHD?”
Hi Faye. Check out the book Deep Work, by Cal Newport. It’s eye-opening and potentially life-changing. I think all writers suffer from the attraction of the shiny new idea when you’re up to your neck in the hard slog of a stubborn manuscript. I’ve learned to write it down, set it aside, and get back to work. But it’s hard. I struggle to stay on task too—obviously, since I’m here writing this instead of doing what I’m supposed to be doing 😉 Good luck!
Lol…I love that you’re here and commenting. Awesome. Yes. It is difficult to stay on task sometimes but I’m aware and for the last few days have been using Alexa to set alarms and stay more focused. It always shocks me how quickly time goes when you start scrolling through Twitter or searching the web for something. I find myself climbing down that proverbial rabbit hole. I’ll check out the book–but later because if I go check it out I won’t get anything done…lol. Thanks for the comments. So appreciated. xo