Writing with ADHD

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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thndrcloud
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Writing with ADHD

Post by thndrcloud » February 6th, 2010, 11:30 pm

I wrote my first MS in the 2009 NaNo and have been working on revising it since then. I'm on page 36. To say that it's not going well would be an understatement. It's not lack of motivation. I sit down with my pages at least once a day although that doesn't mean I actually do anything with them. I just get so distracted! Writing under such a tight deadline was a rush and I had no problem getting through 80k in 30 days but editing is killing me.

I'm starting meds for ADHD on Monday (not because of my difficulty with revisions) and I'm hoping they'll help some but what would help more would be some coping techniques. Anyone else struggling with ADHD and have some ideas to help me buckle down and slog through this?

Kaitlyne
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Re: Writing with ADHD

Post by Kaitlyne » February 7th, 2010, 5:44 am

I don't, but I am easily distracted when writing, particularly if I'm at home. The most obvious suggestion I have is to find a place that's away from distractions. If you can't write while online because you're checking your email and chatting with friends and reading blogs, etc. (guilty), then pick up a notebook, go sit in a different room, and hand-write for awhile. You can always type it up at the end of the day, and getting distracted while typing isn't as big of a deal. Go to a room that doesn't have a TV or anything like that in it. For some people, listening to music helps get in the mood, so that could help as well. After that it's just a matter of making yourself do it. It's called self-discipline, and every writer has to have it. I think there's this idea that writers should be able to sit down and just become so automatically absorbed that they can just work in "the zone" for hours and churn out pages every day that way. I do that on occasion, but honestly, most of the time it's more a matter of just sitting down and making myself do it despite everything else going on. Something else that works well for me is to take a walk (carry a notebook!) or take a shower before sitting down to write because while I'm doing that I tend to focus very easily on the story. It's just a nice little transition period, if that makes sense. Transitions help a lot. Good luck!

RLS
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Re: Writing with ADHD

Post by RLS » February 9th, 2010, 5:54 pm

This topic is near and dear to my heart. In fact, adhd (or ADD) and its impact on self esteem and the artistic process are major themes that run through my (recently bought) debut novel.
But enough about my main character.
My whole life changed when I started taking medicine for ADD. Though highly controversial (and in my opinion, misunderstood) my life does not resemble that of my pre diagnosis and treatment days. I am not my family's breadwinner, so I'm lucky to have the freedom to pursue previously discarded passions. Namely, painting and writing. Within two years of taking medcine, I had a solo exhibition in a Manhattan gallery. Then I spent the next year writing daily (three times a day, for two to three hours at a clip-- which coincided with the time my medicine was 'in' me).
Besided the medicine, some crucial things that helped me:
1. I varied where I wrote. Some days I needed my home computer, other days, the temptations of home were vast, so I took my laptop to coffeeshops, waiting rooms and even the women's bathroom of a bustling NYC department store (couches, free outlet, no need to buy coffee, music piped in and the crucial thing-- enough stimulation to keep my active mind busy so my writer's mind could get to business.)
2. Often music over headphones helped stimulate AND quiet my mind, if that makes any sense.
3. I always worked off a document on a flash drive so that my laptop and home computer had the same document. As my manuscript grew, this was crucial.
4. I tried NOT to talk about my plot or process to others. Naysayers suck. Period.
5. I never drink alcohol or take non perscribed medicaiton. Ever.
6. Whenever anyone tried/tries to dissuade me from labling myself of taking medicine, I remember that my daughter had a neuro psych evaluation while on and off stimulant medication (for ADD) and her results were 1.5 standard deviation points higher on medicine. While these meds have side effects and are by no means a magic pill ... for me, the pros have far outweighed any cons. I only wish well behaved girls were diagnosed when I was a kid, because I truly believe my whole (educational) life would have been different.

Good luck. And please do me a favor: Update us as to your progress.

thndrcloud
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Re: Writing with ADHD

Post by thndrcloud » February 12th, 2010, 11:55 pm

I've been on meds for 5 days now and I've revised an additional 3 pages. While that doesn't sound all that impressive, I'm pleased. Monday morning when the pill kicked in I took one look at my house and realized it had to be priority #1. I was behind on everything so I channeled all my new focus into making it better. Yesterday I managed to find 20 minutes to sit down with my MS and that's when I knocked out those 3 pages. That's at least three times faster than I've been working.

Now that my home and family are back in order I plan to get serious about editing. If I continue to be able to accomplish tasks the way I did the last several days then next week should be wonderfully productive.

Thanks for the tips. Naysayers do suck and with my new and improved ability to shut my mouth I'll hopefully be dealing less with them. You'll have to let me know when and where to look for your book.

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Hillsy
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Re: Writing with ADHD

Post by Hillsy » February 14th, 2010, 3:15 pm

Fellow ADHD writer here and, well, seems I'm a little late to the party if the meds already seem to be helping. All the best and I hope it works for you! I'm in the final throes of revising a 287K MS at the moment at the rate of about a page and a half an hour.

But I'll leave a couple of tips that could help.

When ever I'm doing something I want to get into, properly get the hyperfocusing ability switched on, I will overstimulate myself with stuff I know and like. RLS said headphones and I agree. I also deliberately play the same few albums when I'm editing (A different set when I'm writing, a different set when I'm at work) - it blocks out other distractions. I also perform the same rituals, so for editing its a giant mug of tea, sit in the same place on the sofa, same time each day (I'm quitting smoking so my cigarette I used to have when I got in from work has been replaced by editing now). I rely massively on routine to get myself through each day without it turning into a mess. Building these routines takes time and a bit of forethought - but you only get a few periods of wrenching frustration before you relax into it - especially if its something you want to do in the first place.

Good luck dude and remember - we don't operate like non-ADHD people. Don't measure yourself that way.

adtabb
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Re: Writing with ADHD

Post by adtabb » February 15th, 2010, 7:10 am

With all of my health conditions, writing is one of my few joys.

That has been the most difficult, convincing myself that writing is not a waste of time, and that I should make time each day for what I enjoy. Having a regular writing schedule, except during work season of course, plenty of food and drink beside me as I write, I tend to forget to get up and eat or drink, and remembering that others do enjoy what I have to say.

Now, if my memory simply worked well enough to better be able to clearly write to others what is stuck in my brain.

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jmcooper
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Re: Writing with ADHD

Post by jmcooper » February 20th, 2010, 10:05 am

This is also near and dear to MY heart. I didn't even finish reading the thread after I got to this post. What you have described is my life and I am not sure how to deal with it!! I just finished an article titled "ADHD on Stage" because I have been wrestling with the challenges I have and how community theater has helped me. But I'm not in a production right now and I feel somewhat lost without that direction. Writing kept me solid for about three years. I non-stop wrote two books and started two more for a YA series. But right now: Nothing. (other than small articles and essays and blog posts) I feel like I'm floating off in the Atlantic somewhere. I have enrolled in Grad school (interview March 5th!) with hopes that it will give me direction again because I can't hold down a job. I hate "jobs". We are selling our house and downsizing so that I can do this. I'm 34--starting all over again--and terrified. You mention that you wish well behaved girls were diagnosed--this is EXACTLY what I grapple with each day. I question why no one ever saw a red flag and this is why: I was a behaved kid despite these challenges.

Each day that I do nothing with my books, I feel like more and more of a failure. But I just can't get back to it. I hang on the hopes that my mss will get noticed in this contest that I entered and give me direction once again. But what are the chances of that?

RLS wrote:This topic is near and dear to my heart. In fact, adhd (or ADD) and its impact on self esteem and the artistic process are major themes that run through my (recently bought) debut novel.
But enough about my main character.
My whole life changed when I started taking medicine for ADD. Though highly controversial (and in my opinion, misunderstood) my life does not resemble that of my pre diagnosis and treatment days. I am not my family's breadwinner, so I'm lucky to have the freedom to pursue previously discarded passions. Namely, painting and writing. Within two years of taking medcine, I had a solo exhibition in a Manhattan gallery. Then I spent the next year writing daily (three times a day, for two to three hours at a clip-- which coincided with the time my medicine was 'in' me).
Besided the medicine, some crucial things that helped me:
1. I varied where I wrote. Some days I needed my home computer, other days, the temptations of home were vast, so I took my laptop to coffeeshops, waiting rooms and even the women's bathroom of a bustling NYC department store (couches, free outlet, no need to buy coffee, music piped in and the crucial thing-- enough stimulation to keep my active mind busy so my writer's mind could get to business.)
2. Often music over headphones helped stimulate AND quiet my mind, if that makes any sense.
3. I always worked off a document on a flash drive so that my laptop and home computer had the same document. As my manuscript grew, this was crucial.
4. I tried NOT to talk about my plot or process to others. Naysayers suck. Period.
5. I never drink alcohol or take non perscribed medicaiton. Ever.
6. Whenever anyone tried/tries to dissuade me from labling myself of taking medicine, I remember that my daughter had a neuro psych evaluation while on and off stimulant medication (for ADD) and her results were 1.5 standard deviation points higher on medicine. While these meds have side effects and are by no means a magic pill ... for me, the pros have far outweighed any cons. I only wish well behaved girls were diagnosed when I was a kid, because I truly believe my whole (educational) life would have been different.

Good luck. And please do me a favor: Update us as to your progress.

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Crystal
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Re: Writing with ADHD

Post by Crystal » February 21st, 2010, 1:55 pm

Good luck with your meds and your editing. My son, 8, just started meds for ADD this week and I can see a HUGE difference in him, as well as his teacher and his basketball coach.

One suggestion I can make is to get the book The ADD Answer by Dr. Lawless. It has lots of suggestions for alternate treatments. I haven't read all of it but I am slowly working my way through it. Maybe you'll find something in there to help you.
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

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