Health Hustle

How To Write With ADHD Without Driving Yourself Crazy

ADHD woman writer at typewriter

I always wanted to be a writer. Everyone has something that flows naturally, and for me it’s the Magical World of Words.

I was a shy, nerdy kid with thick glasses and bad skin. Where my sister was outgoing, pretty and made friends easily, I was her extreme opposite. Barely a year older in age, she outshone me completely. Our family moved every year (ADHD, rainbow-chasing dad?), and being the perpetual new kid at school was terrifying. Books became my stable companions.

And I became determined to write one.

Writing is Easy, Right?

A good story – or any piece of writing – has a specific structure. You probably remember this from English class. It has an introduction, beginning, middle and end. There’s a story arc, pacing, theme, message and conclusion. Details reveal and unfold the story according to a writer’s purpose and skill.

On the surface of it, writing doesn’t seem that hard. Most book lovers aspire to writing their own novels “some day.” After all, how tough can it be, right?

I always thought that, too. Over the years I’ve cut my writing teeth on countless diaries and journals. I was editor of my grade-school newspaper, The Glen Flora Gazette. I aced high school reports and research papers. In college I wrote letters to editors of large newspapers (that were published!) and easily scribbled out English papers that received great marks.

Later I wrote newsletters for umpteen organizations and jobs I held. I’ve been paid to write sales copy, and I’ve written more blog posts (for long-abandoned blog sites) than I can count.

But write a novel? Nope.

ADHD Makes Writing Hard

What I’ve learned about ADHD and novel writing is that it’s hard. And, so far, in my case it’s impossible.

Writing a novel takes skills that are anti-ADHD. It deeply involves the executive function of the brain: big picture planning, breakdown, milestones and details. It requires visualization like nobody’s business. It taxes the limits of structure and cohesiveness. And finally, it takes dogged consistency, discipline and the ability to withstand the absolute grueling monotony of plinking out those words.

I’ve started and fizzled on a dozen novels. Despite numerous writing books, writing exercises, writing clubs, writing forums and coaching by my incredible, professional-writer friend, Ryan Jacobson, I can’t get my ADHD head around it. I can’t keep the overall story visualized enough to put it together.

So what is an ADHD writer to do?

Shorten things up.

Blogging Makes It Better

Even a short story – or a blog post – requires a beginning, middle and end. The structure needed for a novel is also needed for an article, to a much lesser extent. Like any other project, the key is to create smaller, manageable tasks.

For a writer with ADHD, creating a daily article or blog post is a manageable task. And it builds the same skills that are needed for longer writing works. Finally, it’s a wonderful way to organize thoughts that otherwise tend to rattle around in unruly chaos.

A writer writes. For an ADHD writer, blogging is a good option.

What is your creative “something” that just won’t let go? How can you pull that into your life? Send me a note or comment below, and tell me how it goes. I’d love to hear how you do.

You are amazing, my beautiful friend. Share your magic today –

Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

author-sign

Dana

Dana is a freelance writer, serial entrepreneur and the author of "You Can Make Soap!" Diagnosed with ADHD in her late 40s, she's survived 33 moves, 16 jobs, 5 direct sales gigs and 3 home-building projects - all without medication or jail time. Dana is the Chief Toughie at ToughBaby.com, where she blogs about habits, hustle, and the brilliance of the human spirit.

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