Skip to main content

On Writing, Part 2: Writing With ADHD

I was twelve years old, standing beneath a gray sky in Berkeley, California. Beside me, my mother wants to take my hand but is trying to respect that I'm too old for it. She stands there, in front of the student med clinic at her alma matter of UC Berkeley. She is taking several deep breaths, on the verge of happy tears. After so many years of disruptive behavior, and questions with no answers, I have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder. At last, things made sense.

(c) Grey Brechin

After a few moments of contemplation, my mother looks at me and says; "We don't have to do it, you know."
"Do what?"
"Medicate you."
Mom saw what certain medications did to other kids. She likened it getting lobotomized.
It was a no-win situation. The medication the doctors were advising, Ritalin, would mute me. Without it, I'd be a hyperactive nightmare for my parents. But I'd keep my imagination. I turned down the medication.
Giving me the choice was one of the best things my mother ever did for me.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a learning disability that makes paying attention to one thing very difficult, almost impossible unless it's highly stimulating (like a video game). It's a TV in your mind that is always changing channels, and you are not in control of the remote. The hyperactive variation means the channel changes once every second. People who deal with it suffer from low self-esteem and struggle to form positive relationships (check and check).


It can also be a tremendous boon to creativity because your imagination never stops going.
But sitting down to write, focus that creativity into a single objective can feel like a slow death.

I've been living with ADHD for almost thirty years. I've written and published, a number of shorts over the years, learning to tame the disorder to a point where I can work. Here's how you can succeed as a writer ADHD.

Make Time For Your Writing

The mind craves routine. When you first attempt this, it may be like trying to hold lightning in your hands, but as you get used to it, your mind will acclimate, and then anticipate that the time you set aside is solely for the writing process.

Keep The Browser Closed

Oh, internet, you wonderful, beautiful time sink with your adorable, hilarious gifs and memes and tweets and Facebooking. You have enough open browsers in your mind (it took me three tries just to write this sentence), so minimize the distractions and keep your browsers closed.

Block Out The World

Seriously. No phone, no notifications, no nothing. Music may help the process along. Don't let anything get between you and what must be done. Which brings me to my final point.


Ryu learns to focus
One of my favorite animes, Street Fighter 2 V, had Ryu in a temple trying to learn Hadoken. He could see his ki firing over the place like random bullets. He realized these were his intentions, and that he had ''too many thoughts, too many questions". He realized that he could focus these intentions into a single attack and fired off Hadoken. It's the best analogy I can think of for sitting down and getting the job done. You have no distractions, nothing to get in the way at this point except what's in your own mind. What are you here to write? Bring your mind to that. Again you may find yourself wrestling the lightning, but it does get easier over the time. Bring your focus to the project at hand, and focus only on that. Then, put your fingers to the keyboard and trust the process. Living with ADHD doesn't get any easier over time, but it can be a boon if you allow it. I've been writing as long as I've been contending with this disorder, and thanks to these tips, a lot of trial and error and my wonderful mother, I'm better for it.


Thanks for reading.

You can now add the Road Home to your favorite RSS aggregator! Click here to add this blog to your feeds!


Popular posts from this blog

The Long Road Home

I will end you tonight. No, wait. That's not where the story starts. The story starts two and a half years before this, when Michelle (referred to as Michelle for legal reasons because SATAN was too heavily trademarked) reached out to me by Facebook. She mentioned that we played the same Facebook game and she wanted to say hi. I had never, in fact, even heard of the Facebook game. But I was freshly broken out of a relationship and she was pretty with a good body so I said "Hurr, okay." Conversation ensues. She tells me we came up in the same place. We did not come up in the same place. We spent one night in San Francisco talking. But I really wanted to sleep with her. So, "Hurr, okay." Fast forward a few months. I've left Missouri for the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I've settled into the ass end of Lynnwood, a suburb of Seattle. The apartment was so bad that the landlord wrote the mold on the wall off as "crayon coloring

America: A True Story About Hatred and Unity

I wanted fast food tonight. That was all. I found myself at Burger King to pick up my wife's order. I was a few cars deep when I spotted the Confederate flag. I surreptitiously snapped a few photos. This was going to be a very different story. When I pull out of Burger King, it turns out there's more than one. In fact, there are four trucks, each flying variations of the flag. I have to go around the front of them to avoid an accident. They're parked right in the middle of the road. As I drive around them, each person in the vehicle makes it a point to ensure I see them. I do. They see me too. When I get to McDonald's (which is in the same lot), I learn that they're not taking debit cards at the moment. Terrific. I wanted chicken nuggets and instead, I get a run-in with the new Confederacy. So I make my way back to Burger King, again appearing in full view of the trucks. I place my order, get it, pay, and pull out. Then one of the

Wave Rocketbook Reviewed

I love writing by hand, and I love notebooks. I'll often devote entire budgets to them and when Officemax has one of their twenty-five cent sales, I'll buy them out. I often draft by hand, finding that the scene comes together more purely when it flows from a pen rather than a keyboard. So when DailyDot advertised a durable new type of notebook that you could use over and over again for the cheap price of twenty-five (thirty after shipping) US Dollars? I'm down. The Wave Rocketbook is meant to be elegant in its design and simple in its execution. The instructions come on the bag itself, and only the pen and notebook are included. The pen feels like any other, so you have to be careful not to mix it into your collection or you will end up marking your notebook with the wrong pen (like I did). The ink is erasable, which is a bonus. A place to put the pen would've been nice, but it clips easily, if not securely, into the ringed binding. The paper is thick and