Living With ADHD As An Author
A couple of months ago, I read an article in a magazine I subscribe to about an author with ADHD and I thought what a good idea, I should share my experiences on my blog. I believe that was in mid-August. It is now late October. A fact that highlights exactly what ADHD is like. It's wanting to do something, but procrastinating for a long time before it actually gets done or it becomes urgent. As someone diagnosed this summer, at the age of 36, I have had to deal with my 'eccentricities' without knowing what they were for my whole life. I knew that I procrastinated a lot, but when it came to deadlines, I always got the work done, so no big deal right? Well, kinda. I could have done so much more if I didn't procrastinate. Which is one of my main anxieties in life - so much to do, so little time, so why am I watching Netflix instead of doing them?
Writing has always been my passion, the only 'hobby' that I have stuck with since childhood, while everything else fell by the wayside. I believe it is because, with writing, you can create any world, any character, the possibilities are endless, so the passion for it never goes away.
I started writing around the age of 7, so for thirty years I have made up stories and fantasy worlds in my head and this I believe can also be attributed to my ADHD. When bored in class as a child, I would escape into these worlds, more eager to get home and write them down than listen to what the teacher had to say. So for me, the desire to write has never been the issue - meeting deadlines and sticking to one story at a time is.
When I first started writing, I would get an idea and get incredibly excited about it. Grabbing my notebook, I would start scribbling away until I filled several pages. Then another idea would pop into my head and I'd write that instead. By the time I was a teenager, I had dozens of notebooks and folders full of half-written stories. (With the certainty that I would eventually go back and finish them - spoiler alert, I didn't.) I even still have one of the folders.
It wasn't until my twenties that I finally realized that the only way to succeed in writing, was to get strict with myself and finish a story! Having a deadline, though frustrating, does drive me forward and makes me focus on the story. It was one of the first stories that I took through to the end that got published in 2012. I haven't stopped since, sometimes writing close to twenty short stories, novellas, and novels a year! Crazy and something I never thought I could do. The key to me was routine, and a deadline with something to lose if I didn't meet it. For example, if you fail to upload a story to Amazon by the date stated, you lose your preorder privileges for a year. A pretty big consequence. I also let my readers know when I plan to release and I hate letting them down.
That isn't to say I don't still put things off and let things slide, I still do, but I have learned to be tougher with myself and not rely on hyper-focus to get me through. (For those unfamiliar, it is the total focus that kicks in a few days before the deadline. While useful, I did write 9000 words in 6 hours once and couldn't move my wrists the next day so...)
Having a diagnosis has been a big step forward, knowing that I'm procrastinating for a reason and not just because I'm 'lazy' has really made a difference. I hate the word lazy in reference to ADHD because if you know someone who suffers from it or you have it yourself, you know it couldn't be further from the truth. We are fully capable of doing all the things, we just have issues because we try to do them all at once and mess ourselves up!
But while it has its downsides, ADHD can be a superpower at times and I wouldn't want to be any other way. So here are my top tips that help me as a writer. (Everyone is different, but some may help you too.)
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About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”