The Writer with A.D.H.D.

There is this crazy dissonance sometimes in my head.  I am “blessed” to have three children with ADHD or ADD, a neurological condition that makes focus and completion of tasks difficult, and can often exhibit as impulsive behavior that doesn’t take into account consequences of one’s actions.  The “if I do this, that will occur” portion of the thought pattern is lacking.  And because ADHD/ADD are genetic, I have family members with the condition, and there is the very real possibility that at some level, I also have it.

Which I would love to use as an excuse for why I can’t seem to finish my novels.  I flip and flop between projects, hyper-focusing for a few weeks until there is no forward progress, and move onto another project.  It takes a very real effort to stay focused and work it through, but there are so many black holes that keep swallowing things up, I find myself struggling with this particular demon.

In the last 8 months, I’ve not finished anything, and have flopped between at least four different projects.  My mildy paranormal contemporary romance, A Cabin in the Woods, has stalled fully, as I am still trying to figure out what to put where and how not to overuse the ghost of the grandfather.  My contemporary romance, Choices of the Heart, has floundered as I look for way to make the heroine hate the hero until the big crisis brings him back (boy loses girl plot). My mainstream fiction piece, The Mountain Man, has stalled because I find myself faltering on building the protagonist into a villain while also making him a sympathetic character that the reader will want to see succeed.  And Without a Net, the story set in the circus, suffers from too many characters and too much story.  I’ve been taking an Exacto knife to it for the last two weeks, hoping to whittle this story into something manageable and readable.

I could never read two books at a time, much less four, but why do I keep trying to work on four novels at once?

Frustrating!  But, I’m doing my best to apply myself.  Right now, the circus novel is getting the best of my energy, and there is a great story there, a mostly finished story, without too many missing pieces.  As an organized, project-management-trained person, and good at prioritization, I should tackle that one the hardest, as it has the most likelihood of being able to be finished quicker and more easily than other projects.  As in, get the easiest projects out of the way first, so you can mark one off in the “win” column. Low-hanging fruit.  Quick reward, little work.

I need someone to stand behind me and remind me to keep going and not go back to the others until I’ve finished this one.  The angel on my shoulder isn’t quite doing her job anymore.  She’s probably exhausted and has whiplash from my constant flopping around!

How do you do it?  Any advice for me?

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Fairest of the Faire

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

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7 thoughts on “The Writer with A.D.H.D.

  1. It’s hard with ADHD. There are many in my family, including my grandsons that have this condition. In truth, I believe I have a form of it, too. How do I tackle working on ONE project at a time? Discipline. Shutting out all the other noise can be difficult. It’s hard for me to sit still and focus on one item. I thrive on chaos and many projects. Yes, I can complete them all, but when it’s time to sit my fanny down and write, I freeze. So, I have a ritual each time I start…I take deep breaths, shut out all the background noise (including other projects), and concentrate on the story swimming in my head. And when I start to drift–check on email, look at another plot-line, take a peek at my word count or the time, I say, “No,” gently. It may take up to 30 minutes for me to settle in, but it always works. I can’t say it will help others, but it’s what I do. Keep working on the project that calls you the most, Susabelle. I’m cheering you along!

  2. I have Shiny-Thing Syndrome. It’s very easy to get distracted, so I do try and quiet the space around me. I set time requirements for myself but I’m realistic by saying 10 or 20 minutes devoted strictly to writing. Lots of times, I’ll get caught up in it and produce much better. But when I don’t, I set new goals for later that day. It works fairly well, but honestly, not always. Best wishes

  3. I’m in sort of the same situation with several unfinished projects hounding me at the moment, even though I don’t have ADHD (at least I don’t think so). Mary and Amity’s advice sounds very helpful. Small, disciplined time periods totally devoted to writing, and also being gentle with ourselves. I’ve found that nothing good comes from beating myself up. Good luck, Susabelle!

  4. I block out my time with goals for the hour or the day. If the goals are broken up and small enough it is easy to give yourself a break/reward when the goal is met.
    If I have an idea for a project that I am not currently working on I don’t switch projects. I open a notebook and I write down the idea in the notebook and go back to the current WIP.
    I actually also talk to myself. “Don’t get up till you finish.” My dog doesn’t seem to mind.
    You know ADHD ppl are highly intelligent genius types…

  5. I have too many writing projects that need my attention as well. In an effort to try to finish writing something, I tell myself I only have to write for 10-20 minutes like Amity suggested. When I sit down at the computer and my head is COMPLETELY blank, I start to write: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog–over and over and over again. Trust me, you’ll get so bored typing this well-known verse, you’ll beg your mind to dig deep and come up with coherent sentences. Don’t beat yourself up. I think we’re all still coming off the holiday ride of December. Good luck.

  6. Sounds like you know which book is calling to you. So set a firm time when you are going to write only that project 20-30 minutes, time to get caught up in the story. Quiet your mind first and tell yourself you can do this. Jana, Amity and Mary all have sound advice. About the ones you are stuck on, have a brainstorming session with someone to work out where you are going with it. Also always have a note book to write new ideas in, jot enough down to get it out of your head, then go back to whatever you are working on. Good luck, I know you can do it. Determination and discipline are the keys.

    • Great advice, Tena, as well as the rest of you. Although my daughter and husband have ADHD, I’m sort of the opposite. In general, I’m really good at focusing on one thing and tuning out everything else. I call it compartmentalizing, where I deal with one thing at a time, before moving on to the next.

      That said, I have become a much slower writer than I ever was before the internet, and that’s because there are so many other, easier, things to do while at the computer: on-line shopping, social media, etc. To cope and finally get this book (which I’ve been working on for over year) finished, I have started briefly checking email, but not responding to any post unless it is absolutely necessary, then going immediately to my WIP and not getting back on the internet until I’ve gotten a chunk of writing done. I’m putting my writing first, in terms of my computer time.

      As for switching back and forth between books, I’m seldom tempted to do that. Which can be bad. Two years ago I kept working on a time travel romance that was a sequel to a previous book, even after the first book had abysmal sales and it was clear I should have moved on to a different project. Because of that stubborn persistence, it’s going to be over two years between books for me, which is not at all good for my career. So, my thought is that you have to have a balance of being super focused, while also considering the big picture: which book is most likely to help you grow your career.

      Very interesting topic, Susabelle! Best wishes on finding your way in 2017.

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