How to Write in Spite of Your ADHD
Learn to hyper focus on your work
ADHD is a disorder that makes my life way harder than it needs to be.
It’s responsible for my focusing problems as well as my impulsive nature. I acted out so much as a kid just because of my impulses. And that’s before I even knew what they were! Any of my fellow impulsive kids know the struggle.
Symptoms of ADHD include:
- Difficulties concentrating on any one thing, especially if it’s uninteresting.
- Impulsive behavior.
- Hyperactive behavior.
- The complete inability to just do one task at a time (in my experience anyway).
- Low temper, or just easily frustrated.
As you can tell, ADHD gets in the way a lot. It’s got benefits (being hyper aware of everything going on is cool), but it makes any job harder than it has to be. Especially writing.
If you’re a writer with ADHD (or just an impulsive and easily-distracted writer), then you know the struggle. Concentrating on just one assignment takes all the power you’ve got. And if you’re disinterested in the task? Forget it. It’s never being done.
I’ve had to find ways to cope with my disorder just to become a writer in the first place. Luckily it’s my passion, so my body was willing to lend me plenty of energy.
I’d like to share all the ways in which I’ve battled myself. Purely in the hopes that it’ll help you out in case you have similar issues.
All Distractions Must Be Eliminated
You’ll need to get rid of anything that’ll distract you from your goal. Most writers recommend disconnecting from the internet, but then how will I listen to my playlist?
If you stay connected, just make sure that you don’t click off of your word document. Or if you do, make sure that you catch yourself doing it. Staying on task needs to become a habit, so build it.
When you check Google for research purposes, make sure you don’t type anything else in that search bar. Literally anything but your immediate research will plunge you face first into a rabbit hole that you can’t escape from.
In order to tune out distractions, put on a chill instrumental playlist, or something of the sort. Good music helps me focus on my task, and a playlist eliminates the need to look away from the screen to change songs.
Time to Get Organized
Having ADHD is the fastest shortcut to messes and disorganization. Being so hyperactive and impulsive all the time means starting 20 projects and never finishing them. It also means leaving stuff lying around and promising to clean it up later.
Well, it’s later.
You’ll need a system to organize your messy brain. Get an application like Evernote or Trello to help make sense of it all. Write down your ideas and get your projects in order.
For Medium, I like saving all my ideas as headlines. When I feel like turning one into an article, all I have to do is start writing below the headline. That keeps all my ideas in the same place that I’m going to publish them from. No more losing an idea in one of the ten lists you’ve got lying around.
Do Just Enough
You can’t just work on one thing when you’ve got ADHD. Your mind’s firing off on too many cylinders for that. You need to accommodate it.
You’ll want to juggle two to three things at once. That’s okay. It’s a healthy balance of work if you can manage it all. It’s just enough variety to keep you from getting bored.
If you try to do everything at once, you’re bound to run into trouble. You’ll get overwhelmed. Don’t take on more than you can chew just because your impulses tell you to.
It’s not impossible to work when you have ADHD. It’s just harder than usual. It’s a challenge that you can overcome. The best part of doing something hard is beating the odds, so use that as motivation. It’ll also be fun to prove all your naysayers wrong.
When you’re feeling down because of something you can’t control, don’t worry. You’re not dumb and you weren’t born wrong. All it takes is doing things a certain way. Your way.
Kesten E. Harris is an author with four books and counting under his name. When he's not publishing those, he's writing self improvement articles.