1. pkiri
    Offline

    pkiri New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0

    Writing with attention disorders...tips?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by pkiri, Jul 14, 2012.

    I have a few medications that cause me to be very on edge, along with having anxiety problems, and lately I've found it hard to sit down and actually write anything. When I do, what usually comes out usually doesn't interest me at all later in the week. I would really like to learn how to help myself focus more and be able to write more than 2,000 words in one sitting without distracting myself. I have a friend with ADHD who has similar problems, and I would really appreciate any tips from anyone who experiences similar things.
     
  2. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I was diagnosed with AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder) many years ago. While it may seem strange, I use something to concentrate against - for example, I usually have the TV on while I write. It becomes like white noise, and yet it allows me that momentary distraction - which then allows me to straighten up and get back to work. I can't use music, because I start concentrating more on the rhythm than on my writing. And having the "quiet, no distraction" place to write - forget it. My mind will go in a zillion different directions - none of them called 'writing'.
     
  3. bsbvermont
    Offline

    bsbvermont Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    1
    From one ADD to another...it's a gift as much as a curse, so make it work for YOU. Find a time of day that is right for you (for me it's either 9 AM or 7 PM...who knows why) and a location and stick to a pattern. I find reading my text out loud as I write, or just after I have written something really helps me concentrate. Also be SURE to have someone else read your work over or reread many many times as a reader with a critical eye, not a writer. My mind goes so fast when I'm writing that I'm always sure I have included details that are clearly not there. Keep writing...having ADD means your mind goes to many creative places...use them!
     
  4. Darkkin
    Offline

    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    515
    Location:
    Following the footprints in the sand...
    Diagnosed with severe ADHD at age five, I've carried the label and stigmata my entire life, been told I will never amount to anything. I now have two degrees to the contrary. Medications made me ill, but with music and books I hit my stride. The words came to life. I have countless playlists for different projects and moods, with many of the songs repeating throughout. It sets a pattern, a refrain of sorts, that settles my attention when it begins to wander.

    I never write in a 'nice quiet corner', either I find a busy hub: the library, campus commons, bookstore, booth at the cafe...the park. Somewhere people are whirling by, oblivious to all but their own agendas; I'm invisible, which is just fine with me. The greater the outside chaos, the greater my own concentration. With my playlist, or more often, a single song, on repeat. My world contracts and I am swallowed up by my bubble. Nothing exists except for my fingers, imagination, and my computer screen. It is an addicting place to be, a writer's high.

    Because of the ADHD, I think faster and deeper, fingers flying on my keyboard to capture the images in my head. What follows are massive bouts of proofreading and editing. When I proof I read aloud, mostly to Rue. If it doesn't read well, I shred and rewrite, until it does. Reading aloud takes it out of my head and puts it in another perspective. Simon and Garfunkle's The Boxer sums it up nicely: 'People hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.' With ADHD, I see what I want to see...You get the picture. By reading it aloud, the amorphous becomes tangible, more than mere letters on a screen.

    Music gives me tenet points, but exercise helps, too. If I hit a snag, I will take a short walk, or stretch, giving my thoughts a brief reprieve. A bit like a swimmer coming up for air. My last defense to release nervous distraction is the huge yoga ball serving as my desk chair. I'm 5'4", my ball was designed for people 5'10" and taller. My feet don't touch the floor, balancing focuses my fidgets, allowing me to focus on my work. But even with all that most days I usually average around 2500 words on a good day. I am usually mentally wrung out by the end of it.

    - Darkkin
     
  5. rogue writer
    Offline

    rogue writer Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2012
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Southern CA
    Tip #1: Don't turn the tv or radio on. Excercise (It helps me come up w/ great ideas). Force yourself to finish (realizing you don't have to show it to anyone). Sometimes I surprise myself and come up w/ great stuff I think will be unusable.

    Tip #2: Ask your doc for Adderall.
     
  6. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    436
    Likes Received:
    18
    I'm not ADHD, but as an autistic person I've found some parallel.

    What works for me is to set up situations where there's nothing else to do but write. My parents are church-goers, and I'm an atheist, but I often accompany them to church and wait downstairs until the service is over. Down in the church basement, with a pad of papers, is when I do some of my best writing.

    Also, I carry some 'on the go' stories everywhere, and when I get inspiration I just write it down immediately.
     
  7. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    But writing 2000 words is a pretty good achievement. It's great to try harder and focus more, write more, but at the same time, if you have a condition, then you have certain limitations and there're times when it might also be good to be satisfied with what you can achieve within your limitations, and just be proud of yourself for it instead of pushing too hard for me. (note: I don't mean you shouldn't push to improve, but there's pushing and then there's going too far)

    I'm afraid I have no advice, but I just wanna say - 2000 words really is a lot and you should be proud of yourself :)
     
  8. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    436
    Likes Received:
    18
    One thing I've found is that if I push really hard, I can do something, but I can't keep it up and I end up hating anything associated with it. Still haven't been able to bring myself to look over my NaNoWriMo project, for example, after how miserable I got from trying to write so much in such a short time (I think I lasted about a week and a half into the month).

    Executive dysfunction is better worked with or around than outright fought.
     
  9. Darkkin
    Offline

    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    515
    Location:
    Following the footprints in the sand...
    Roughly figured, trying to complete 2,000 to 3,000 words per day, say four to five days per week, you could theoretically finish a standard length novel in about two and a half months. Is this going to happen? With life what it is and the human love of distraction and procrastination, reality tells us no. 2,000 words is about six pages and a lot can happen in six pages. Listen to your limits and don't get frustrated when you can't do more than say 5,000 words in one sitting. Writing is not a race, it's journey, half of the wonder of it is how we get there, not how quickly. Just have a little faith.

    - Darkkin, the Tedious
     
  10. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    436
    Likes Received:
    18
    I vary quite a bit depending on inspiration, but on average, I'd say I finish 1-2 pages when I set down to write on a story. But many stories languish abandoned for years, only to get picked up again and finally finished. I can't keep my mind to one story, so I don't bother trying. I just figure some of them will end up finished eventually, and those will generally be the best-written ones.
     
  11. pkiri
    Offline

    pkiri New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm sorry it took me a little while to respond! Thanks everyone for the advice :) i found that having the TV noise in the background helped me a lot, too, so I think I'll keep trying to do that. Music works pretty well too, and I'll try taking a walk around the block if I get stuck. Thanks everyone again for your posts.
     
  12. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    ADHD/AADD: I was not diagnosed until adulthood and after younger family members were diagnosed. Doctor prescribed medications. One wanted to start me on anti-depressants! Thanks. Not depressed. The next put me on ADHD meds. Had me so drugged down I couldn't do anything. Didn't like the state my head was in. Couldn't write at all and that was pretty much a death sentence as far as I was concerned. Stopped all meds and started working on other means to control the wanderlust in my brain ... like exercise: weight lifting, walking/jogging/running, cycling, swimming ... whatever the weather will allow. But brains are as unique as the people that are connected to them. What works for one person may not do Jack for anyone else. The real trick is to embrace your condition. Whatever causes your brain distraction, concentrate on it. Force yourself to always be aware of it. Don't fight against your condition; make your condition work for you. It gives you a special and unique insight into the world that "normal" people cannot see. That is your gift so don't be shy about sharing it with the world!
     
  13. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Even before I was diagnosed, I knew there was something "off" about the way my brain worked. I would take copious notes during lectures - and then never look at them. Writing them down was how I learned the material. I always had to do homework with the TV on - I couldn't settle down to it otherwise. Once I got into junior high school, I quit fighting those 'unique' learning methods and went with them, because they always worked - I wouldn't have been a "A" student if I'd tried to mold into 'normal' methods.
     
  14. Darkkin
    Offline

    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    515
    Location:
    Following the footprints in the sand...
    One thing I have noticed is that when people found out I have ADHD, they tended to treat me like I couldn't understand anything, couldn't possibly learn. Because of a label they didn't look any deeper, they didn't realize that if I read something once, I wouldn't forget it. Memory made me an excellent student without having to try, I got bored and would read. Despite good grades teachers still said, 'You're studying the wrong way. Why are you doing it that way? You'll never amount to anything...' I gave up on trying to understand the world and worked on understanding and accepting myself.

    Medications made me ill, suffocated my mind, luckily when I started swimming, the drug that I was on was considered a stimulant and therefore gave me an advantage. I could keep swimming and go off the medication or just stay on it. I leapt at the chance to break free. I learned what my limits were, where my strengths and weaknesses lay. This might sound weird, but I really got to know my brain. I escaped the prescribed mold of normalcy and found what really worked for me. Because I learned to understand my nature, I work with it not against it.

    I know from experience that many of those afflicted with AD and autism spectrum disorders possess brighter, more inquisitive minds. We think faster and more abstractly, and when we find something we truly enjoy we focus completely, letting the world fall to the wayside. I speak from experience because both my brother and sister are similarly affected. We look at life from a different perspective because we don't even know where the box is to begin with.

    I know distractions can cause frustration, but they can also be a surprising source of inspiration and insight. The key is finding a balance that works.

    - Darkkin, the Tedious
     
  15. penlopephx
    Offline

    penlopephx New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    The Moon
    You know, I'm not add myself my husband and long term partner (eight years! I've been writing with him for eight years!) in crime is. However I have learning disability a few other conditions going on with that. My major problem is concentrating long enough to tell a complete story. I never felt like I had the faculties to share a full story. Either I couldn't think of something to write to extend the story or I'd look at the work and it seemed like the words aren't smooth. I can't explain it better than that. It's like I can see the jagged edges of a story and when I'd read it back it felt infantile. Incredibly frustrating and I still can't get sometimes. What I find that works for me is focusing on one chapter at a time. It's a lot easier to keep a focus on 1,000 words than 100,000 thousand. I don't move beyond a chapter until I've written it, re-written it and then edited it. (I'm a little obsessive. I know) but that doesn't really do anything else for things like genetics and medications which are very, very useful.
     
  16. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    436
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exactly.

    An autistic woman gave an analogy I've found quite helpful in understanding my own mind - she compares herself to a stork. Storks aren't power-flappers (like for example geese), instead they ride thermals to get where they're going. If the thermals are going the right way, they can get there with little or no effort. If not, they'll have a hard time of it, if they make it at all.

    I don't know how much this analogy works with ADHD, but it definitely fits with autism. I have to be in the right 'state' in order to do something. If not, it's a real struggle. So what I've learnt is, rather than practicing power flapping, which I'll never be good at, I instead work on getting very good at finding the right thermals. Sometimes I can do a specific activity that inspires me to something else - for example, watching Big Cat Diaries inspires me to work on my two stories that involve big cats. Other times, I just have to be ready to act when the thermals happen to come.
     

Share This Page