Being a Writer With ADHD



For years, I had a nameless problem. Okay, that’s partially true. I had a lot of names for it – none of them polite and most aimed at myself.

When I could force myself to sit down and write, I was fine — for five to fifteen minutes. Somewhere in that time, my fingers would pause, I’d think, “Hmmm, what’s the word I’m looking for?” The next thing I knew, I’d eaten a sandwich, cleaned the bathroom, and solved world hunger. Having fought so hard to plant my ass in the chair the first time, my writing plans were shot for the day. Twice was impossible.

I’ve been around authors professionally all my adult life and I’d never heard anyone talk about that. Maybe none of them ever encountered it? They’d all overcome it and never thought about it again? By the time authors were around me, they were in professional, best-face-forward mode. I couldn’t pull anyone aside and ask, because I was in that mode too.

For years, I’d hear well-meaning people ask authors, “Where do you get your ideas?” I could tell they were rolling their eyes somewhere out of sight in their heads. It always seemed like a ridiculous question to me too. Ten minutes on a good walk and I can brainstorm at least a trilogy.

I didn’t ask my question because I didn’t want that look aimed at me. “How to you sit down and write?” Sounds stupid – just plain stupid. Bend your legs over the front of a chair, rest your ass on the cushion, raise your arms… Duh.

All the tools and knowledge a person needed, I had it. But, I was lazy, or crazy, or something. I bought books about will-power, procrastination, organization, and every other ‘tion that came across the self-help or creativity sections of the bookstore. I am an organizational ninja now – but it didn’t solve my problem.

One day, in my shrink session, (I’m American, we all have shrinks) she asked if I’d ever read Driven to Distraction. I rolled my eyes. I knew the book – it was a bestseller when it came out and still had strong market share for a book its age. But it’s about ADHD. I leaned forward and cocked my head. “Just between you and me, does that even exist?” I still wasn’t sure I believed it, but I swung by B&N and grabbed the book.

Holy shit. That’s all I have to say about the book. Holy Shit.

We set up a neuro-psych appointment at Children’s Hospital for nine months in the future. They were very busy and short a doctor. And, yes, I played with the blocks and thoroughly enjoyed the cartoons in the waiting room when I got there.

After six grueling hours of testing and another week of waiting, I was diagnosed with ADHD. They gave me medication and my whole world changed. Some of the issues and habits I’ve built up over the years are still around, but at least those are things I can change and control. I like control.

There are still coping things I do to make sure I’m on track and doing what I really want to do with my life. The main thing I did is probably the craziest. To make sure I had to write, I quit my job, moved to the beach, and tied my entire livelihood to pumping out words. I don’t write, I don’t eat. Talk about motivation. Don’t do that. My stomach’s not growling, but the pressure is a little crazy. It’s even crazier that writing in this blog is my break from writing.

Anyway, all that to say that I’ll also be posting about the systems I’ve put in place, apps I use, and organizational ideas I’ve picked up over the years. Just in case they are helpful to anyone out there.

The only reason I’m telling this part of my story is because when I hear someone say, “If I can do this, anyone can do it,” it pisses me off. How the hell do they know? They don’t know me!

With that said – I don’t know you. But I know me and how screwed up I am. ADHD is only the tip of the iceberg. And… if I can make this work, anyone can.

Stay tuned,


(Still in dire need of a tag-line. I’m thinking of “Get to Work” – but that just doesn’t seem right after this post.)

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