Writing with ADHD: The Struggle

I’ve debated writing this post for some time, as I’m really not sure how to say what I’m about to say. I don’t deny that I have ADHD. I was diagnosed later in life (after defending my dissertation), but my pediatrician wanted me diagnosed when I was seven. My father believed I just needed “more discipline,” and so I was spanked when symptoms manifested. I became adept at masking and appearing neurotypical. Currently, I take medication to help manage my symptoms. Most days, my ADHD is a mild annoyance, but today is not one of those days.

Writing has almost always been a hyperfixation for me. When I had a story to work on, I could write for ten to twelve hours easily, not stopping for food or anything else. Writing always came easy for me, well, creative fiction writing always came easy for me. Academic writing was the challenge. Not because it was hard, but because the strict expectation that I adhere to a singular form made writing boring. Research was something I fixated on. Working on my series, The Adventures of Sam Hain, allowed me to combine two things that allow me to let my brain do what it does.

Today, my executive function and ability to focus are just not there. I’ve tried writing in a different genre and a different preparation style for a side project. Why? I had hoped that the novelty of new genre, new prep style, and new point-of-view character would spur me forward. And it has been. For the last six days, I’ve been writing furiously and making great progress. Today, unfortunately, I can’t focus on anything. It’s hard to describe what it feels like when my brain recognizes something I can do, and then my body just doesn’t do.

What happens during this time? Long story short, my brain instantly plots every step needed to accomplish a task. Let me put that into perspective. Most days for myself, and for most people, the task of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would break down as follows: (1) Go to kitchen, (2) Get peanut butter, jelly, bread, two knives, and a plate, (3) put peanut butter on one slice of bread and jelly on the other, (4) put slices of bread together with PB & J on the inside, and (5) eat. On days like today, that process looks like this: (1) stand up, (2) turn toward kitchen, (3) walk to kitchen, (4) open drawer, (5) get knives, (6) place knives on counter, (7) open cupboard, (8) get peanut butter, (9) place PB on counter, (10) walk to fridge, (11) open fridge, (12) see three types of jelly, (13) choose one type of jelly, (14) get that jelly, (15) take jelly to cupboard, (16) find bread…etc.

And by the time my mind has run through these steps, it gets tired and overwhelmed, and as a result nothing happens. I sit. Hours pass. Nothing happens. It sucks. It’s hard. It’s a struggle. Some days are like this, even on medication. It’s part of being who I am. And that’s part of why I shared this. It’s easy to use any form of social media to project the image of an idealized version of myself. However, I think it’s more important to be real and to be honest. I struggle with my ADHD all days. Some days, I win. Some days, I don’t. Most days, it’s something I can manage. Days like today, I’m happy if I can manage to hold my head above water. Tomorrow may be a better day. Tomorrow may be more of the same. But I keep going.

Promotional Hype

My debut novel, Liam’s Doom, is on sale at all major and minor retail outlets from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to Bookshop.org. I request that you support Bookshop.org, as their site supports local and independent bookstores. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through my webstore.

The paperback version of Carmilla’s Ghost can be pre-ordered at AmazonBookshop.org and at Barnes & Noble. Currently, eBook pre-orders are only available at Amazon and through my webstore.

Also, you can find my serialized prequel novel Blood/Lust on my website. New chapters go live at noon each Sunday!