Maverick with File Cards
I don’t think I’ll ever write anything longer than a blog post. I can hardly sit still long enough. Even if my seat is pinned in the chair, my mind flits out the window and soars with the hawks.
Committed to the computer, I type half of a great introductory sentence, then jump up and go to the kitchen to heat my tea, hoping the other half of that idea will be there when I get back. It never is.
I jump up to close closets and cabinets. I can’t help myself, they sort of call me. ADDs can’t screen out incoming stimuli – even from motionless cabinet doors. My ADD mind is a restless, impulsive maverick who underestimates time consumption.
Attention Deficit is a new label for me but I’m learning how to deal with it, even to enjoy it. I must scratch those mental itches so I turn up the creative and write. Experts on ADD remind us we are tenacious and brave. We are smart and imaginative.
I’m learning to accept feelings of incompetence both ADDs and writers suffer, but I can’t afford to claim this ADD label as a liability. I need to live – and write – in the paradigm of ADD as an asset. I’m managing the hyperactive creatures within me, improving life by creating beauty from chaos.
ADD shows up in my writings.
Sometimes my writing is a mystery to others. Problem: when I write a sentence I think I’ve expressed a thought. Each word chosen for that sentence is a concept encompassing great detail, a symbol of deep meaning. However, people in my writing critique group have gently pointed out that many paragraphs could emerge from that single sentence. On the other hand, sometimes such extreme level of detail erupts from within the author that the reader is overwhelmed and shuts down or turns away.
However, during writing critique group meetings my attention never strays. I am captivated and delve into the flow of analysis and enjoy someone else’s fiction or each line of a draft poem. Deep concentration and conversation like this is actually restful to my ADD mind.
Managing these traits to thrive as a writer.
One problem – all options seem valid. Whether that includes events in a story arc or writing tasks I’m in the middle of, my busy ADD mind rides the carousel of all the pretty horses and doesn’t naturally move forward on any single one of them.
However, creating structures helps keep me focused forward as I write. I always hang my car keys on the hook just inside the kitchen because the hook is there. A physical structure.
I’m organizing to be efficient, not pretty, just well enough to function. A yellow 3×5” card is taped to the office wall above the light switch that says, “Stuff is noise.” Decreasing clutter in my writing area and keeping only one writing project (okay, maybe two) on the desk at a time are effective strategies against that sense of overwhelm.
A hanging file on the wall behind me has only three pockets. File folders cleanly labeled with black marker make each one neat and available. If I want to turn around and peek at another project, the distraction doesn’t last long. I know precisely where it belongs – not on top of another horizontal stack of notebooks on top of another filing cabinet.
Magazines references are stored vertically – upright in containers. If the first one or two lay down, I blink and they have multiplied like rabbits into families of magazines. I also store any magazine with a particularly inspirational article open to that page. That saves distraction time remembering if it was in Poets & Writers or Writers’ Digest.
Pens and pencils. I’ve selected five (5) of my best pens, those that flow well and fit my hand. And I lay one across the page of active writing if I do leave the room so I know where to engage when I return.
A kitchen timer is set to 40-minute intervals when I write, unless I’m speed drafting, then to 15-minute bits. The trouble with distraction is I don’t know I’ve just been distracted. My mind has left the room. I think I remember every vivid detail but don’t know what I don’t know. The timer brings me back.
Most of my great ideas don’t get accomplished. No external punishment or enticement can motivate me to finish a task uninterrupted. So many competing ‘things’ battle for attention that I fall short. When I get discouraged and feel like a failure, someone kindly reminds me to think playfully and the self-condemnation block is broken.
Moving forward. Feedback please.
It seems reasonable and attainable to aim for 600 – 700 words to deliver a clear idea. I think my next project will be an anthology of blog entries.
Carol B”s Voice (blog)
Family Feasts: pies & people (book on Amazon)