Updated: Mar 15
Creativity has always come easy to me, even if hard work hasn’t. Doctors diagnosed me with ADHD as a kid and have been writing stories for just as long. It’s not always the easiest skill to maintain, but after almost 20 years of experience, I have a few tricks to help get your ADHD brain writing.
The best advice I can give you is to maintain a consistent schedule. No, this doesn’t mean you have to write every day. It just means you have to write semi-regularly. I have a few articles about keeping a consistent writing habit on my website. Keeping a schedule also means giving yourself deadlines that work for you. I give myself a date that I want my draft to be completed and I’ll stick by it.
One of the hardest things about writing sometimes is getting started. For an ADHD brain, the idea of writing a full-fledged novel can be paralyzing, and it is! Therefore, I make to-do lists and checklists for every step of the novel writing process.
Prepping: I will give myself tasks like character profiles, a seven act story structure, a detailed outline, and other things I do to prep a novel. This can change depending on the story or even the type of writer you are.
Drafting: When outlining, it separated different scenes into different bullet points and then each bullet point becomes a new task for me to check off the list. With this method, you can easily track your WIP’s progress as you go.
Editing: After rereading, I will re-outline my WIP and then repeat my drafting process by making edits per scene. I will repeat this step until developmental edits are done.
Finalizing: Once it's time for copy edits and final proofreads, scenes are clumped together into chapters and the book is formatted.
Be sure you’re celebrating every win as it comes! ADHD is not a “lack of focus” disorder, it’s a lack of dopamine. You can trick your body into making dopamine with regular practice and checklists, but the most important part of writing with ADHD is letting yourself win. Did you stay on deadline for this draft? Go get yourself a treat. Did you reach 10,000 or 20,000 or even 30,000 words? Get delivery for dinner. Give yourself a reason to go on.
ADHD is not a disability or a disorder, but another way of thinking. ADHD brains are incredible at weaving new stories together, but the actual action of writing might be harder for us to comprehend. By learning more about your ADHD and giving yourself lifelong accommodations, you can begin to be an expert on writing with ADHD.
I post writing tips on my blog every Tuesday, to include daily writing habits or monthly writing challenges. Sign up with your email today to be notified when I post something new.