I have ADHD. I was diagnosed in elementary school, and have been coming up with brain hacks to help myself ever since.
While the way my brain functions can help with writing in many different ways, from hyper focusing on a project to making connections other people wouldn’t, sometimes it proves a challenge to stay focused and organized. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of tips for managing your writing project when you have ADHD.
Find a method of organizing that works for you.
Take notes before you start a project, or use post it notes so outlining feels more tactical. Personally, I like to mindmap.
Create small milestones
Divide writing your book into small, easy to manage goals, like writing a thousand words a day or one chapter. Eventually, all of those little easy accomplishments will add up to one big book.
Write in a notebook
Some of us (cough cough me) have pretty terrible handwriting, but I’ve found that writing in a notebook forces my brain to slow down. Sometimes it seems to move at breakneck speed, and I’m not as careful about what I’m writing as I should be. Handwriting my chapters first slows down my brain so I can be a little more careful about what I’m putting on paper.
Know what kind of space you work best at
It’s nearly impossible for me to focus if my desk has clutter on it. I always try to keep the surface of my workspace clutter-free, except for my notebook and a glass of water. If I’m working outside the house, I try to work at a library or a quiet cafe, but I prioritize places where I know I can get a big table where my laptop isn’t hanging off the edges. Get to know yourself and the kind of workspace you need, and be vocal and diligent about maintaining it.
Leave your phone in a different room and let your word processor fill your whole computer screen. Avoid going on the internet when you’re in the middle of a writing session. Sometimes that takes just bringing your notebook to the cafe instead of your laptop. Sometimes it takes a focus app like Forest and Freedom.
Write with people
If you know that writing alone means you’re more productive, maybe this tip isn’t for you. But for some of us, writing with an accountability buddy can mean a more productive writing session. Find someone as serious about writing as you are and try out a session or two together. You might find that watching someone else focus motivates you to be more focused. Or you might find that you stop too often to chat with them. Figure out what works for you, and be open to change and honesty about what you need.
Keep a Journal
When I feel extra distracted, I write my non book related thoughts in a journal. It’s almost like a cleaning, so when I get back to my project I’m holding nothing else in my mind.
Remember to be gentle with yourself
Learning how to work with your brain, whether you have ADHD or not, is a lifelong task, and processes that worked once might not work later on. Be open to change, listen to yourself when a system isn’t working for you anymore, and be vocal about your needs.
With that in mind, happy writing!