Okay, so can we all acknowledge that neurodivergence and adult ADHD are real? I do not want to waste time validating the deficiency of norepinephrine in my brain or any other factors that contribute to my being in the neurodivergent category. Just trust me. I have been diagnosed as multiply neurodivergent with genetic innate and acquired factors.
Being neurodivergent is a blessing and a curse, it truly is. Having not been diagnosed with ADHD until my college years seems crazy to me now, but having been at this for over two decades, I can understand it now. It may seem crazy that someone who actually has ADHD went undiagnosed in the 90s when it seemed like everyone was being shoved into the category. However, the majority of those people were masculine presenting or cis males. Also, many of them were just active and not ADHD, but that is a discussion for another day.
I fall into the combined category – this means that after a lot of tests by actual doctors and not just me seeing some of my habits in ADHD TikToks, I am the proud home to both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive ADHD. So – score.
Now, what does that have to do with me being a writer you may be asking yourself?
Oh, what doesn’t it have to do with me being a writer?
Existing and living with ADHD comes with explicit and seemingly neverending challenges. Adulting with ADHD brings more fun into the game. Being in a long-term, committed relationship, being a mother, having a job. All of these bring new issues and challenges to my neurodivergent mind, some more difficult to overcome than others. Writing and creating, however, it is in a category by themselves.
You may be thinking well if it is such a challenge with your ADHD then don’t do it. That is always an option – but why should I give up the dream I have had since I was a kid and a thing that I am actually somewhat good at and LOVE doing because my mind has different pathways in it that neurotypicals don’t have to deal with?
Of course, I will not stop it – and neither are any of the other wonderfully talented, diverse, and beautiful neurodivergent artists and creators out there. We just have to learn how to navigate it differently – but that is not new to us. That is literally what we do every minute of every day. To some who don’t see people with ADHD often, the fact that those with ADHD are some of the most resilient and adaptable people you will ever know is a foreign idea to them.
It is true, however, and it is because to have any kind of life we have to adapt to the deficiencies in the way our minds operate and figure out ways to function with our ADHD instead of trying to fight it. Many times to do so, ADHD folks will have to come up with workarounds, inner dialogues, or routines that help us to stay productive and focused.
The fact that this can actually lend itself to creativity is researched and scientifically backed. Studies have shown that ADHD adults are more likely to come up with creative, out-of-the-norm solutions or ideas, and often excel at things like creating or performing. This is because our minds work in such a way that thinking ‘outside of the box is generally a normal thinking pathway for us.
The creativity is there. Not only does ADHD help the mind be more creative, but at the end of the day if someone has a talent they have it, no matter the makeup of their mind. I am lucky enough to have a sliver of talent when it comes to writing. For the longest time though, I have fought against my ADHD mind instead of with it and that has led to long gaps in writing, frustration, and annoyance with the profession and myself.
As I continue to work on adapting to my ADHD as opposed to against it, I realize I don’t have to limit that to the “normal” sections of my life. If I can work to adapt my adulting to work with my mind, why can I not do it with the thing I am truly most passionate about? Guess what I can. So many people already have. All I have to do is actually realize that writing makes me happy and is definitely that thing that I am meant to do.
Once that realization hit I began adapting how I create with ADHD instead of how I create despite ADHD. That means taking those same internal observations to create routines and coping mechanisms for everything else to writing. So, how are some of the ways I am changing my writing to be more consistently successful?
I am doing what I have done with every other aspect of my life since I can remember – long before the (admittedly late) ADHD initial diagnosis and all of the subsequent revelations. I am adapting this aspect of myself to function better within the ADHD parameters of my mind. To understand this, there has to be some more boring science talk first.
Like many with ADHD, I am a late chronotype (or night owl). Yes – night owls and morning larks (early chronotypes) are real things – as are the most common and least talked about the middle-of-the-road option intermediate chronotypes (or hummingbirds – I don’t make up the nicknames people I just know them. The chronotype of a person is often mostly influenced by genetics and there is a test to determine that too. If you test for enough neurodivergency in your life, you will likely eventually find out your natural chronotype too.
So to be clear, this is not an insomnia thing, a caffeine thing, or simply a preference. There are differences in circadian rhythms and other factors that play into this aspect of your life. Being an ADHD late chronotype trying to function in the world made for neurotypical early or intermediate chronotypes is especially challenging. It takes – say it with me now – resilience and creative solutions.
Now I am lucky enough to have a supportive and understanding spouse (Hey Amy), and I work a school schedule for my “normal” job. This means that I can work out and experiment with what exactly works for me creatively in a way that many neurodivergents are not able to. Sure there are still bumps and discussions that we have – some very terse and even loud discussions – but there are plenty of people like me out there that don’t have the luxury of someone willing to try and understand and work with the differences in their mind. For that, I am constantly grateful to have her.
For instance, being a night owl, my peak intellectual performance begins around 4 PM – really kicking into gear in the evening after dinner and lasting until AT LEAST midnight or 1 AM. That is not really a workable schedule for a family with a six-year-old during the summer months, especially when the one staying up until 1 AM writing before even starting to think about the bed is the one who has the child during the day.
I have to get up with our daughter and entertain her during the very long and seemingly endless summer days. Completely throwing her into my natural schedule of sleeping from 3 or 4 AM until eleven in the morning or noon is simply not an option. So after trying to work what is normal to me and still get up by 830/9 AM and function with a very rambunctious and talkative six-year-old for a bit, that plan had to be shelved.
What we are doing right now is working so far. I get up at 7:30 or 8 AM with the bug. We have a structure to our week, and let’s be honest that is more for me than for her. We have two days where we go to storytime and have other random adventures. We go to the park, we go to the library and we try to have one day where we chill and take it somewhat easy.
Amy gets off work at 4:30, we have like half an hour to catch up on our days and then we cook and eat dinner. Then Amy takes Ri and generally does something with her and that is my time to get into my next gear. Most nights Amy graciously puts her to bed as well, since I spend the entire day with her. Again, an amazing built-in support system.
Hopefully, I can be set up already so I can jump right into the actual creation portion of writing. Otherwise, a good 30-45 minutes will be spent doing that. Why do I need to set up for that long every day? I am neurodivergent. If you know, no further explanation is necessary. If you don’t know, there is not enough space here to explain it to you.
Then I have to get the playlist booted up. Yes, I am one of those who will claim that I need music to concentrate – and again before you scoff, scientific backing. I can’t just put on anything though, it needs to be a short specific playlist of songs I know so well that they simply play in my head without grabbing my attention, otherwise it is a whole other issue. Currently, the SIX The Musical (both) Live On Opening Night & Original Cast Recording, SVN, and Vicki Manser are heavy in the rotation. As in they are the entire rotation.
Once I have the setup and the music, I can get to business. This means that I am up and writing from 6:30/7 PM until 11/12 PM. Sure by the time I get to bed, wind down, and fall asleep it is 2 or later, and I am getting up with Ri by 8:30 or so in the morning. Let’s face it, I really never get more than fiveish hours of sleep anyway – I am simply not wired that way. This routine is working so far, and I am really stoked and happy with it.
The first portion of this new routine was actually organizing my site to have separate pages for different topics. Because I know all the experts say the best way to blog is to have a niche – but I can’t have just one. Then I get bored and stop writing. So. This blog is now literally set up like my mind with different pages for each one of the things I simultaneously obsess over at any point in the day.
Now that the blog is set how I want it, I am here, writing. I am not focusing on getting back into content writing for the moment. It is too much for my mind to try and do content and personally satisfying writing and I choose the latter. First, get my blogging on track and work on some of the other creative writing that makes me happy.
Next, work on submissions to magazines – both fiction and nonfiction topics. Get the blogs up regularly. Work on the book that every writer has in process. Go from there. I am truly excited and positive that maybe just maybe we have figured out this creating with ADHD thing for me in a way that will not overwhelm or discourage me.
Also, kudos if you stuck through to this point. This is kind of a freethought flow writing post which is something I usually do offline and then try to make it more neurotypical before posting. This often leads to me throwing up my hands and walking away because it is time-consuming, hard, and soul-crushing. So here is another portion of the new routine – not conforming to a neurotypical writing style because I don’t want people to see the way my mind works.
This is it – how my mind works. It is usually rambly and long and sometimes goes around twelve bends before it comes to a conclusion. Those are usually the moments when I have my best or most innovative ideas. Why would I not want people to see that side of me? So here we go. I hope you guys stick with me – I think that you will really enjoy the ride.
As always – that is how I see it…
Until next time.