Writing and ADHD

About three weeks ago I was diagnosed with ADHD. Last Sunday I was put on Adderall.

I’m 44 years old. I’ve lived my whole life with this disorder and didn’t know it. I’ve also been writing since I was 8, and I started seriously writing in 2013. In addition to that, I’m a high school teacher.

I’d noticed I’d been having a lot of trouble, both with writing and with grading. I love being a teacher. Teaching is fun and richly rewarding. I also love writing, which is, again, fun and richly rewarding. But there were parts of each that I just wasn’t doing on a timely or efficient basis. For example, I discovered over the years that I’m a binge person. I can’t write for an hour. I can write for ten hours. I can’t grade for an hour, but I can grade all day.

Unfortunately my life isn’t set up to make it so that I have huge chunks of time available to write or grade. I usually have a little bit here or there.

I tried to come home and start writing at 5 and then write til dinner at 7, eat at 7, and do something with my family for the rest of the evening. What happened was I either didn’t stop writing, or I couldn’t get to the point of writing because I have to ‘set the stage’ first and that took until 6:30 and then it was too late. So I dropped that. And the same thing would happen with grading.

The reason I opted for medication was because I want to be able to write or grade for an hour or two most every day. I don’t want to be so hyperfocused on either that I can’t do anything else, and I don’t want to fear the hyperfocus so much that I goof around and waste my time.

Now me goofing around and wasting my time doesn’t mean I never write. A little less than 2 weeks ago I wrote 8800 words in one day. It took me 14 hours. I haven’t written a thing since. I’ve completed two manuscripts, each novel-length, and am working on a third — I’m about 52% of the way through. But I’d be a hell of a lot more productive if I could be normal.

I wonder how many writers have ADHD and that’s why they can’t meet deadlines? Because deadlines are really hard for me, and for a lot of people with ADHD. I worry about trad-publishing because of deadlines. If I ever indie-publish, I probably won’t actually set a publish date until the book is ready to go, just so that I don’t miss the deadline.

I’m hoping the Adderall helps. So far it’s been really horrid, but maybe I’ll adjust. And if I don’t, there’s always Ritalin. To be honest, I’m kind of afraid of the Adderall. It’s an amphetamine. That’s like speed. I don’t like stimulants–I don’t even drink coffee. But if it helps, I’ll do it, even though the Adderall makes me feel crappy and gives me mood swings and, while it’s in my system, completely kills my appetite, which comes back with a vengeance once the medication wears off.

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