Wednesday, 28 May 2014

KB Gardener: ADD and the Author

Hi there

My Wednesday series of Writing; The Alphabet continues today with 'A' is for Adversity.  I imagine that one of the worst problems for any author is not to be able to concentrate on their work, and, with this in mind I asked fellow author KB Gardener to explain a little of how one might cope with ADD.

ADD and the Author

        A few weeks back, during a discussion of ADD somewhere on FB, the question came up on how ADD affects authors. Bella Settarra asked if anyone would be interested in writing a blog post on their experiences with being an author and having ADD and I said I would. She asked me to have it done by May 26th.

        So here it is, May 26th, and I finally remembered that I volunteered to do the post! Does that tell you how ADD affects me as an author? Now, I can only talk for myself. The term ADD takes in a wide variety of behavioral and emotional disorders and the experience of every person with ADD will be different. (BTW, as I was writing that last sentence, I heard a noise and stopped to look out the window.  I noticed that it is raining. I was about to watch the rain for a bit when I reminded myself I was in the middle of a blog post about ADD... and so it goes.)

        I have what is called “distractable” ADD. That's the type where I'll start something and then remember something else I need to do... so I go and do it. In the middle of that, I'll get called away—perhaps a phone call, perhaps to help my wife, perhaps something else—and by the time I've done that, I'll be off doing something completely different, having forgot the first two tasks I started.

        How does this impact me as a writer? I am jealous of people who can regularly write six to seven thousand words in a day.  I count a three thousand word day a success. Sometimes my writing is done in a series of two to three hundred word dashes interspersed with all the other things I need to do—or that my crazy brain makes me do.

         Now, there are times when I can focus so much on my writing that I block out all else and I'll find that I've written a great amount (three to four thousand words) without realizing how much time has gone by. Thankfully, I have a tolerant and understanding wife who is patient with me. We also have a cordless phone system with intercom built in, in case she needs to get my attention.

        (Pause to go make myself something to eat for lunch and to listen to the rain for a bit while I gather my thoughts.)

        ADD (or, at least, my ADD) does not exist in a vacuum, so I also have some OCD tendencies which impact my writing. I cannot leave misspelled words words stay misspelled for long. The squiggly red lines LibreOffice draws under them are just too distracting, so I am constantly going back and correcting misspellings as well as grammatical errors that are highlighted.

        I am also OCD about ensuring my word counts are accurate, even though I know they are just an approximation—a mile marker of sorts. I used to obsess over chapter headings because I didn't like that they would influence the word count so I refined mine until they count as only one word each.  All this while realizing I didn't have to worry about it.

        There is one thing that I do believe my ADD and OCD have made me good at—editing, or more precisely, proofreading. When I read someone else's work, or even my writing after I've been away from if for a while, typos just leap out at me. Just ask some of my author friends. I'll PM them when I see it, so that they can correct their writing—even if it's just a FB post—but I'll never call them out on it in public. That's just not good manners!

        Now, all of what I've written above is from the perspective of someone who has ADD and is not taking medication for it. It's not that I don't want to, it's that the medication that has given me the best results, Strattera, is an extremely expensive medication. As I'm without a job at this time, I'm also without health insurance, so spending close to $300 a month for one medication is out of the question. Coffee does give me some relief, however, as the caffeine helps to bring my “hot-wired” brain under control.

        I do believe my ADD has slowed my progress with my writing, though. I am sure that, even with things like my wife's health issues last winter, I would have been well on my way to completing my second book by now if not for my ADD. I don't let it get me down, though—I just look forward to the day I can get it back under control and really put my mind to writing.

        Once again, I'd like to stress that these are my observations and they pertain to me only. Every case of ADD, like every person, is different. Your mileage may vary.

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Thank you so much, KB, it is really fascinating to hear what other people are having to cope with.  I wish you all the very best.

Join me again on Friday when my Meet the Author spot features another very talented author, Elle Boone.  Until then, take care and enjoy whatever you are reading and/or writing.   

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