I have very recently been diagnosed with adult ADHD.
This was not even remotely a surprise; I’ve known I have a lot of the hallmarks for a while. I can look back at my childhood and see the symptoms of inattentive-type popping up all over the place. But at the time, nobody had any idea. I certainly never had a clue; my younger brother had the hyperactive-type ADHD, and so I thought that’s what it looked like for everyone. It wasn’t until decades later I learned more, thanks to having a number of people in my friendgroup who also have it, and talked about it freely.
It was a revelation, albeit one I didn’t know what to do with for a while. I’ve also since learned that a lot of creative-types tend to fall somewhere in the ADHD realm of neurodivergence, which made me realize that having this thing really wasn’t an excuse for not getting shit done. I just needed to figure out how.
Most ADHDers will tell you that there’s one really good way to motivate us: give us a looming deadline. This essentially gives us a huge stress response that overloads the screwed-up dopamine processors in our brains and puts us into DANGER WILL ROBINSON hyperfocus mode. It’s very effective. It’s also an absolutely wretched way to live.
I am finally seeing a therapist and really gathering together the information I need to figure out how to work around the oddities in my brain wiring. I’ve finally worked out how to trick my brain into productiveness without kicking myself into stress overdrive.
See, the thing that works for me is Other People’s Expectations. I joined into some writing sprints run by a friend of mine for a while, and I found that having her tell me it’s time to write made my brain believe it. Magic! But they weren’t at the best time for my schedule, and she eventually had to stop doing them. I floundered for a while, using my writing group’s meetings as mini-deadlines, but 2k words a week is not gonna cut it, kids. The unexpected death of another good friend in early August left me reeling. I took a few weeks to breathe and grieve.
But dammit, I had deadlines looming.
I finally hit upon the solution: why couldn’t I run writing sprints myself? I’m a moderator on a particularly popular author’s official fansite, and we’ve got a lot of writers kicking around in that fandom. One of the other mods had the same idea, so we’ve partnered for running 3 hours of sprints every weekday. I now have an unknown number of people who expect me to be there, at this time, in this place, and expect me to write. And if they’re not there at the beginning, they could join at any time.
In other words I have harvested the power of peer pressure in order to fuel my writing. And it’s working.
We started last week. Several members joined in with enthusiasm. I had the most productive week of writing…probably ever. I edited, formatted, and submitted a 6400-word short story — and that was just last Monday. The rest of the week, I dug through 9500 words of my novel rewrite. Today kicked off with another excellent day, which gives me a good data point that suggests this thing is going to work in the longer term.
Hot damn, y’all, I can do this thing.