Here's How ADHD Totally Helps Fuel a Creative Fire
ADHD is my superpower.
Don’t ask me to change the oil on my truck. No matter how many times my husband patiently demonstrates the steps, I’m just not interested enough to stay focused on the task. My executive function skills are adorably horrid, so I can’t make it from point A to point B without an extremely detailed to-do list. And sometimes my mouth works faster than my brain, which means I might interrupt during a conversion and not even realize I did it. So maybe there are a few negatives, but why beat myself down when I can build myself up?
ADHD is my superpower. This is how ADHD turns me into a creative badass.
1. Hyper-focus is my friend
Hyper-focus is like the polar opposite of trying to remember the steps for that oil change I am never going to do because I don’t care. If I am hyper-focused, it means I am doing something I love and know I can rock the final product. I wrote a book in a year on three-hours of sleep a night because it had to be finished. Wanna go hang out tonight minus the kiddos? Sorry, I have to finish this essay I’m working on. My child wants cereal for dinner because Mama’s working and she knows deadlines mean I don’t come up for air until I hit "send" on an email to the editor.
2. All the plates in the air
I never have just one thing to do. My normal is juggling all the plates at the same time and still kicking ass. Right now, I’m homeschooling my autistic daughter, freelancing my booty off, pitching and writing for various outlets, working on the behind-the-scenes for a new podcast I am launching soon called The Byline, trying to get back on a regular workout schedule and the rest of the WAHM basics, like keeping the apartment clean enough to earn my adulting sticker for the day.
OK, it’s a solid "maybe" on that last one. The bottom line is that I am the most productive and creative when I have everything going on at once, which is exactly why I loved working as a newspaper reporter as much as I love what I do now.
3. Under pressure
Speaking of deadlines, I live for them. Seriously. I had three months to write a 30-page paper in college for a required religion class — and it was the only grade for the class, so hello, pressure! Did I start it the minute it was assigned? Nope. I have learned since my diagnosis that time is my enemy because it gives me the chance to second-, third- and fourth-guess my writing. Anytime I started early on a paper, I’d end up scrapping it at the eleventh hour and starting over from scratch two days before it was due, anyway. For a person with ADHD, procrastination is an art that leaves us relaxed until we realize it’s 48 hours to go time, so we produce and thrive on the deadline rush because we have no other choice.
Oh, and yeah, I got the A.
4. Dude, where’s my car?
I have been known to lose my car in mall parking lots. I never remember where I parked or what door I entered, so sometimes, the nice mall security guards take pity on me and drive me around until I scream triumphantly that my car is right there, where I said it was. But what I miss from the big picture, I make up for with the details. I see the shades of color that will add to a character description. I hear the nuances and rhythm of speech and conversation that will make a story come alive when passing by strangers on the street. Just don’t ask me where I put my car keys. I’ll find them eventually.
5. No time for doubts
Because I operate best with multiple projects going at the same time, I don’t have the time to waste feeling sorry for myself when an editor passes on a pitch or turns down a completed essay. I can't throw in the towel because my book wasn’t an NYT best-seller. And I refuse to believe I’m busting my ass for anything short of making it happen. The minute I get a rejection, I check my contact list to see which outlet is a fit for the piece I’m trying to place, and I dive right back in with a new pitch. This is how I recently placed an essay about my late father with two years' worth of rejections. I kept pushing because I know that every rejection will bring me one step closer to the next publication and making my dreams come true.
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