The other day, I read something wonderful that was shared by a high school friend of mine on Facebook. It was a description of what having ADD is like from that person’s personal perspective. I have never been officially diagnosed with ADD, but I fit the diagnostic criteria. Because my idea of ADD was always a small hyperactive boy, I assumed I was screwed up a little but not disordered.
But whenever people really explain what ADD feels like, I always think my brain makes sense in a way that makes me happy. I have lived with people who don’t have major focusing problems my whole life, and in comparison I’ve always felt a little crazy. It’s easier to identify as lazy or stubborn than to admit that you can’t regulate your focus no matter how hard you try. At least, that’s true for me. 🙂
My favorite two excerpts from the post:
It’s not that I can’t “pay attention”, it’s that I’m paying attention to almost everything around me and can’t consciously order which is “most important” to pay attention to fast enough, or sometimes at all.
Also, a huge factor with having ADD is that you feel like your brain is constantly in overdrive. I slur my words half the time because my mind has already moved on to the next point I want to make but I haven’t finished making the point I’m already on.
How is this relevant to my writing? Well, today I reached my goal. I hit 60,000 words in 23 days, not 30, and it is amazing. More than I thought I was possible of accomplishing. But I still have to finish the story, and then revision will begin.
My main problem with revision is that my story isn’t really finished, not the way it is, because in the beginning I was writing to write. My goal was a word count, not a cohesive plot, and when I did start plotting I was just trying to get the words out as quickly as possible. So I know that I dropped entire story lines as I went, leaving characters off to one side while I rushed along, and not bothering to even use the same names throughout for the same characters.
The explanation of ADD that I referenced above not only sounds like me in some ways that people outside my head would recognize (word slurring, anyone?). It also caught my attention at exactly the right time to help me understand why my story feels terrifyingly bad, in a way that makes me uncomfortable with letting anyone read it.
I could only write this story by getting it down in a rush. I couldn’t slow down or double-check things because then I wouldn’t have been writing, and when I did occasionally try to revisit long-abandoned pages, I felt like I was going to get lost in the thousands and thousands of words. I couldn’t sift through them as I scrolled, and I couldn’t reread the entire book just to find the one scene I wanted. This story was too much for me once I had written it.
Now that it exists, I believe that I can revise it once it is finished. I will make lists and sort out what I didn’t yet know as I was writing, and with the help of my first early reader (my partner) I will sort out just how much is missing to make it coherent. But until that point, I don’t think that it is a story, in the way that most people think of novels. It is filled with dangling scenes that connect to nothing, and contradictions between pages when I couldn’t stop writing to go back and check a reference.
Somehow, I feel like those problems–overarching, important structural problems–come out of the way that I struggle to focus, in which case I must not be the only person who writes as I do. I won’t really be able to find that comforting until I have a complete novel, but maybe at that point I will feel like I am in good company with other writers that write first and think later.
Today’s word count: 2,050
Total word count: 60,452
Today’s excerpt: “You can’t honestly believe that it’s okay to leave me thinking that we might work it out somehow! Especially if you’re going right back to your boyfriend, who by the way is me, so that you can have your safe, comfortable life and keep me in your back pocket for another two years. You are not that person. I wouldn’t love someone who was genuinely cruel that way.”
“I-I’m not trying to be cruel,” she stammered, bewildered by his outburst. She’d been having a quiet bit of sun, and now they were fighting. How did that happen?