Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Vignettes of Life Inside an ADHD Brain

So here I sit, getting ready to write something; nay, determined to write something.

What I sat down here to write... is actually about my experience of standing in the kitchen earlier, cooking breakfast. And while cooking, my brain slid into its typical "creative overdrive" and I actually "wrote" (inside my head) six full articles in the time it took to fry up some sausage for breakfast.

You see, I can never actually just sit down and write. I do all my best writing and brainstorming, while engaged in something other than writing and brainstorming.

I think scientists actually have a name for that. Non-parallel thinking? Divergent thinking?

I dunno, I have always called it "Bacon Creativity."

So here I sit, getting ready to write something... and now I notice a hair from my beard is irritating the corner of my right nostril... which reminds me that I should go trim my beard which is getting a bit shaggy.


So I abandon the writing and go off and trim my beard because... personal grooming, and shit.

But that's not the point. The reason I do it now is because I am well aware that if I stay in front of the computer long enough to write this, by the time I am done I will have forgotten all about the shaggy beard... and I will not remember again till I catch a glimpse of my reflection somewhere/sometime when I will have neither scissors nor mirror handy.

It's how my brain works. Maybe it looks chaotic, but I like to think I am working with this "thing," rather than against it.

But to get back to the start....

.... I stood in the kitchen, feverishly taking notes on small pieces of paper... writing down and outlining ideas for articles and blog posts. Even though that may sound like a distraction, dangerous or even nonsense-- it is actually a way of  making the most of my time... the ideas would be lost forever, if I didn't take time to write them down... as they happen.

That said... even as I stood there, writing down all these thoughts and feeling pretty good because they would not be lost (as they would have been in the "old days," before I gained a thorough understanding of my cognitive processes)... there was also an underlying sadness... a sadness at the knowing that even though I managed to "capture" these fleeting creative ideas, odds are the pieces of paper would never get further than to join their 100's of compadres living in a box on my desk.

And there's the rub. Sure, I have created a "system" that helps me not lose good writing (and other creative) ideas, but I almost never actually seem to have the time to sit down for a few contiguous hours to turn any one idea into an actual article.

To be honest, the fact that today is the 13th of January and I have actually managed to write and publish two complete articles during this young calendar year is a small miracle.

I have enough material to publish 500 articles in 2016.

If I didn't have to worry about "making a living," I'd probably write them. At least I like to tell myself that. Alas, I only get paid a few cents for writing... so it's unlikely that I will reach the end of 2016 with more than 10-12 articles written, and maybe 30-40 blog posts. Because I like electricity. And running water.

Actually, let's make that a small "focus experiment." I'll point back here in my 2017 New Year's post and we'll see how I did. I'll be curious to see if my prediction holds.

See how I just "digressed" again? I think the phrase-- often used by writers-- "But I digress" was coined by someone with chronic ADHD.

Of course, writing these  words was a sidetrack, in and of itself. Now I need to do some actual work...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Another Year... Filled With Distractions?

It's a fresh new year.

I have always tended to spend the first couple of weeks of any new year "taking inventory" of where I am in life and writing myself a series of "status updates." I suppose it is what I do, in lieu of focusing on so-called New Year's Resolutions.

There is something comforting (at least to me) about looking at "what was" and "what is" and examining "How I Am Doing."

I ponder the process and realize that the "comfort" I get from it comes in part from having this little island of "known" in my life... and because it allows me to give myself an occasional "cookie" for having done something pretty well in such a way that my eternal tendency to get distracted didn't completely derail some plan or project I was trying to work through.

Somebody-- who may or may not have been wise-- once said that our tendency to get distracted from our Present as much as anything is the result of not particularly liking that Present. It's more pleasant to go into some distraction from that Present so that's what we do. This would apply to all people, not just those of us living with ADHD.

Of course, the implication there is that we are unhappy with our "Present."

I have sat with that conundrum a number of times, because I definitely like my Present-- getting back to "taking inventory--" and am pretty happy about the life I have managed to create for myself.

But on deeper reflection, there are flies in the proverbial ointment.

Even though I totally like my present... hereunder the odd way I have managed to create multiple micro-businesses that earn income... my "dirty little secret" is that I don't like the way it feels like a draining, 24/7, balls-to-the-wall effort to do enough with those things (which I enjoy) that they can afford our household even the most basic of livings. Feeling like you have to constantly "be working," simply to live "from shut-off notice to shut-off notice" (the self-employed version of "paycheck-to-paycheck") is extraordinarily draining.

And for someone with ADHD... the temptation to UN-focus, and not merely do the human thing of tuning out the difficulties of the Present, but fall prey to ADHD distraction is huge. Almost insurmountable.

Of course, I may simply have unrealistic expectations about "what it takes" to make it, in life. Seems like half the world is struggling to make ends meet.

So anyway, in the process of taking inventory and looking at what 2016 might hold-- what I would like it to hold-- it would seem like I have done a pretty fair job of creating "systems" to help me be as efficient as possible while switching between tasks. Now the challenge just becomes about efficiency, or how to put in about the same amount of time and effort, to come out with an increase in revenues and income.

I'll have to get back with you on how that turns out!