Tuesday, February 19

Listing for Focus

You know the saying, "You would lose your head if it wasn't attached"?  Well, that saying was quite possibly designed for me.  I have often argued that there's some sort of "faulty wiring" in my brain... where it makes certain kinds of connections, it just doesn't quite fire properly.  As a kid, I constantly forgot my school stuff at home--gym shoes, gym clothes, homework assignments, papers printed and left on the printer, textbooks, lunch.  Everything you could possibly need, I forgot at least once.  Throughout middle and high school my mother would run stuff to school with a glare and a scolding, wondering how I could possibly forget such things.  Thankfully, I went to college only an hour and some change away, so when I would come home to visit and leave medicine, glasses, my phone... my parents would again, with a sigh and roll of the eyes meet me halfway to get me my things.

Psych majors are always diagnosing ourselves.  My best friends in college and I even laid around one evening when most of us were currently in Abnormal Psych and assigned ourselves each with a personality disorder--hey, it helped us learn the material!  But I also realized (as I had considered through high school as well, but my mom adamantly disagreed) that I might, in fact, have ADHD.  My mom thought because I wasn't hyperactive, I didn't qualify.  In my junior year of college I took her to a seminar on adult ADHD and throughout the entire thing she would look at me with wide eyes and knowing looks.  I never got officially diagnosed, but I started trying to find ways to cope with it, one of which was to start making lists.  I don't always necessarily follow my lists, but writing things out, detailing what I need to do, or should bring to something, or absolutely have to remember seems to help that faulty part of my brain work more like it should.

I suspect my difficulty focusing on any one thing for long periods of time contributes to my shifting attention in my writing.  I know several people encouraged me to force myself to focus on one story until it's completed, but trying to do so frustrates me when I get bored or stuck.  I think switching between my different worlds will work for me so long as I continue to make progress on each and provided I don't start anything NEW until I complete one of the stories I am working on.

So my writing list for today:
  • Read the beginning of a story I am reading for a friend.  I am considering this as part of my writing list because I need to include more reading into my free-time schedule.  I used to always be reading some book or another, but in the past few years I barely read three books in a year and I think my lack of reading has affected my writing skills.  So incorporating more reading into my life should hopefully give my writing a little bump.
  • Outline the rest of Story#1.  The first maybe third of the book is written, but I think making an outline (like my lists) will help me focus on where the story needs to go to get to the ending that is already partially written.
  • Continue setting up Story#1 in Storyist.  Storyist is an amazing program that I would encourage all Mac-using writers to look into.  I am a very visual person and it allows me to create character profiles and set images for each character, outline using "notecards," and it even gives you tips on how your manuscript should be setup for publication submission.  As a still rather new and young writer, I find the program to be extremely helpful.
  • Finish typing what is already hand-written for Story#1.  I very much prefer to write by hand.  I don't always, but whenever I do hit a block typing, I sometimes switch to pen and paper and that helps.


  1. You might be a poet or essayist and simply not know it. Believe me, it's a possibility --I'm an old poet and essayist and I know plenty. ADHD didn't exist when I was 23, but Brautigan, Ferlinghetti and Patchen did. I learned the inability to close a story was no handicap. I get the impression you're a very logical thinker, though. And I sure like how you write. My compliments and best wishes.

  2. You're a smart cookie. Whether or not you have ADHD, you've found an effective way to address and overcome the issues you were experiencing. I was forgetful when I was young, too, and the only way I could keep on top of things was to write myself notes and mark deadlines and activities on a calendar. Now that I'm old, people kinda expect me to be forgetful...

    Kudos to you for being able to juggle multiple writing projects at the same time. I'll bet that approach keeps you on your toes.

  3. When I was in Waldorf teacher training, I learned that Rudolf Steiner suggests reminding yourself of things using "I" thoughts. For example, when you set your phone down, you think "I am setting my phone on the side table by the door" or whatever. It especially helps for those things you put away for "safekeeping" and never see again.

  4. Geo--thank you so much! I used to write poetry more.. in high school and some in college, but I find that something has to really get into my head and bug me to get me to write out poetry... otherwise it just stays in my head.

    Susan--Even making notes and lists I still forget things fairly often. I think it will be a relief to be old.. I will finally have an excuse! ; ] As for writing multiple projects, it keeps me interested.

    Shell--I've never heard that before. That's a really interesting idea. I will have to remember (hah) to try to do that. Thanks!


Tell me whatcha think.