Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Too Many ADHD Voices in My Head

The Various Voices of Douglas Cootey?
If you follow my blog, then you know I've been working on writing a book for quite some time. Actually, I've finished quite a few of them. I've got a handful of picture book manuscripts finished, as well as a middle grade novel. They weren't very good so I put them aside. I also began working on an ADHD book last year as well as a Depression book. I started a new middle grade novel, too. Of course, there's this blog, and soon I will blog on an additional website as well as a SciFi entertainment review site, both paid gigs. And I write in a journal. Two of them. There's also the freelance web content work I do. I also dump my mind into Path on a daily basis, as well as other social networks.

I write.

A lot.

However, there was only so much time in any given day, so when something had to give in my schedule it was usually my personal book projects. It should have been Twitter, but Twitter was easy and writing books was not. So I decided to focus on one book instead a bunch of them simultaneously, and I am now happily progressing on my Depression book. With me so far?

This article today isn't about juggling multiple assignments, but it is about the downsides of Multi-Irons Syndrome. I discovered I wasn't working with my ADHD, but against it. Because of that, my writing voices were cross-pollinating.

How was I working against my AD/HD?

My blogs are cheeky yet concise. My novels are whimsical & descriptive. My technical writing is fact filled and sales-speaky. My journals are often pretentious. And my social media writing mood is all over the map. Writers refer to this as voice. Each type of writing has a style, and within that style each author has his or her own unique voice—the sound you hear in your head as you read. Establishing a strong and individual voice is paramount to success as a writer. It was something that I strove for, except that when I worked on multiple projects at a time my technical writing became cheeky & whimsical, my novels became mechanical, and my journals and blogs were all over the map. My voices were getting mixed up.

The problem was that I was having a hard time switching gears. Aside from doing too much—which I handled successfully by pruning projects—my voices were commingling because I couldn't switch from one style of writing to another fast enough. They overlapped.

Switching gears is a process that is quite hard for me. One way that ADHD affects me is that I get stuck on one train of thought. It takes so much effort to get into that gear that when I need to switch gears it can be a slow and discomforting process. I limped along, but I had to re-write my work a lot.

Last month I decided to do an experiment and prewrote all my blogs in the first week of February. Then I scheduled them to be published later. Next, I focused on my freelance gigs. Then I worked on my book. I completed every writing task, and I didn't have voice issues. By working on one type of writing at a time, my voice stayed the same. But by staying in one voice at a time, I got more work done because I had to switch gears less.

Most of you aren't writers, so this article may not apply directly to you. However, I hope that you come away with some ideas on how to work with your ADHD instead of against it. Sometimes ADHD fear of failure drives us to work doggedly on projects that aren't well suited for us. Or we spend so much energy fighting with ourselves to get something done that we don't leave any mental room for improvement. Still others focus on improving methodology so much that they can't ever finish anything. ADHD can create a myopia of focus unless we learn how we work best.

Next time you find yourself working against yourself, go for a walk, talk out loud if you need to, and figure out how you work best, then make changes to accomodate your strengths. Does that sound easier said than done? It isn't. All of us have the ability to do this. We just need to make time for it. Then you can find your own unique voice and be the best you.