Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chasing Rainbows for the Information Pot of Gold

Yesterday was a day filled with addiction. Ah, the sweet glow of the screen. The endless stream of information just a tap away in my iPad. Twitter. Facebook. Links, links, links!

Rainbow over Wasatch Front

I woke up very under the weather. Perhaps it was because Mother Nature had a bad case of Psuedo ADHD this month—not sure which season it was.

"Ooh! I want Spring!
Ooh! Ooh! I want more snow!
Ooh! I'll do both!
Ooh! Ooh! A rainbow!"

She's been like a newborn puppy frolicking about after butterflies, though truth be told, the butterflies have had the good sense to wait for Mother Nature to make her mind up this year before making an appearance.

Yes, I realize that the caterpillars have to arrive first. Don't mess with my metaphor.

At any rate, yesterday I was not as frolicsome as a puppy or as flittery as a butterfly. Instead, my head swum uncertainly in my skull, as if it were trying to get comfortable but needed to turn around a few times to find just the right spot. I just parked myself on the couch, laughed at the idea of showering and shaving, and curled up in a fetal position with my iPad and Kindle as the center of my universe for a few hours.

I am feeling fine now, but I worry about later.

You see, I'm an information junkie.

There are links between ADHD and addiction. I wrote about this six years ago regarding a study that showed links between ADD and drug addicts' Dopamine levels. It also tied in with Depression.

There is a happy dance of endorphins in my mind whenever I find something new. So I hunt and hunt for it, always looking for something that gives that rush of endorphins. I don't see it that way at the time. I'm just tapping link after link after link trying to stave off boredom, but in essence I am just trying to get my fix.

That is, I used to be like that. One of the things that I discovered during this year of my Splintered Mind Project was that being an info junkie wreaked havoc with my efforts to squeeze writing into my free time. What time is left when there is so much news to read? I clearly needed to kick the habit. Yet, what would I replace that yearning for reading with? I had been trying to kick the habit for years.

It was around this time last year that I discovered an interesting thing. I was fresh on my way to write my thousand page chapter book for children when I began to wonder what most authors did with their time. So many of them claimed to write 1000 words per day. To amateurs that sounds like a lot, but a typical blog for me here is 900 words. I was blogging two 600 word blogs a week for 1000 words might might take an hour or two. What did the authors do with the other hours in their day?

While I studied what things they tweeted and blogged about to paint a picture in my mind on how they organized their time, I began to notice that none of the authors were news junkies like myself. They were book junkies. In fact, many of these authors were chewing through books like a five year old through a pack of gum. Could I do the same, but with more restraint? Over the course of the year, I limited my news reading to one hour a day and began reading and studying more and more books. At the same time, I pushed myself to write more and more as well.

In the end, I found a constructive way to feed my need for NEW without losing control of it. It's important to keep abreast of current events, but it's not something that should consume our entire day. ADHD and info addiction doesn't have to be a detriment. We just need to be willing to unlearn bad habits and redirect our boundless energies into constructive pursuits. We need to remember that there is no satisfaction at the end of a news junky's rainbow. There is only a need for more news.

Even though I was too sick to do more than read news, poke about Facebook & Twitter, and kill zombies with plants yesterday, after a while I grew bored with it all. No relapse for me. That's what six months of training will do. I picked up a book about writing books, then put a little bit of time into my own book before the head spinning thing returned. Despite spending hours being sick and stationary, I feel really good about yesterday. Now to make this one even better.

Next time: Family Life and how four kids and a wife traipse across my writing plans like a platoon of grunts on D-day.

Follow me on Twitter for my ADHD escapades at @SplinteredMind or my novel writing project over at @DouglasCootey. And if you're a glutton for punishment you can friend me on Facebook as well.