By Kyle Perkins
So, a lot of people don’t seem to understand the implications of having ADHD and being an author at the same time. It leads to a lot of discomfort in friendships, people thinking you are lazy, and many other things I will catalogue in this article. I know a lot of people say, “Oh, I’m SOOOOOO ADHD! LOL” Or “My friends all say I’m so OCD about how I line my books on the shelf” all while forgetting there really are people out there that these conditions ACTUALLY affect. So, I have decided to highlight a few of the ways having ADHD truly fucks with you as a writer.
1. No one actually gets it.
People toss around the term nowadays almost as if it is some badge of honor, a “quirky” attribute of their personality, not fully realizing the implications of having the condition, all while trivializing it to the point of dismissal. Some people seem to think ADHD is made up, and it’s just “kids being kids”. Well, I am not a kid. I am 30 years old and it isn’t something you “just grow out of.” The problem is, there is so much stigma around it that no one really understands what it is. This creates hurt feelings because people don’t understand why you behave the way you do, and think you are purposely trying to hurt or ignore them… Which….
2. We’re not ignoring you.
We’re ignoring everyone. Do you understand how hard it is to tell someone “I’ve just uh.. Got really into geocaching for the last few days and nothing else has really mattered,” after not speaking to a person for a week? They don’t get it and think they are being dismissed or ignored for something trivial. They think you prioritize a “dumb little hobby” over them, and see it as unfair, or that you don’t give a fuck about them.. Truth is, they’re right… To a degree. See, everyone thinks ADHD means that we get distracted every five seconds whenever the wind changes, but actually, we focus TOO MUCH on other shit when we should be doing something else. Yes, I know I SHOULD be writing and finishing my next novel, but I CAN’T until I finish modding Fallout 4. If I don’t, it will sit in the back of my mind and eat away at me until it becomes too much to bear, and I won’t get any writing done anyway, due to thinking of something else. That’s because…
3. We REALLY get into things.
Even this article itself, it was just an impulse, but I HAD to do it. If I didn’t, I couldn’t go back to modding Fallout 4, which means even more time away from writing. See the problem? We get new hobbies every few weeks to a few months that we get REALLY into, to the point of exhaustion. Once we are done with it, we drop it like yesterday’s newspaper completely uninterested to the point that it confuses the living fuck out of the people around you. “Hey, Kyle. I thought you were really into gardening, what happened to all of your plants?” “Oh, dude. I have been getting really into coffee lately. Have you ever had coffee made with a french press? It’s so good.” So…
4. People see you as lazy or fickle.
Which, I suppose they are right, at least about you being fickle. Lazy? Hardly. We actually have too much energy. Energy we put into stupid shit that doesn’t matter, and yes, even I call some of the hobbies stupid, but I have to do them. We do hobbies overboard, and quickly. What a normal person will spend months or years doing in a certain hobby, we do in days or weeks. The reason? We do it all at once. We get super into something and use ALL of our time and resources diving in. We get so into it that we suck out all of the fun, and once we have exhausted every outcome of the hobby, we are onto something else as quickly as it started. That said, when it comes to writing..
5. You let your fans down.
You end up making promises you can’t keep due to it not being appropriate to say “I’ll have a book done whenever.” We write in spurts, which means I can sit down and write 150k words, but then not write anything for a month because I’m over it. Being able to give someone a timeline for when I’ll have a book done? Ha. I don’t even know. So usually, I just say something like, “In a month, I think.” and hope that will do.
Fans start to think you are ignoring them, or have grown tired of them, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. We love our fans and the people that help us immensely. But to always be “on” and ready to receive messages and socialize, it’s just something we can’t do. It has become so much of a problem that it’s easier to just be up all night and sleep all day to avoid people so that I don’t have to explain why I ignored social media for 12 hours because I was making a beer can robot bird feeder at 4 am.
Plus, you can only handle so much “you should be writing.” Shit, you think I don’t know that? I should be doing a lot of things, but I can’t because right now, I’m really into learning about how modern dog breeds came to be. That’s all part of the condition, but..
6. When you’re “on”, you’re fucking on.
ADHD seriously has its upsides. When it is go time, and we get into writing, stand back. We crank shit out. We are always overflowing with ideas and creativity because it’s how we are wired. When you were in school learning your multiplication tables, I had already learned it during another session of intense “Go through all of your books for the school year because why not” so I had nothing to do. I just instead created these worlds in my head and actually lived there. Eight hours of school was nothing and flew by because I was somewhere else. It’s a defense mechanism that keeps us sane when we are FORCED to be somewhere or do something that normal people can do with ease. While it helps us cope, it makes us geared towards telling stories. While most people daydream, or have to think of a story, we just pull from experience. Worlds we HAD to live in to get by another mundane day at work, or in school. Most people can day dream and snap out of it quickly, but as you’ve learned, everything we do, we go hard. Our daydreams can last a solid eight fucking hours, or enough for a few books at a time. So for me, just a trip to the shower is another potential book. A shower is a break from whatever hobby I was doing, so therefore, I have to create alternate realities to cope with standing there when I want to be creating a new orchid hybrid.