How to Find Writerly Concentration With an ADD Mind


I used to think that procrastination was the biggest problem I had as a writer. But now I’ve come to realize that it’s my attention span.

Perhaps procrastination is a side effect of ADD, or it’s simply a bad habit that happens to be very compatible with somebody who is distracted at the drop of a hat.

While I was growing up and through college, I timed my space outs really well, at points in the lecture where a story was being told or somebody asked a question. It never affected the information I gathered or my exam results.

Of course, I took many breaks from studying and had the most epic conversations of my life on those breaks. But my grades always reflected my ability and the time I put into those courses.

So no complaints.

Then smart phones came along and made me stupid.

I’ve noticed in the not even 7 years I’ve had my smart phone and can surf the internet, and check my email and Facebook whenever I want, that my attention span has plummeted.

That nasty little tool makes it way too easy to get distracted from something that actually matters – like writing a novel.

The hours of uninterrupted concentration I enjoyed with the collection of stories and my first novel, I don’t have the attention span for it now.

And it has really freaked me out. Progress on the 2nd novel has gotten much slower.

But I’m still making progress.

So what to do?

1) A really great habit to pick up is meditation.

I stuck with it for 6 months, and that was when I finally picked up some steam with The Shepherd and the Courtesan, the 2nd book in the Ella Bandita stories. My attention span increased and concentration became more effortless.

However, I’ve let my meditation practice drop and I plan on picking it up again because it’s so good for me on so many levels.

But in the meantime, I haven’t dropped writing the novel with the drop in my meditation practice.

2) Work within the nature of your ADD mind.

That is a habit I picked up during 6 months of daily meditation. I allow the distraction until I can’t stand it anymore.

In other words, if I get distracted, I allow myself to venture off down another avenue, because I notice I get bored or irritated quickly when Facebooking, surfing the Internet, or a Netflix show. (Yes, I have Netflix on my phone. I’m such an addict.)

When that happens, I go back to my piece and really don’t have too much trouble getting back in the groove.

When I get distracted again, I started working on those short and sweet blogs, when I need a break from my novel or NetFlix or Facebook (which is not a satisfying pursuit anymore) or whatever else made me look for a squirrel. In fact, I found this habit the most practical, because I will go back to it.

And here I’ve written a lovely little blog on a break from my novel.

Piece of cake!