Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of a fruit fly…with a bad crack habit. Here are 10 ways to help you be productive even if OOH! SHINY!
…even if you tend to be a tad ADD. The following tips are what help ME stay focused. I am NOT a doctor or psychologist or ADD expert. I’m a Jedi master, warp engine inspector, and WRITER so you get what you get.
1. Make lists.
I get distracted easily, so a list reminds me of what I need to get accomplished. I make separate lists—housework, fiction, non-fiction, business stuff, global domination using sea monkeys. Then, once I have the list, I do the hardest thing on my writing and business lists FIRST (housework can WAIT).
Like Covey says, Never mistake the urgent for the important.
2. Understand that feelings are pathological liars.
Writing is a profession, not a playpen. Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and The Long Island Medium listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.
But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.
Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.
3. Use The Force…of Self-Discipline
Who cares HOW you get things done, so long as they get done?
I use the “Swiss cheese” approach. I have my list and I take bite after bite after bite until the work is finished. Every book can be written in 250, 500, or 1,000 word bites. I CANNOT work linearly, so I don’t try and yes I was always in trouble in school but public schools were designed to train factory workers and corporate mind slaves, not people who get paid to play with imaginary friends.
4. Mix it up.
I am a writer, wife, entrepreneur, teacher, and mom who has yet to make enough money to afford servants (which sucks), and cats make lousy slaves. This means I get to do most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and housework. Write your 200 words, fold a load of whites, empty the dishwasher, then write another 200 words.
5. Suck it up.
Understand that sometimes we will have to sit for a long time and focus. It’s hard. Whaaaaaaahhhhh, but anyone who thinks being a writer is a fluffy hamster dream has been hanging out with their feelings…and feelings lie, sabotage and will talk you into living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles.
6. Make mean writer friends.
Yes, the Swiss cheese approach works well for people with ADD, and yes, there are times we need to duct tape our a$$es to the chair. This is why I befriend really mean people who kinda scare me. I recommend Piper Bayard, Jenny Hansen and Rachel Funk Heller. On the surface they are funny and sweet and would do anything for a friend…but that’s the issue. They will do anything for a friend, including ordering a hit on my X-Box 360.
7. Ditch loser friends.
We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time. People who have a new dream every other week. I wanna be an astronaut, no a writer, no a vacuum salesman, no a journalist!
Ditch writers (and other people) who believe in luck, not work. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs
blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.
8. Forget perfection.
Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings (because Feelings are a needy boyfriend/girlfriend who don’t understand the world does not revolve around them.) The world doesn’t reward perfectionist; it rewards finishers. Often we lose focus on what we are REALLY doing, because we are getting sidetracked with nitpicking.
Often ADD can be fueled by being too sedentary. Human bodies were not designed to sit on their @$$e$ all day. Ever have a puppy that chews everything and is into everything and short of strapping itself to a rocket is just being a GIANT PAIN IN THE @$$?
How do you get it to behave? Put on roller blades and run puppy until puppy wants to slip into something more comfortable…like a coma. ADD people are human puppies, so stop piddling on the carpet…I mean, go get a little exercise and your focus will generally improve.
10. Drink lots of water.
Human bodies are a hydroelectric system, and water enhances conductivity. Cool writer ideas/thoughts work this way. Muse Pixies of Awesomeness are conducted through your brain to your fingers and they bring the cool story stuff. MPAs like to travel via fairy, or ferry on WATER. They can’t travel if the waterways are too dry and moor them on a cookie sprinkle…and then you can’t focus.
It’s science. Don’t argue.
I hope these tips help, because I am now stranded in NYC, the Mother Land of ADD. It’s like Chuck E. Cheese for adults.
What about you guys? Those of you ADD folk out there who’ve paid attention to this point, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!!
…now back in your hole.
It writes the words or it gets the hose.
What are your thoughts? Struggles? Tips? Words of wisdom. It’s okay. You have permission to get back in your hole after you comment :D.
It rubs the elbow grease on. IT RUBS THE ELBOW GREASE ON! *pets fluffy white dog*
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.
At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
#1 by Heather Wright on July 10, 2013 - 7:23 am
Yikes! You were reading my mind today. #2 and #8 really hit home. Thanks!
#2 by Nicola Young on July 10, 2013 - 7:23 am
Good advice. I agree with the exercise bit. I just spent two days working at home on my own, then today I went for a run. It was lovely to get outside and do some exercise after being couped up for two days.
#3 by julitownsend on July 10, 2013 - 2:18 pm
Mine, too! Social media is eating up my writing time, but it may be because I’m a perfectionist!
#4 by danielocceno on July 17, 2013 - 4:26 pm
I agree; it takes hours from time, like reading the comments from the various blogs for writers. But my social media involvement is involved with the writing industry, even my FACEBOOK. It keeps me writing or the mental focus is on the writing industry, even reading articles of news. One I find fascinating is a successful on-line magazine is going print, while several years ago some of the best in the business went totally on-line. The future for writers wanting income in the writing profession is a cycle of prosperity.
#5 by SrtaSoleada on July 10, 2013 - 7:27 am
The puppy analogy made my day.
#6 by Danielle Sevenwaers on July 10, 2013 - 7:30 am
It’s a good thing I’m a list person, but I think I need to get some angry friends…!
#7 by Veronica on July 10, 2013 - 7:41 am
As much as I’d love to comment, I have go write.
#8 by jeanlauzier on July 10, 2013 - 7:42 am
Someone’s been watching me. *looks around for hidden cameras…I know they’re here somewhere* Excellent post! Now to apply. Have fun in NY. 🙂
#9 by Dennis Langley on July 10, 2013 - 7:45 am
Working in bites seems to be working better than I thought it would. Just need to keep at it.
#10 by Nickie Asher on July 10, 2013 - 7:47 am
#8 is my personal killer. I’ll spend …um…way too much time trying to perfect a story. Of course, I never reach perfection so I have to keep striving for it. Working hard to stop this.
#11 by Nicky Moxey on July 10, 2013 - 7:50 am
On really bad days, I make myself do 5 mins’ worth of work. Then another one. I can do minutes; but a word count target can sometimes overwhelm.
#12 by Shea Ford on July 10, 2013 - 7:52 am
#4 is toughest for me. Especially when one of the boys has a cold. I get most of my writing done at the Y because I can have 2 whole hours to immerse myself in writing mode. But if they’re sick, I can’t go and there is little chance of immersion with them running around the house and threating to gluten my clean silverware. But these are excuses. It’s not as bad as I tell myself. Thanks for kicking my butt! You’re already my #6. 😀
#13 by Britt Skrabanek on July 10, 2013 - 7:53 am
2. Understand that feelings are pathological liars. Seriously! They’re so mouthy all the time, too. : ) Love the tough love, Kristen. I’m a believer in strapping your butt to the chair and getting things done.
#14 by Alexandra Rosas on July 10, 2013 - 7:56 am
Printing this out, taping it up. THANK YOU.
#15 by cindyloucamp on July 10, 2013 - 8:04 am
Ok–laugh out loud at 7:30 a.m. That proves you are a Jedi master. Sea monkey domination is a real possibility given your energy and chutzpah. Thanks for the kick in the butt. I may have to quote you in my syllabus for my senior lit class–“factory workers” and “corporate mind slaves” crack me up. As a ninja master, I bow to your expertise and will definitely kick my “fluffy hamster dreams” to the curb!
#16 by Ruth Hartman Berge on July 10, 2013 - 8:06 am
Totally spot on! #8 is the one I struggle with all the time. Being a paralegal by trade, I go nuts trying to get things perfect and bang my head on the desk when I find a mistake. I found a tool called “Write or Die” that helps with that (writeordie.com). I programmed it to forbid me to backspace. When I recover, I’ll continue working 🙂 Actually, it works great in forcing me to work outside of perfection. Pulls wonderful stuff from the creative side of my brain, too!
#17 by Brenda Harris on July 10, 2013 - 8:10 am
Great post with sound advice; it’s always worked for me. Glad (and not surprised) you didn’t mention popping pills to help ADDs and ADHDs concentrate. Let’s all be hard-core and stay away from these crutches.
#18 by Elizabeth Lee on July 10, 2013 - 8:13 am
OMG. I think I need to read this post 3 times a day.
#19 by Regina Jennings on July 10, 2013 - 8:13 am
Excellent post! And I love your quote about finishing. Brilliant!
#20 by Elke Feuer on July 10, 2013 - 8:20 am
#9 is the hard one for me, so I try to balance it out with eating a healthy, or at least a balanced diet. Some writers thrive on a coffee and chocolate diet. I’m not one of them. Totally agree with you on the water; I can’t function when I’m dehydrated.
Getting enough sleep is a big one for me. I need at least 7 hours. I can do shorter hours for a couple of nights, but that’s it.
I like to use word count targets as mini goals. They don’t have to be done in one sitting, but daily, weekly or monthly.
I love what you said about feelings and not listening to them. I drown them out with music and get to work.
#21 by patrickseanlee on July 10, 2013 - 8:21 am
Great, as usual, K.
I cringed when I began reading the list 😦 #1…I make lists all the time, and then forget where I put them! But #8…I finally figured that one out a few years ago (I think. I had that thought in a list that I misplaced). One can write a book or story to death. Let it be after the umpteenth draft:) Let it fly or crash to the ground.
Yeah, this post goes into my blog and over to Facebook. http://patrickseanlee.blogspot.com.
#22 by Andrea on July 10, 2013 - 8:24 am
Brilliant! As someone with a lot of “job” titles too, including writer, this is a good kick in the @$$. You’re a good mean writer friend – maybe the Jillian Michaels of writing?? I start my day with her DVDs. I think now I’ll also start my day with your blog! Thanks
#23 by adstarrling on July 10, 2013 - 8:24 am
Thank you for a wonderful get-your-ass-into-gear post! I shall pin this to my desktop!
From an anally-retentive, super ADD, obsessive-compulsive, carpet-piddling (not really, my carpets are PRISTINE!) author
#24 by SHulcy on July 10, 2013 - 8:35 am
Aside from being epically funny, your post today really hits the nail on the head. I’m probably a little ADD, just a tad OCD and more than a little AR. ::sigh:: Your points are all really applicable, not just to writing but to anything you care about getting done. “What? You mean it can’t be perfect?!! But, but… if I just work on it for a LITTLE bit longer…” Thanks for these great reminders.
PS: I passed out hand-outs for my seminar on proofreading and copy-editing at LibertyCon 26 in Chattanooga June 28-30 and I listed your blog plus a couple of other very helpful sites: One for correct punctuation in dialog, one for the Chicago Manual of Style (cheap) and yours for all those other questions I can’t answer that really have to do with how to write — not how to make your manuscript as error-free as possible.
#25 by Stephanie Noel on July 10, 2013 - 8:37 am
Awesome post. I need to put this on a wall somewhere in my office!
#26 by MonaKarel on July 10, 2013 - 8:50 am
Spot On! I probably do have ADD, just haven’t slowed down enough to check it out with doctor types. I’d add another suggestion along the lines of perfection. Acknowledge both successes and mistakes, then move on.
#27 by Marilyn Hudson Tucker on July 10, 2013 - 8:51 am
Some of my friends have word-count-day goals, but I prefer to set the timer for one hour. Then I stop and exercise for 10 minutes. Then I set the timer again. That’s on the good days, of course. On the bad days I just have a second glass of wine. Oy! Linking to SARA and SAWG, of course.
#28 by Cathy lentes on July 10, 2013 - 8:52 am
Perfect! Passing this on!
#29 by catemorgan on July 10, 2013 - 9:06 am
“It writes the words or it gets the hose.” *gigglesnort* This is getting strapped to my laptop for maxium effect. You’re awesome sauce, sista.
#30 by patrickseanlee on July 10, 2013 - 9:11 am
@ catemorgan… Another method. Is it possible for one to really nail something to one’s forehead? By God I’d remember it that way:)
#31 by Marla Martenson on July 10, 2013 - 9:22 am
Awesome post! Swiss cheese.. good idea!!!! Love it.
#32 by Jennifer Rose on July 10, 2013 - 9:33 am
Great post! So true about the water. The biggest thing that has calmed my ADHD mind is meditation. In the style of Pema Chodron. Every day. For years.
Now, practically, I think the biggest thing that helps me focus when writing is that I work on an old laptop with NO INTERNET CONNECTION! So when I have that moment of wanting to jump to something else, and perhaps accidentally get lost for a long time, all I can do is look up briefly and then return to my screen. And my phone is across the room, on silent.
For me, I also chew gum incessantly and listen to music (mostly) without words, stay away from caffeine and sugar as much as possible.
#33 by SweetSong on July 10, 2013 - 9:54 am
I love how hilariously quotable you are!
#34 by alicamckennajohnson on July 10, 2013 - 10:16 am
Okay seriously you must stop spying on me and writing about my life! And what do you mean the MPAs don’t like cookie sprinkles, are you sure?? Thank you for the kick in the ass, I am a very emotional person and listen to my feelings a lot- in fact they pick 90% of my meals, which explains a lot …..
#35 by John Hardy Bell on July 10, 2013 - 10:19 am
Your posts truly have become daily inspiration for me. I’m actually at the point of checking my inbox first thing to see if your posts have arrived! So for the love of Hemingway, don’t ever stop!!!
#36 by Rebecca T. Dickinson on July 10, 2013 - 10:21 am
I appreciate this post so much, because I am diagnosed with ADD. I am a teacher assistant who works with students diagnosed with neurological disorders, for example ADHD. I am a mom, soon-to-be graduate student, Graduate Assistant, teacher assistant, writer and luckily I’ve been a journalist. I know how difficult it is for writers to get distracted. Your tips for going to do the laundry or fold clothes then return to work is excellent. Thank you for your insight and great tips! ~ Rebecca
#37 by Stephanie Berget on July 10, 2013 - 10:33 am
The world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards finishers. I love this quote.
#38 by nerveynarcissism on July 10, 2013 - 10:39 am
As a displaced Brooklynite living in Florida, I long for ADD surroundings to calm me down! Good post and a reminder to dust off my Wonder Woman outfit and throw it out!
#39 by NancyS.Goodman on July 10, 2013 - 10:49 am
This is so very true! Thanks for always putting down these thoughts into words. Tweeted
#40 by Laurie Elrod on July 10, 2013 - 10:53 am
What a great post!! #8 hit the bullseye dead on. It took me way too long to finally let go of my manuscript. I most definitely need a few mean friends. Thanks, Kristen!!!
#41 by Phillip McCollum on July 10, 2013 - 10:56 am
Awesome advice. A tactic that has worked well for me in the past are “word count wars” with other authors. All involved have 15 (or whatever) minutes to write, starting at the same time, and then you compare word counts at the end. It helps defeat that perfection problem.
#42 by Kinbaku Gardener on July 10, 2013 - 11:19 am
Thanks for this! I have ADD and I’ve begun to get serious about my writing, so I have bookmarked this for further review.
#43 by Sarah Evans on July 10, 2013 - 11:33 am
I really needed to see this post today. Thank you. 🙂
#44 by Paula Shene on July 10, 2013 - 11:34 am
I needed this today. Looking at the piles that must become something other than one more job to do have exploded seemingly overnight. Too much inattention to priorities is the problem here and thanks for the slap. First shred the list, second make multiple lists and go at ’em.
#45 by pamelacreese on July 10, 2013 - 11:39 am
Another great …. and very applicable… post! Thank you from one ADD hamster to another.
It is always good to recognize bits of one’s ecentricities in another (in your case, very talented and driven) soul. I keep lists (the children joke about the lists), have never worked linearly, have ‘mean’ friends to kick my butt as needed, and def believe a good diet and exercise improves our creativity (not to mention helping keep us functioning on all the other important levels).
I recognize I fall down in the getting rid of non-productive friends category. Some are not so hard to put to the side as ‘casual’ friends; others are much much more difficult. And perfectionism…battled that one ALL my life. Which is why I got the straight A’s, the 4.0 GPA… the lack of friends unless there were tests to be taken. Hmmm…maybe writing is another one of those ‘tests’.
And those dang feelings. Which, since hubby got cancer/died, seem to have taken over the hamster hole. I am tossing them out, bit by bit, because my over-riding desire to WRITE takes precedence over their whining and self-indulgence 🙂
Congrats again on the success of your new book. Write on!
#46 by J on July 10, 2013 - 12:00 pm
Ah, the ADD Writer. This job is both a blessing and curse for us. My best tip is a hard deadline, followed by consequences & rewards. And lists/schedules. I have a love/hate relationship with my schedule. I get so much more done when I have a schedule but the part of me that says “I wanna go play on Facebook!” thinks that schedules suck. But man I love my days when I follow my schedule. My head feels freer, because I know that I’m going to get to it, because it’s on my schedule.
#47 by rishika21 on July 10, 2013 - 12:01 pm
You post was funny and helpful at the same time 🙂
I am not really trying to write a book or anything but the tips you gave can be applied to other activities too so thanks!
#48 by patrickoscheen on July 10, 2013 - 12:38 pm
Wait…you aren’t supposed to live on ice cream and cookie sprinkles???!!! O man! Now you tell me…
#49 by jokelly65 on July 10, 2013 - 12:38 pm
thanks for this post.the voices in my head thank you for helping them escape to a page.
#50 by ellamedler on July 10, 2013 - 12:58 pm
Where have you been hiding all this time? You are my conscience! 🙂
#51 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 10, 2013 - 3:32 pm
They lock me up and let me out for rare visits :D. The whole “protect the general public” thing *rolls eyes*
#52 by Evelyn Puerto on July 10, 2013 - 1:05 pm
You are so right…do the hardest things first, and that gets the momentum going to tackle the rest of the list.
#53 by Cyn Rogalski on July 10, 2013 - 1:20 pm
I can’t believe how much this post rang true for me. I have ADD…(you had me at the title of this post) and at the moment, I have 5 book ideas that were all accepted enthusiastically at Blue Ridge conference.
I have yet to put any of these ideas on paper.
ACK! I need ice cream ….
#54 by Lena Frank on July 10, 2013 - 1:25 pm
An excellent piece! Totally the inspiration I needed to hear while I’m working on Camp NaNo this month.
#55 by Lena Frank on July 10, 2013 - 1:27 pm
Reblogged this on Marlena Frank and commented:
Honestly I really needed to hear this advice! Here’s hoping all my Camp NaNoWriMo friends are inspired to dive back in after reading this.
The world doesn’t reward perfectionists; it rewards finishers.
#56 by Jennifer Spiller on July 10, 2013 - 2:04 pm
Great post. My one caveat would be to remind folks that if ALL THE FEELINGS are actually hindering your whole life, you may need more than bootstraps. So many writers have suffered from mental illness and ended their lives too soon. (And it’s not enough just to see your GP and get a scrip; when things are really bad, you need a good therapist).
It always helps to know we’re not alone in these things.
#57 by elliekristianson on July 10, 2013 - 2:32 pm
Love this post, especially your characterization of feelings and how distracting they can be. Getting to objective is always my ideal, and I “feel” like my writing is better when they are in check. Tamped down. Or simply far enough back in the rear view mirror. :).
#58 by Cate Harris (@Cate_Writer) on July 10, 2013 - 3:12 pm
Whether ADD is an issue for you or not, there’s some great advice here for all writers. Thanks for sharing.
#59 by tomwisk on July 10, 2013 - 4:04 pm
I’m more than a tad ADD, wait, the cute ewsreader from noon news is on, and I find stopping in the middle of getting dressed and other things with ideas for the story I’m working on or some new piece in the future. I’d like to chat more but Kara is on and I’ve got an unrequited crush on her. And I have a real crush on the next story.
#60 by Jean M Cogdell on July 10, 2013 - 4:12 pm
As usual you put a smile on my face. Thanks, I loved “The world doesn’t reward perfectionist; it rewards finishers.”
#61 by kimterry on July 10, 2013 - 4:37 pm
I am balancing two aspects of life, now: writing and teaching summer-school. (Even though SS requires a LOT of snuggling up to my laptop, it’s a wuss contrasted w/a nightmare WIP (in which I’ve managed to repeat variations of the same scenes at least x3!)
#62 by danielocceno on July 10, 2013 - 4:58 pm
I am at the level where I really love what I am doing and it is not just something to do so I write when I can and I still believe that I am in the path of wherein the goals of what I want to accomplish in my life is achievable. I will leave it up to FATE, the monetary rewards. I can let the world read my novel like the “free” downloads on Amazon. I can self-publish anytime. It is the MONEY; I want.
#63 by Sunni on July 10, 2013 - 5:50 pm
In our house we call it Shiny Object Syndrome (S.O.S.). Love your steps to productivity.
#64 by eacieri on July 10, 2013 - 5:54 pm
Thank you Jedi Master for your constant wisdom.
#65 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 10, 2013 - 8:34 pm
You are most welcome, my little padawan :D.
#66 by sharonhughson on July 10, 2013 - 6:00 pm
Thanks for the laughs. Cats are TOTALLY lousy slaves (and grown male children are only slightly more reliable). This is my first full-time week of writing and I’ve managed to put my cheeks in the chair for all my scheduled time and crank out more words than I planned. YAY!
I recommend exercise first thing in the morning (but I’m one of those weird morning people who think the world is loveliest just as the sun is rising) and lists are a must.
Hope you have an awesome time in NYC. My third scheduled hour of writing is here- so TTFN!
#67 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 10, 2013 - 8:33 pm
My @$$ is already worn out. Thanks *hugs*
#68 by Nymph Du Pave on July 10, 2013 - 6:11 pm
Reblogged this on Nymph Du Pave and commented:
Excellent post. I feel inspired to get more writing, housework and workwork done, and maybe even throw in a little brain surgery 😉
I have just started ignoring my feelings and I gotta say, I am a load more productive. Feelings seem to come from the annoying inner brat lol.
#69 by projectechoshadow on July 10, 2013 - 7:07 pm
Reblogged this on Echoshadow.
#70 by Steph Mignon on July 10, 2013 - 7:15 pm
I am obsessed with both your writer voice AND your advice. Thank you for kicking my ass! I so needed to hear these words. Hi ho, Hi ho, It’s back to the hole I go…
#71 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 10, 2013 - 8:33 pm
BACK IN YOUR HOLE! Feel inspired yet? 😀
#72 by Steph Mignon on July 11, 2013 - 11:18 am
Absolutely! I’m seriously so glad I found your blog. Funny, real, inspiration, and most importantly, full of sound advice that gets me WRITING!
#73 by Stacey Haggard Brewer on July 10, 2013 - 8:48 pm
I can’t work linearly either. Once I know what I want my story to look like, I have to list all the key points/events of the story and put them in some kind of order. Very messy otherwise.
#74 by Holly Rutan on July 10, 2013 - 9:35 pm
Something that may not be feasible for everyone, but has worked well for me – remove distractions from your workplace, or get out of the house! The home has ENDLESS diversions for the easily distracted. Cats, husbands, that bathroom that has to be cleaned RIGHT NOW, whether it really does or not…
Start off by making sure you have a good amount of exercise every day. It’s good for you anyway, so even if you don’t help yourself focus, at least you’re helping your heart!
Most of my work is done outside of the home. I find an out of the way corner in a business that doesn’t mind me hanging out – usually the local board game store or a coffee shop – plug in my headphones, turn the volume up, and get writing on my laptop. I’ve weeded my playlist of any song that doesn’t work as background noise, so it’s mostly hard dance music. Anything with a strong vocal track has been removed – voices are a distraction. The function of the music is to energize me and drown out any outside noise, not to be entertainment.
As a note, if i’m at a coffee shop, I buy a drink each hour.
I’ve often contemplated locking myself in the bathroom at home. Ha! For those with the luxury, a small spare room or a really big walk-in closet is a good start. Take everything out of it but your writing surface and a light. Put blackout curtains over any windows. Turn the room lights out and leave your desk light on, so the only thing you can see is your computer. Ask not to be interrupted. Create a sound track if background distractions (cats howling at the door, ect.) make it necessary – preferably music with very few vocals so you aren’t tempted to sing instead of write.
As a note, the above in-house suggestion does pretty well with ADHD kids, as well. I’d switch the hard dance music for classical for them, since they’re more likely to be wriggly. 🙂
#75 by Rivki Silver on July 10, 2013 - 9:54 pm
I’ve seen my friend Renee A Schuls-Jacobson do the hashtag #MyWANA all over the place, but I never really checked it out. Then, today, BAM! I clicked on a suggested blog to follow link and whoa! Here I am! MyWANA! And you’re a Jedi master, too? This is amazing. Maybe I’m easier amused, but you made my night better. Thanks.
I’m not so much ADD, but I do have three small children, which makes it basically impossible to work in a linear fashion. I love the lists, and thanks for the reminder to get back to doing that. Also the exercise and the water. Oh, man. I need those.
Looking forward to reading more! Yay!
#76 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 10, 2013 - 10:59 pm
Toddlers are evil. Cute, but evil. They are masterminds. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE their powers.
#77 by Rivki Silver on July 10, 2013 - 9:54 pm
*easily amused. And tired, too, apparently.
#78 by donnajeanmcdunn on July 10, 2013 - 10:44 pm
Love your advice kristen and I try my best to follow it. I’m into social media because you recommended it in your first two books and now I see, you are updating them. I plan on getting your new book this weekend on my Kindle and will get the updated versions of your other two books when they are released. All this media stuff changes practically overnight and it’s hard for me to keep up. I’m so grateful to you for putting it all together so I can relax a little and do what’s important and that’s write my second book. I just finished the first draft and am now starting to revise it. I love that part the most.
#79 by Prady on July 10, 2013 - 11:18 pm
Another super perfect post- kudos Kristen!! 🙂
#80 by Jodi on July 10, 2013 - 11:30 pm
Yes! Yes! Yes! Amen! And yes! Holy moly you hit the nail right on the head for me. I should get the quote of rewarding finishers framed and put right next to my computer. Thanks!
#81 by Elle Carter Neal on July 11, 2013 - 12:16 am
In addition to Point 10 – Consume Healthy Fats (e.g. coconut oil). Our brains are 60% fat; they won’t work as well without brain food. Hungry writers jump up for a snack and then get just as hyper as the puppy who needed a run. Put down the sugar and eat the fat.
#82 by andrewknighton on July 11, 2013 - 3:05 am
Doing the hardest thing on the list first is critical for me. I saw it beautifully summed up years ago in a classroom poster – if you have to swallow two toads, swallow the big one first.
#83 by catherinewolffe53 on July 11, 2013 - 6:51 am
Finishers – what a concept!! Kristen, you’re fast becoming my writing guru. Thanks for all your help!
#84 by Allyn Stotz on July 11, 2013 - 7:27 am
You know, I read a lot of fellow author blogs but none of them compare to yours! You crack me up and whip me into shape! I look forward to your “ADD” craziness everyday now! And it’s distracting me from my own writing but your posts are worth every second of it!
#85 by Robin on July 11, 2013 - 7:28 am
Funny, I’m not really ADD but wear way too many hats and have to say now that school is out and my kid is home I’m having a tough time sitting down to write at all…my kid is all over my laptop too! But yeah, no excuses! Must learn to take every 15 minutes I get and stop being such a perfectionist….. Oh, anyone interested in the Exercise/Focus idea even more should read a book called Spark, about exercise and the brain–fascinating! Totally explores how exercise is invaluable to people w/ADD, depression, anxiety, everything. That, along with seeing green stuff and nature, is so important to all of us…we need to make the time!
#86 by Dolly Garland on July 11, 2013 - 8:17 am
Just the thing I needed to hear today. I’ve broken up my writing for today in 500 words chunks. Though with the rate of my attention today, 250 might be better!!
#87 by Joe Owens on July 11, 2013 - 8:37 am
While it is not a foolproof system, I am getting older you know, my mind is pretty trained to keep a rolling list of projects I want to complete. With this being summer I have a summer list. Things like the garden, the border fence, new siding, restoring the deck surface and so forth. My writing list includes finish edit so manu can go to Beta Readers by Sept. 1st, then outline new trilogy idea, read blog posts, write blog posts, expand social media. I am trying to incorporate all the good advice you share here Kristen.
#88 by cristyparkersmith on July 11, 2013 - 9:40 am
You’re funny. I “mean” that.
#89 by ronnie c on July 11, 2013 - 9:53 am
wow…what great advice! As a new writer it will come in handy!!!
#90 by KathyMcIntosh on July 11, 2013 - 10:06 am
You must have been hearing my whining! I’m ADD and hate so much of it! But sometimes it helps me be funny and creative and besides it is who I am. Your post is right smack dab on. Making me either love you or hate you … I’ll decide after 200 words.
#91 by J. N. Johnson on July 11, 2013 - 10:21 am
My favourite post yet! so funny…so true…so wise… Got an 8-pack from laughing. Does that count as exercise?
#92 by J. N. Johnson on July 11, 2013 - 10:24 am
…AND i just ‘tweeted’ it. I am learning! except I thought I changed my photo from ‘The Toe’ to my face…*scratches chin*
#93 by gioban on July 11, 2013 - 10:53 am
Very impressive 🙂
#94 by ki pha on July 11, 2013 - 4:14 pm
Reblogged this on doingsomereading and commented:
This will really help me out!
#95 by ki pha on July 11, 2013 - 4:19 pm
Thank you so much! I really needed to read this to get going. 🙂
#96 by jbw0123 on July 11, 2013 - 7:30 pm
Ha ha! The world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards finishers!! My new mantra.
11. Join the WANA hour-a-day tribe. Four of us are checking in every day, some very early in the morning, to make sure we stick to our guns. More mean writer friends, I mean creative supporters, welcome.
#97 by danielocceno on July 11, 2013 - 9:26 pm
When I had a mental block on my current novel, I ended up checking E-mail or FACEBOOK or read articles on Yahoo. I ended up not writing for days. My mind wonders to starting new projects. My solution and I tried it for several days now. It is to use the timer of my cell phone. I know; I have several hours to write so I set the timer for one hour and I work on my novel and after the timer rings, I automatically set it for another hour. I can work on another novel or keep writing until it rings again. It is helping. I am back writing on the novel, which I really want to write and complete. And I have a new novel plotted with character names to be written on partially while I complete the novel of interest.
#98 by LucyPireel on July 12, 2013 - 2:44 am
Great post Kristen! You know, I knew most of these tips but my feelings take over! Aaargh! *does a few jumps to rid herself of excess energy* (Must do my yoga now or else …
But seriously the lists thing. Actually a very good idea, but I suck at making lists and when I do make them I always seem to put them somewhere safe, i.e. can’t find them anymore and forgot what was on them. There has to be a system to make a list for the lists so the lists don’t go to the lists place but next to my laptop, which travels around. Ugh.
I get distracted and have too much to do. Writing, editing, proof-reading, cover designs, blogging, preparing interviews, and then there are the social media obligations (some of them no longer feel like fun, but a thing I must do. How do you cope with that? (Hey, that’s a blog post. No, you can’t borrow that idea, I’m writing it. 🙂 )
Shoot, this comment is a blogpost!
Anyway, I’m almost fully booked on my blog in July, but will write that blog post on this subject and link to yours on July 24th (one of the two available days left in July)
Plus I’ll certainly come back to read more and if you need promotion when your book is re-released, I feature and promote. Check out my blog and take a look.
#99 by dbancroft on July 12, 2013 - 10:14 am
“It writes the words or it gets the hose.”
OH MY GOD. See, this probably seemed like a quippety quip to you, something the muses flang your way in a moment of schmabulosity, but you don’t understand.
Catherine Martin (played by Brooke Smith) is my HERO. “The Silence of the Lambs” is not for everyone — what with the kidnapping and murder and eating of body parts with fava beans and a nice chianti — but Catherine Martin is.
Aaand there’s more, but at a certain point I stop working for my blog and start working for yours, so I’ll continue on mine…
Point is, thank you. I am taping this to the top edge of my laptop screen, and no, it doesn’t make me cower and cringe. It makes me want to go all Catherine Martin and say, “Yeah? Yeah, fine: I’ll write the words… and your little dog too!!!”
#100 by Katie Cross on July 13, 2013 - 1:08 pm
Your posts always inspire me! This has to be one of my favorite blogs. Thanks Kristin!
#101 by Tammy J Rizzo on July 13, 2013 - 1:36 pm
Hi, Kristen! I reblogged this at http://poppycockpublishing.com/tammyjrizzo/10-ways-for-an-add-writer-to-be-ooh-shinyproductive-kristen-lambs-blog/ because I think it’s just so important. I love your blog!
#102 by myralang on July 13, 2013 - 4:28 pm
Yes, yes, yes! I read on some writerly inspiration thing that I should write myself a pep note and leave it wherever it is that I go the most when avoiding writing. My note, written in my daughter’s purple marker, is hanging on my freezer door (because that’s where the ice cream is, of course): “Hey! You! All the talent in the world won’t write your freaking book! Grow up, sit your ass back down, and TELL THE DAMN STORY!!!”
It was wonderfully effective until my son took it down and, liking the large, clear lettering, used it to practice his writing. He now knows how to write “ass” and “damn.” It’s a proud, proud Mommy moment.
Perhaps I will simply print this and stick it up there instead?
Thank you for a great post!
#103 by myralang on July 13, 2013 - 4:33 pm
Reblogged this on Learning Along the Way… and commented:
1. I love this list.
2. I need more mean writer friends.
3. “The world doesn’t reward perfectionists; it rewards finishers.” This needs to be tattooed somewhere across my forearm so that I can see it every time I reach my hands out to write.
Thank you, Kristen Lamb.
#104 by Laura Alton on July 13, 2013 - 9:23 pm
I LOVE # 8 ! So very true. I also am going to use writing lists. I write lists for other parts of my life, and they work! I need to write lists on what I want to get done in my writing. Thank You for posting this.
#105 by dogear6 on July 13, 2013 - 10:08 pm
Excellent points. I pinned this at:
#106 by Diana Beebe on July 15, 2013 - 1:19 pm
Great tips! Thanks, Kristen!
#107 by Karen Dent on July 15, 2013 - 9:50 pm
Loved this blog. Thanks! :)K
#108 by Kyle Newton on July 16, 2013 - 8:12 am
Love the creativity in your writing! I feel inspired and must return to my writer’s hole(Plus, the sunlight is too bright to stay out for long.) Thank you for your advice, I will get my list started!
#109 by Barbara Rae Robinson on July 16, 2013 - 10:58 pm
I need to keep up with my lists and actually use them. They do help me when I remember to look at them.
#110 by Rebecca on July 17, 2013 - 8:05 pm
I’ve been having one of those sugar induced, why-can’t-someone-else-walk-the-dog kind of days and then I read your post. So now I’m nursing a bottle of water, catching up on social media and making side notes for a late night of writing. Thanks for the prod…prompt.
#111 by Ave T. on April 1, 2015 - 1:12 pm
Reblogged this on Falling Down A Hobbit Hole and commented:
Very helpful: definitely needed to read this today. It was a nice wake up call/motivator!
#112 by Loura Shares A Story on October 24, 2016 - 10:54 pm
Lol! Loved your post. Now back to writing!
#113 by lovesstorms on November 6, 2016 - 4:13 am
Reblogged this on Lovesstorms' Stories and commented:
I recently figured out (due to my daughter being diagnosed with borderline ADD) that I probably have it, too. My passion is writing, though. How do I go about re-structuring myself and life to do what I’m passionate about? This is the first article that kicked me in the pants. I’m grateful to this author for pointing the truth out. #2 and #8 definitely hit home (especially #2). I’m already working on #9 and 10. I’ve done #1 for a long time now. Granted, I lose those lists sometimes. lol As for friends, I’m working on finding some mean ones. lol First on the list before any of the others: gain my self-confidence back.What do you think about this article?