Scatterbrained

Pancakes-and-Scrambled-Eggs-Face-by-Simple-Ordinary-LivesCan you have ADD only in regards to one thing, like cooking or on-line shopping or car maintenance, or in my case perhaps, writing? I am starting to wonder about myself as a writer. Well, I suppose I have always wondered about myself as a writer, thus this blog. I’ve chalked up a lot to fear and the inner-critic and self-destructive tendencies and inadequacy and lack of resources, just to name a few. But I’m starting to think it’s something else. Something so obvious I’ve missed it all these years. I think I have writer’s ADD, or WADD, if you will.

Here are some of my problems (skip this post if you are sick of hearing about other people’s problems and you have enough of your own):

1) I am unorganized with written materials. I have snippets of chapters or stories on pieces of paper that sit in piles with old bills, spelling tests my kids brought home in second grade, handouts from the pediatrician on various vaccines, cartoons my mother cut out of the paper and sent me, recipes for healthy chocolate cake (a ridiculous oxymoron, I know), pay stubs, downloaded articles on tips for stubborn stains or how to cook beets in a pressure cooker, return addresses I ripped off of envelopes so I’d be able to send Christmas cards some day. Then there are notebooks scattered about the house that hold timelines, notes, ideas, and paragraphs, interspersed with grocery lists or phone numbers for the oil company. Paper is my love, my nemesis. I want to organize it, control it, but it has the better of me.

2) I can’t focus. I write, “It’s 1966” and suddenly I am Googling pop-culture, timelines, fashion, politics, music, or Broadway shows in 1966. Which lead me to Simon and Garfunkel and the Batman TV series and Sweet Charity, and then I’m Gone Girl (which I really want to read but I’m waiting for it to come out in paperback).

3) I have no schedule. People say, make a schedule, but like Gandhi, I quietly resist. I starve myself of a schedule. A dear friend of mine created a great tool for tracking my writing and getting me to organize myself and it sits on my desktop gathering gigabytes of cobwebs. I open it now and then, change dates and add color and monkey around with it for half an hour to make it look pretty, during which time I could actually be writing.

4) I know there are other things I could do like carrying around tiny notebooks or a mini tape recorder or index cards to record funny overheard dialogue at Stop & Shop, ideas that pop into my head like Instagram, memories that unravel from their grey cocoons and take brilliant flight before my very eyes. But when the muse strikes I am without these things. I have a purse the size of a gym bag and most times I can’t find a pencil.

Are there others out there suffering from WADD? Is there a pill for this? A support group? A WADD coach? Or am I simply delusional, lazy, genetically screwed, maybe all of the above?

I might be doomed. Then again, I might write a book about it.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Scatterbrained

  1. Susan

    WADD! Perfect acronym! For number 2: http://macfreedom.com/ For number 1: open a folder on desktop, call it Stuff, dump all the files with snippets into it and then forget about the file except every once in a while when you stroll through it (I love the idea of cobwebs within the data). For number 3: instead of schedule, try just writing every chance you get for as long as you can stand it, and the scheduling will thus take care of itself. For number 4: Trust to your memory; the important stuff will float back in when needed and if it doesn’t there will be something else to float in its place equally useful. Note that I did 2 before 1 here because I’ve decided following numerical order (instead of worrying I have to go in sequence) has also freed me up to worry less. Worry less, write more. Go WADD!!

  2. WSW

    I hate doing this, and I hate the person who suggested it, and I hate myself for suggesting it, BUT try writing in a notebook. At first it’s disorienting and overwhelming, but I have found that it gets the thoughts flowing without distractions. Also, and I saved the big suck for last, you might try enrolling in a continuing ed class. The deadlines and the assignments provide instant focus — it has been a revelation for me and I am infinitely more productive for it. As for the papers, you can either sit down and sort through it or just trash the stack. Canning the lot is strangely liberating and provides the opportunity to start from scratch.

    Now, there’s all the advice you never wanted all in one day.

    • I started to go back to my notebook per your advice and found myself writing lots of notes and even some writerly goals for myself. Good call. Deadlines, yes. I searched for adult ed classes and came up short. Need to dig around more for that one. Thanks for being that person!

  3. Thank god someone has made the diagnosis. Let recovery begin.

  4. smerk

    Perhaps you should talk with Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew or Dr. Fred or whomever about your WADD. (But you might want to come up with a different name – have you googled WADD?)

    Assuming, however, that they don’t know how to help, then by all means, write a book about it, go on Letterman or Oprah, and set up a web site (with a DONATIONS WELCOME link prominently displayed).

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