Saturday, April 3, 2010

WADD -- Writers' Attention Deficit Disorder

When I started writing over a year ago, I never thought I'd be able to come up with anything to write. I always wanted to be a writer, I could just never come up with anything substantial. My issue was never the characters as I've never had an issue coming up with people to write about (I attribute this to a steady diet of soap operas from a very young age). The problem has always been coming up with something for the characters to do. Thanks to my incredibly creative writing group, writing prompts, and my love of reading, the ideas are a little easier to come by. The problem now? I am pretty sure that I am developing ADD.

Currently in the writing queue are two novels (which I started a year ago), a short story, and my flash fiction story. Other projects requiring attention are my NaNoWriMo novel which needs editing, and short story for the anthology I am editing this summer which still needs developed. This may sound like a lot, but the number of projects isn't the issue. The issue at hand is that I cannot focus long enough to finish any one task.

Surely one reason for this is the lack of time that I have to devote to my new-found obsession. If I am lucky, I have maybe 1 to 1.5 hours daily to write. I am seldom that lucky. After getting up at the crack of dawn with my early bird son, running around like a maniac all day, and working all afternoon and into the night, sitting down at ten o'clock is not the easiest thing to accomplish. In fact, there are many times that I actually fall asleep as soon as I set the old laptop on my lap. Luckily, there have not been any laptop fatalities from this action. So, exhaustion is definitely one reason why I seem to be accumulating more projects and finishing none.

Another reason for this inability to focus is that I have too many ideas. The plight of most writers is writer's block. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to write but not being able to come up with any ideas. I am fortunate in that this is not my issue. But, probably because I'm new at the whole writing thing, ideas flow fast and furious. Despite my attempts to push them off, they demand be written. You may think I am joking, but once an idea for a story takes up residence in your mind, you have no choice but to, if nothing else, jot down at least some of the idea. If you don't the concept kicks around inside of your head and drives you nuts. So, you just add another story to the queue and lament that it also is partial and nowhere close to complete. What can I say? It is a vicious cycle.

So, the question is, how do I remedy this issue? I wish I knew. A few techniques in particular have proven to be somewhat helpful. Outlining has been key. The only way that I was able to finish my NaNo novel was that I thought about it ahead of time, created an outline of events and stuck it for the thirty days of NaNoWriMo. I have tried this tactic with the two novels and have had less success as I keep deviating from the outline and moving the stories into new directions. But the frame of the outline has helped.

Also, I have been paying as little attention to the new ideas as possible. I try to write down the idea, perhaps also in outline form, and then put it aside for a later date. The ideas still ping around in my head, but the fact that I at least have something written down seems to help. If nothing else, I won't forget the idea when I finally have time to address it.

And, last, I am trying to write more. This, of course, is the hardest part. There has been a lot more coffee and a little less sleep the last few weeks as I attempt to do this, but it is still a struggle. But, to appropriate a phrase I have heard many many times (and believe wholeheartedly), nothing worth having comes easy.