One of the biggest challenges I have as an aspiring writer is to keep focus when I write. This is mainly due to the fact that I have ADD, which makes it hard for me to concentrate on tasks. Whatever I do, even if it’s something I like, I have a hard time doing it for more than five minutes without getting restless.
Over the years I’ve come up with different strategies to deal with my short attention span. One of those that work best for me, especially when writing, is the one I will explain in this post.
But first of all , a disclaimer: When it comes to how people deal with ADD/ADHD, everyone is different. What works for one person might not work at all for someone else. This strategy works for me and hopefully it will for you but there is no guarantee.
Moving on. So this strategy I have when writing is actually inspired by what a guy with ADHD once told me about how he gets tasks done despite having a very short attention span.
He said that he tries to do things in 15-minutes period. If for example he needs to do the dishes and do his taxes, he just switches between these two tasks every 15 minutes so that he doesn’t get bored. That way he actually gets things done and he has increased his productivity in every area of his life.
Inspired by his idea of doing things in short intervals I came up with my own way of increasing my writing productivity. But first let me explain how I used to write:
I would sit down in front of my computer and try to focus all my energy on my writing until I got at least one page down. Usually it ended with me getting very restless after having written down between one fourth to half a page and then I would be so utterly frustrated with the whole thing that I didn’t write anything more for the rest of the day.
Then I decided to try to do things in intervals. So here is how I write now:
First I sit in front of my computer and open the Word document I’m working on. I focus on writing three paragrafs and then I do something else that takes a short period of time. It can be something like doing the dishes, walking the dog, doing jumping jacks etc.
I’ve found that it’s best if it’s something active rather than passive. If you read a book or watch funny cat videos, it’s more likely that you will become sluggish and distracted. But doing something more active like exercising or playing games will get you going and also boost dopamine, which is the very brain substance people with ADHD/ADD have too little of.
When I’m done doing that other thing I go back to writing. I write three paragrafs, then I do something else again. I kept intervaling like that until I’ve reached my daily goal of writing one page.
My writing productivity has definitely increased since I started to do things this way. Now I have very little trouble sticking to my writing schedule and sometimes I even write more than I planned.
I really like this strategy because you can adapt it after your own personality and attention span. Feel free to try it and tell me in the comments how it works for you! 🙂