10 Ways for an ADD Writer to be OOH! SHINY!…Productive

WANA, Kristen Lamb, We Are Not Alone, WANA International, how to be successful writer

Image via Marie Loughin WANA Commons

In the comments in yesterday’s post, my good pal Richard Snow asked 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’t 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, Chad Carver, 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.

9. Exercise.

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. Off to get my tail to Seattle and hopefully back to Texas! 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 January, 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. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. 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 novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: December’s winner will be announced when I return from Seattle.

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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  1. hilarious and true, as always

  2. Great tips!
    As a recovering perfectionist, #8 is still a tough one for me. And I couldn’t agree with #7 more!

    I just got in a great discussion about Elle Casey after she posted her 2013 writing schedule (of 16 books) and found out she writes in 30 minute sprints.

    As a complete scatterbrain, i thought I /might/ be able to do 20.

    It’s rocking my world. I’ve had 3-4,000 word days! (my PB was a single 4k day, and I average about 700 a day because of [insert distraction here]

    I set a timer to go off on the :40 and I write for 20 minutes. So far, I’ve been able to keep them squirrel free 😀

  3. I’m a list maker. Not only does it keep me on track, but I have a feeling of accomplishment when I cross off my completed projects.

  4. I didn’t think I was ADD until I read this blog. Thanks a lot Kristen! Lists do work wonders for me though. So that’s a good thing!

  5. I’ve honestly been wondering whether I had ADkittens!

    Some wonderful tips, here. Brilliant blog. 🙂

  6. I think a lot of these posts will apply to people who did well in public school too – though that’s a really great point about the imaginary friends. No one EVER got that 😛 lol

    • tessmallory on January 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm
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    Kristen Lamb you are hysterically funny and wise and I wish you lived next door to me! Loved the part about Feelings. Those stupid things. They love to sidetrack and destroy me. What did I ever do to them? As an ADD cave dweller I just want to say your column is awesome. As an author I want to say they make me want to hug you and then pinch you when you aren’t looking. Sigh. But in the end you, my dear, are so right about everything. Just wondering , any chance you could move next door? I can oust the elderly man living there. I have people. : D thx.

  7. This post is just so full of awesome I can hardly stand it! Thanks Kristen!!

    1. Depends. Where do you live? Ask me again in August. I am open to moving ANYWHERE BUT TEXAS in August :D.

        • Lara on January 26, 2013 at 4:58 pm
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        Too funny. I’m looking to move ANYWHERE BUT TEXAS in August, as well. And that whole ADD thing – Kristen, you nailed it.

        Putting this in my to-keep file. Immediately. Before I get distracted by the cat. Or something. Like pizza.

    • lucewriter on January 8, 2013 at 12:42 pm
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    ME TOO!! How can someone with ADD even be a writer? I keep asking myself that question. Number one is my absolutely lifeline. Thanks for this post!

  8. OK, can I just tell you that THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR … er, read…er, whatever. What I am trying to tell you is that your post today is spot on for me. I am not ADD but my stupid feeeeelings are always sabotaging my brain with self-doubt, nitpicking, and messing with my priorities so that I end up doing EVERYTHING but writing (cleaning out the utensil drawer, removing toenail polish, watching a marathon of Hoarding: Buried Alive in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, etc….) I am a columnist and aspiring book author, but I cannot get my act together to get it all done. I have been telling myself for about a year to JUST DO IT, but every week I find myself writing my column at the last minute, then not having enough time for my book, social media, promotion, etc. Thank you for putting this to paper …. er, cyberspace….er, whatever. Just thank you!

  9. Still working on moving outta the playpen. 😉

    • MB on January 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm
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    Very awesome!!!!! I just wrote a piece earlier about how to stop worrying, and “Make a list” is #1, so it’s cool to see this point validated. You gave some quite helpful info…and yes I have ADD…and yes it sucks to want to write and have my mind switching train of thought constantly. Thank you!

  10. This is just what I needed to read today. Thanks!

  11. this entire list is made of awesome! I am going to re-read this one often to keep my lies… ahem feelings in check. and do it even when i don’t feel like it. thanks, Kristen!

    • annerallen on January 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm
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    Such a great list of tips, Kristen! You don’t have to be ADD. For me the most important thing was #7–Ditching loser friends. It sounds harsh, but our own success required it.

    I recently looked back over the 14 month period in which I revived my career and published 7 books. In the month before all the “miracles” started to happen, I ditched the two negative talk-aholics who were sucking my time with endless repetitive phone calls and whiny drop-in visits: two people who did not give a *&%! whether I lived or died as long as I played the part of silent audience to their dramas. I didn’t consciously decide to ditch them. I suddenly heard my own voice say, “Conversations should involve two people talking and two people listening. If you have no interest in what I have to say, don’t call me again.”

    Magic. They both disappeared. And I became a successful novelist.

    1. Wow! I like that. So concise and to the point and not one word that can be confused. Can I borrow that to relieve myself of some dead weight? 🙂

        • annerallen on January 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm
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        You sure can, makergoddess! I haven’t regretted it for a minute.

  12. Number 8! Number 8!
    I relate
    To Number 8.
    I’m finishing dammit.
    And I know I omitted a comma.
    Oh well.

    It’s okay. I’m sipping some water now. Everything is going to be okay.

    • Angela on January 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm
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    Great post! Thank you for the laughs, now I’m quitting a group of losers and getting back into my writer-hole.

  13. This is an excellent list. I would like to add “take notes”
    I used to think “oh, I’ll remember that awesome idea. It is so great, how could I forget it?” And try to come up with way to help me remember – which always wasted more time and energy then simply picking up a pen. I’ve learned to write down all the shiny ideas in a sentence or two. Then I can go back to what I was doing before I got sidetracked.

  14. As usual, funny and smart. Great tips all. Thanks. I have shared links to two of your posts and mentioned your book on my blog. (http://rosihollinbeckthewritestuff.blogspot.com/2013/01/two-reviews-and-giveaway.html) for extra chances in the drawing!

    • Michelle Roberts on January 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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    Great tips. Gotta work on the perfectionism. And I should have thought about the list making eons ago, being an OCD list maker and all…

  15. As I embark on a four-month writing sabbatical where productivity is key, this list is an excellent reminder of how to make the most of that gift. I usually try to write from 9 to 1 in my studio that’s only 50 feet from my house, but you’d be amazed at the demons that make that journey a daily obstacle course. Once there, the hardest thing to remember to do is to drink water! Thanks for driving that point home. Lord knows I don’t need to block any creative flow…

  16. I’ll cast a vote against doing the hardest one first. Every so often I jump on that bandwagon. I write the Hardest Thing on a sticky and put it on my board. Doing anything else would be against The Rules. But the Hardest Thing is hard, so I stare at the sticky, continue not to do it, then get terribly bored and do something else — usually something not on any list.

    I use several methods to decide what to do next. Sometimes I identify the hardest, then do the 2nd hardest. By the time that’s done, I’m on a roll. If it’s a really bad day, it can be “Nope, that’s still to hard. Pick the next hardest. Repeat.” Or I roll dice against the list. Or promise to do the very smallest part of the Hardest Thing, then stop if I want to (but by then I can see the finish line for the next step). Worst case, at least I’ve done something with the day. (Not saying I always take this advice, but when I do, it works.) Mark Forster (and his followers) have several systems for working through lists.

    The other problem is not being able to decide which is the Hardest Thing. Analysis paralysis. I also get that during fun time. Which of my just-for-me projects should I do? Answer: Any I feel like.

    Other than that, great post!

  17. Kristen I love your writing style! I laugh and learn all at the same time (which is how it should be!). You make all excellent points. I’m a consultant who is often home most days in my pajamas doing work from my home office. Lots of writing, editing, document review, and a variety of rather tedious tasks… and the discipline required is similar to a writer.

    OK, now both of us have to go back to WORK!

  18. Ha! This has been me for most of the break. Like many ADD writers, I realized yesterday that I had only two more days off, and suddenly made progress. *sigh*

  19. Thanks for this kick in the pants. Will go back now to my day job (architecture) followed by a dinner break then off to my writing ‘job’ tonight.

  20. I love the tips! I would have told you sooner, but I had to go get a glass of water!

  21. You forgot to put (4) Life coach. Thanks again for sweetening the self-development pill with humour! XXX

  22. Love this post & my Adult ADD meds! To show my love I just wrote 500 words on my new project! And now back to my old project and the thing I hate the most, finishing!!

  23. Great post – so refreshing to pack a page of advice with lots of things to giggle at.

  24. I sit back and cringe as I read this list and see how many of them I still do. It’s scary. Thanks for the look into my own life! Haha.

  25. Thanks, Kristen.

  26. I can so–what the heck was THAT? What IS that cat up to NOW?–identify. Thanks for the laughs and the good reminders of what we need to do.

    • Karen Lynn Klink on January 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm
    • Reply

    Tough Lady, I love you!

    I received an angry email from an author who was upset that I didn’t give her ebook an excellent review, like so many others. I thought her characters didn’t show emotion, and mentioned, by example, that she said the protagonist “was afraid” or something like that, rather than expressing his fear more directly. I felt she did this throughout the book. She said I “trashed” her book and told all her friends to attack any writing of mine.

    I still felt bad about getting such an angry response to my review. But your post makes me feel better. Thanks!

    1. One more tip would be to let criticisms from ungrateful jerks roll off your back.
      Keep being honest.

    • moonduster on January 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm
    • Reply

    Great tips and a fun read! I’ll be sharing this on Facebook, but I’ll make sure to mention and link to it on my blog too. 🙂

    • moonduster on January 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm
    • Reply

    Here’s my blog mention of this post. 🙂

  27. Outstanding, Kristen. I endorse all of these — Thank you for putting them all in one clear, coherent blog. Off to drink more water.

  28. Fun post with important content. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Right, I’m printing out that list and pinning it to the wall. Loved this post. I want to be shiny too 🙂

    • Kathleen Trail on January 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm
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    I’m bookmarking this link for future kicks-in-the-a$$ that I’m sure I’ll need….

    I would add one thing to the “Don’t mistake the urgent for the important” concept. I’ve found that when you schedule something like writing that may not be considered “mission critical” ahead of something you absolutely have to get done that day, you’ll find your day expands slightly to make the time you didn’t think you had.

    The necessary stuff after that will get done, even if you have to stay up late or ditch the laundry to do it.

  30. My main problem with getting things done is that I will work out when I’m going to write and when I’m going to do other things and then, out of the blue, I’ll get a bunch of essays to do for school all at once, without any warning. It’s okay when they actually stick to a regular homework timetable, but that is incredibly rare. Usually it’s a bit hit and miss.

    Also, being at school all day kinda makes it tricky to get things done. I manage, mainly because I write fast, and often at lunchtimes, but it’s not easy. Also, when I’m at school I’m away from my things to do lists — a traumatic experience indeed!

  31. Excellent advice, which I need badly. I just tweeted. Thanks.

    • TLJeffcoat on January 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm
    • Reply

    I need to work on #1. Never tried making lists, but my test drive of the wall of stickies for planning an outline was a huge success. Now I must try listing.

    I can vouch for 10. If I don’t drink any water, I’m suddenly playing World of Warcraft because my mind was “blank” when I tried writing. Completely ignoring my favorite quote, “There is no try, there is only do or not do.”

    • caromann on January 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm
    • Reply

    Seems useful, but I’ll probably only actually use 1, 2, and 3-10. 😉 This is terrific LIFE advice and applies hecka lot.

  32. LOL But true. My fave blog post of 2013 so far! Nos. 5 & 6!

  33. Once again, thank you! I truly appreciate all of the advice and wisdom you share.

  34. What a great laugh, and lots of affirmations, too! I’m not ADD, but my son is and I notice a few tendencies of my own – especially with writing. I vote for #8 and #9, and I already have a mean writing friend. I’ll ditch the feelings too, but can I still live on ice cream and cookie sprinkles?

  35. Wow! I got a mention in a Kristen Lam post… She likes me, she really, really likes me. Thanks sugarcube. Another suggestion I would make, is get your butt up an hour early, set the kitchen timer and start writing as the very first thing you do. You will be amazed to see what your unconscious dregs up. Love you darlin’.

  36. Great post, Clarice…um Kristen. LOL Yes, I have SQUIRREL that annoying BUG affliction called ADD and I still got to the movie reference ALL THE WAY at the end. Yay me!

    There is one thing about making lists I’d like to add though. I have found that when I make out lists, they tend to end up either being a football field length or each thing on the list has a gazillion steps to make it complete. When finished writing out my list I get overwhelmed just looking at it and then I go hide in my little world, doing anything and everything except what’s on that list. Yes, I hang out with my feelings in these times.

    I would like to recommend that when people with ADD make a list they try to make it no longer than about 5 things and make sure each thing has no more than 2 or 3 steps to completion.

    For example: Clean the kitchen (bad ADD list item)

    Instead write: wash the dishes, dry the dishes, put dishes away, wipe counters and stove top, wipe cabinet doors and fridge and oven fronts, sweep floor, mop floor.

    Yes, that’s a lot more on your list, but it’s broken down in such a way that you know exactly what needs to be accomplished. In some cases you could even do each item in any order, though this example doesn’t lend itself to that very well. It’s kinda hard to put away the dishes before you wash them, unless you like dirty dishes in your cupboards, and who am I to judge.

    Remember a to-do list is a living breathing document. Just as things can be crossed off, so can things be added, so start small and build. I do not recommend adding anything to the list until you have only one or two things left to cross off, however. Adding to the list before it’s time and SQUIRREL you sabotage the whole thing with FEELINGS: overwhelm and anxiety being the worst of that gang.

  37. Apparently I have ADD. 🙂 This was awesomely informative and hilarious. And this: “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.”…that actually IS perfection. Which is kind of weird. I loved this.

  38. I have asthma since a child. My form of asthma is caused by allergies. It could be from too much dust mites in the air to whatever. Back on 2004 the federal government ruled that I could not get early Social Security at 44 because I could still work part time of two hours a working day. I had worked full-time when I could find a job before so it was a shock to my system that the medical experts knew my future. I write like a turtle. I stop when I need too, because the doctors were correct. I was glad that I had started a writing career. I had some hope or something to do. Not too many companies would hire me only capable of working a couple of hours a working day or I might pass out if I forced myself. After a couple of hours sitting and typing I have to stop and walk around or go outside for fresh air. I do not need medication for my asthma because I learned to control my breathing when an allergic reaction occurred. I leisurely walk every day, but like in the Tortoise and the Hare (one of Aesop’s Fables) I know the limitations of my body. I cannot out write the fastest or the most talented or the best, but I know that I can write when I can. – Daniel

  39. Hi, Kristen – thanks for an awesome set of tips, which are handy for those of us without ADD, who are nonetheless plagued with other crap for which science has no name. Ah, well. Have fun in Seattle.

  40. I look forward to your email posts in my inbox every day and I am never disappointed. Today, I really needed this. As I make beef stew for a dear friend waiting on news as to whether or not her son’s cancer has returned, which sort of feels like giving someone an umbrella as they face a tidal wave, my feelings would have me curl into a tight ball for the foreseeable future. I know this post is about writing, and I’m going to bookmark it because I need it for that, too, but I am left with this solid feeling of, “CHARGE!” which I am certain is more helpful to my friend than a roly poly. So even though I’ve learned to ignore my feelings for the most part since they are needy little nits, and oh, so fickle, this one is welcome on such a sad day. Thank you.

  41. Thank you Kristen, I am printing this off and putting it up on my Kitchen wall.

  42. Great pieces of advice, Kristen! I find that figuring out what motivates you to accomplish your tasks helps as well. If you can pinpoint the spring of your motivation and tap that, then there’s nothing you cannot do. Thanks!

    • Paige on January 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks Kristen — Lack of exercise, so true.

  43. Thanks. I need that.

    • Laurie Young on January 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm
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    Wow. You nailed me exactly. This is perhaps the most important blog post I have ever read. I need to read it every day for the rest of my life. Thank you.

    • writtenwyrdd on January 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm
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    Great advice. As an ADD suffering writer, I can attest to having fallen for most of the sneaky excuses for not writing. It’s so easy to be undisciplined. I find that lots of coffee to hand is also helpful. Water at one hand, coffee at the other, lol

  44. Number 8 is SO my issue. I know it’s time to let it go, move on to the next step. Because you’re right, it’s about finishing. So true. Thanks, Kristen.

  45. Wow. I didn’t even know I had ADD. Thanks!

  46. I am seriously ADD which is why I can’t work when my family is around me…even if they’re not bothering me, if they’re merely walking through the room, for instance, I get distracted. The fact that I homeschool the kids makes it worse. For years, I kid myself into thinking that I can write during the day, between homeschooling, driving the kids to activities, and household chores. Nope. I got very little writing done.

    Last week, I decided enough is enough. I started getting up 1.5 hours before everyone else, something I swore before that I couldn’t do because I love my sleep too much, and in those quiet 1.5 hours of the morning, I started cranking out more words than I used to in a week. I love my new-found productive self though I would totally go for “living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles” too…

  47. Can we tell that this was written by someone with ADD? You’ve got a very engaging cookie sprinkles sort of mind.

    Although I do not have ADD, there is a lot of good advice here for all of us. I do have a hard time focusing on one project though. I have so many writing ideas – fiction and non-fiction. Whenever I’m working on one, I’m worrying about the others that aren’t getting done. And it all feeds into item 8 – perfectionism. Hey, one of my books in progress is on that very topic. And I want it to be perfect!

    Actually, I think that your greatest insight comes in item 4 – Mix It Up. The key is not to fight ADD, or even perfectionism, but to learn what our style is and adapt our writing to it. So, non-linear thinkers write differently. Being able to write in chunks can be a strength.

    My younger daughter struggles with ADD and school was difficult for her, despite her intelligence and hard work. One Christmas she made each of us a collage themed around our personal interests. I was in awe–so creative. Then I realized this was the insight I needed to understand her; she has a collage mind. This is how she sees the world. There are associations and relationships that would just never occur to us linear thinkers. Ultimately, it is that kind of creativity that the world recognizes as original, maybe even genius.

    So if we recognize the strengths of ADD and stop seeing it as a disease or a handicap, we can make it work for us. It requires some adaptive strategies, and there are still times, as you say, that we just have to suck it up, but we can still celebrate who we are!

    I hope you don’t recover, Kristen.
    All the best in Rain City.

  48. Thanks a lot, now I will forever hear Buffalo Bill telling me to write! o_o

    (great post! <3)

  49. Hey, all this sounds familair I have lived through this. I have left my fantasy writer, fiction life, behind after falling on my ass a few times. You know what ? its all good it is how we learn and learning is good. I have picked myself back up, got back on the horse and put the hours in. Have a nice time in Seattle Kristen.

    • Jess Molly on January 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm
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    Housework is a priority? Gasp! I have been messing up all these years. *bites nails*

    • Kim on January 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm
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    Yes, exercise! After I lift weights or run I can focus and get so much more done. The work is better quality too. Even though I hate lists, I make them. I like that feeling of crossing off stuff I’ve done. It makes me feel good.

  50. Reblogged this on Jessica Ralston and commented:
    I read Kristen Lamb’s blog regularly, and she just happened to hit the nail on the head today. ADD writers unite!

    • SweetSong on January 9, 2013 at 12:07 am
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    I like your science. It’s a good kind of science to have. And really, Tip 6 is a good life tip, not just a writer tip. Aaaand much as I hate to admit it, Tip 9 is the bane of my existence, but true. (Exercise is booooooring!) Anyways, awesome post!

  51. Fanfreakintastic. Thank you!

    • AME on January 9, 2013 at 1:08 am
    • Reply

    Awesome. Thanks. As a biology post-doctoral researcher (writing science manuscripts) and a hopeful children’s book author and mom of a 4 year old, I really really needed to read this. It’s going up on the wall of my cubicle! THANKS!

  52. Rename your to-do list Ta-DA!

    It helps the inner child find fun in the oh-so-mundane tasks. A bit like those times when a five YO begs to do the dishes or push the steam cleaner around the bathroom floor.

    I haven’t been around much lately, Kristen. I committed to writing instead of bebopping the blogs I love.

    “So! How did that go?” [You don’t ask, so I ask for you.]

    Ask my MasterCard balance. It so loved the sleight-of-cash rides down those nifty machines at The Sassy Flamingo.

    [Pssst. It’s your kind of place. Too fun! And, funky.]

  53. Just wanted to say I signed up to receive your blog fairly recently, and have been enjoying it! I love your humor; it is refreshingly different from other blogs who take a very dry approach to helping authors. I’m not ADD (as far as I know), but I have a hard time staying on track with writing when email, tons of blog articles to read, that second cup of coffee, restlessness (so I need to exercise, but don’t), my dog, my cat, and the mailman are all calling to me. Distractions abound in my life, and then I beat myself up for not getting things accomplished. I do make lists, as you suggest, and I drink my fair share of water, but it seems like for one step forward I take forty back. Maybe I need to consult with a time manager, or something. Does anyone have any ideas?

  54. Great list! I need more mean writer friends and to drink more water and to follow the rest of your list.

  55. I have a list of things to do day by day. I have a small stand-up day planner where I write down what I want to do for each day a week in advance. If I get it done, I am happy. I also have a little pad with a weekly and monthly to-do list for my writing and it has a column with ‘Done’ on it. (Got this idea from DD Scott). When I have done the list, I tick them off. So hopefully by end of the month, I have all ticks and am v happy.

    • Thomas Linehan on January 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve never been a perfectionist. I’ve been mediocre all of my life but have had to work hard at just being that good. I see life as a haven and you must work hard to enjoy it. and that includes your writing.
    Great instructions!

    • K.E. Colmer on January 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm
    • Reply

    Love it! I started following a fair few ‘writers’ blogs last year and your’s is one of the few that have stood the test of time (others have gone to the ‘Unsubscribe’ graveyard). I particularly like tip #2.

    I have a tip that I’d like to add. My accountant husband devised a spreadsheet for me that gives the projected finish date of my first draft, calculated on a set word average per day. That sucker (the spreadsheet, not my husband) has all the bells and whistles – finish date going menacingly red if I fall behind and even an embedded trend graph that makes it very clear if my progress is taking a nosedive. A tad anal, I know, but it works for me.

    • DeeAnna Galbraith on January 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, we are kindred spirits – except you have a dishwasher.

  56. What a great post. This really helped me out and made me smile. I am not a book writer but I do love to blog a lot. This really got me thinking and got me motivated. Thanks!

  57. Great article – this has become my new list of 2013 New Year Resolutions.

  58. Another great post Kristen. Love the line about the world rewarding finishers. I will be quoting you on my blog in the near future.

  59. This is awesome! Instead of working on my screenplay I was searching the internet and happened to come across this post – it was meant to be. I guess I should stop farting around and get back to writing now. Thanks for this!


  60. I wrote you an email earlier. Upon reading this, I decided I DO want to be in your hat…. I should not burn this ship since I may need some help someday…. Thanks, Ms. Lamb.
    My blog has a link to my website, which has a link to yours…FYI (in case you are reading this before your email)

  61. Spot on all the way. Found this when James Scott Bell retweeted, which I than retweeted. You are golden.

    1. THANK YOU! So neat to meet you :D.

  62. Excellent. I would add something that my almost-11-month-old will not let me do to that list: get plenty of rest.

    Wow, that typo’d as “rear”, can we say AWKWARD? Even if it may, or may not, be apt. Cough.


    Your last point about the water is fascinating! It makes sense, but I never thought of it before. Good to know!

    And now let me go tie my feelings up and lock them in a closet and see if I can pound out a few words. Or at least get some good brainstorming done.


  63. heh. my whole life is ADD, but since I’m working as a full-time writer now, I have to at least focus on that most days. I find lists to be incredibly helpful, especially on weekends. I’m surprisingly good with time management, but I think it’s because I only procrastinate the things I want to do (don’t know why, but I do).

  64. Great tips. As a university student with ADHD I have learned really quickly that lists, exersize and the “disconnect network” button are my best friends…I should hang out with my best friends more often. I like that you used the puppy analogy it totally works.

    • janine dunmyre on February 1, 2013 at 12:38 am
    • Reply

    I reposted this on my fb page. can I get my name in a hat?

    11. Hire a cleaning person.

    • Ani Baird on December 4, 2013 at 12:14 am
    • Reply

    I like how down to earth you are. I’m looking into starting up on writing kids books and can use all the help I can get. Do you have any other tips that I could use? I would love to here them! Just starting up and still being in High School I really do need a lot of help.

    I really agree on the note of public schools training people to be factory workers and not people who play with imaginary friends. I do school online but I hate having to think the way the school wants me to. I look forward to reading your other blog posts!

    • aaronaskew on January 26, 2015 at 9:55 pm
    • Reply

    You have a really hilarious style that I relate to and enjoy btw. I’m going to try out the sprints (or bites as you call them). See what happens.

  1. […] 10 Ways for an ADD Writer to be OOH! SHINY!…Productive […]

  2. […] 10 Ways for an ADD Writer to be OOH! SHINY!…Productive by Kristen Lamb […]

  3. […] Tweet of the Day: 10 Ways for an ADD Writer to be OOH! SHINY!…Productive […]

  4. […] In the comments in yesterday’s post, my good pal Richard Snow asked 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…  […]

  5. […] Kristen Lambs Blog post “10 Ways for an ADD writer to be OOH! SHINY…Productive” (http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/10-ways-for-an-add-writer-to-be-ooh-shiny-productive…) she recommends breaking writing into tiny chunks, say, twenty minutes at a time, but, let me tell […]

  6. […] 10 Ways for an ADD Writer to be OOH! SHINY!…Productive « Kristen Lamb’s Blog […]

  7. […] Lamb: 10 Ways for an ADD Writer to be Productive. Excellent […]

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